In osteopathy, many patients show symptoms of chronic insomnia: at least 10% of the adult population in Canada. And while osteopathy can significantly help fight insomnia, lifestyle is the key to overcoming insomnia and maintaining physiological balance.
However, occasional lack of sleep does not always mean suffering from insomnia. More specifically, it refers to three sleep disorders, which can combine: difficulty falling asleep, intermittent sleep, waking up too early… or two or three of these disorders at a time.
It is the most common sleep disorder and unfortunately, the causes and effects of insomnia on health are numerous. Short-term fatigue, drowsiness, headaches, and muscle soreness are among the most obvious.
But the long-term effects, especially the psychological effects of chronic insomnia (attention disorders, irritability, or depression), are just as harmful to our health, if not more!
Let’s look in detail at the causes and effects of insomnia on health.
What Are the Consequences of Insomnia on My Health?
The consequences of insomnia are numerous and can be classified into three distinct time frames to identify them more easily: the immediate symptoms, the short- or medium-term consequences, and finally the long-term effects.
Immediate Symptoms of Insomnia
- I find it hard to fall asleep: it’s a classic, you can count sheep, but sleep still doesn’t come… The cause of insomnia is often related to your environment. Either you’re using screens before bedtime, the room temperature is inadequate or there is too much light or noise. Late mental activity can also cause insomnia. Focusing on problems and anticipating upcoming tasks for the following day generally prove to generate stress.
- My sleep is intermittent: you feel restless and wake up several times during the night to drink, go to the toilet, or for no apparent reason. Here, the cause of insomnia is rather the lack of physical activity during the day or the consumption of coffee, tobacco, alcohol, or sugar.
- I am waking up too early in the morning, and it is impossible to get back to sleep: the cause of insomnia is probably a disturbance of the internal biological clock, that is to say, that the body’s physiological rhythm is irregular.
The list of causes of insomnia proposed above is not exhaustive and know that your insomnia can also be caused by other sleep disorders.
Short-Term Effects of a Lack of Sleep
In the short term, the effects of insomnia are relatively benign if it remains occasional:
- I’m tired when I wake up. We have all experienced it: the first effect of insomnia is the rather unpleasant feeling of feeling tired when waking, and that sleep has not been sufficiently restorative.
- I feel sleepy and tired during the day. Sleep is necessary for our body: it allows it to regenerate, repair, and strengthen itself. If the body lacks sleep, musculoskeletal disorders such as soreness appear. Muscle strength and reflexes diminish, as do alertness and thinking skills.
- Stress and anxiety are increased and facilitate my irritability. In addition to general fatigue, one of the psychological effects of insomnia is the decrease of our patience and the increase of our aggressiveness, towards ourselves or our entourage.
- Even if I take painkillers, my headache doesn’t go away. As for muscle aches, headaches are the direct effects of lack of sleep: the only way to get rid of them is to get a restful sleep as soon as possible.
- I have trouble concentrating and I experience memory loss. As well as the onset of headaches, difficulty concentrating and memory loss are symptoms of a tired brain because it has not had the rest time necessary for its proper functioning.
The Long-Term Effects of Insomnia
In the long run, the effects of insomnia on our health can be very serious.
Overall, the effects of short- and medium-term sleep deprivation accumulate, and worsen each day. The psychological consequences of insomnia can then negatively affect our personal, professional, or academic relationships. Worse: it is not uncommon for chronic insomnia to lead to a depressive state. As for performance, whatever the field, they will be at half-mast.
From a health perspective, chronic insomnia can cause serious cardiovascular problems such as myocardial infarction (cardiac arrest) or cerebrovascular accidents (stroke). It also contributes to the development of metabolic disorders that significantly reduce life expectancy such as overweight, obesity, or type 2 diabetes.
Indirectly, the decrease in reflexes and alertness, as well as the general fatigue caused by insomnia greatly increase the risk of household accidents, work accidents, and road accidents.
For help or more information about insomnia, the CHUM offers a summary sheet of the protocol of its support by specialized teams.