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Where does insomnia come from?

This is a state when there are disturbances of night sleep, despite the presence of the necessary conditions. That is, lack of sleep due to street noise or excessive caffeine intake at night is not insomnia. Insomnia is characterized by difficulty falling asleep, frequent nocturnal awakenings with an inability to fall asleep quickly, or early morning awakenings. There are two main systems in the brain, the wake-activating system and the sleep centers. As well as the internal biological clock, which, depending on the illumination, gives a command to one or another system. If the day has come, the waking systems are active, with the onset of night, sleep centers take power over the brain. If there is a failure in the operation of this mechanism, then insomnia occurs. For example, too much light in the evening or excessive activation of wakefulness systems due to stress block the normal functioning of the sleep centers. A person goes to bed and cannot sleep because his brain is too active, overflowing with information and an endless stream of thoughts.

Waking up 10-15 times a night is normal

“If such a situation occurs against the background of stress, then this is a normal physiological reaction. But there is a situation when stress passes, there are no problems, but sleep is still disturbed. As a rule, this occurs due to the fact that the brain “remembers” insomnia, associates the bed not with sleep, but with a place of constant struggle and a desire to fall asleep as soon as possible. Lying down in bed, a person begins to artificially escalate the problem, thinking that a sleepless night awaits him again, wakefulness systems are hyperactivated and do not allow sleep centers to take over. The more a person forces himself to sleep, the less likely he is to fall asleep. This is one of the most common models that explains why insomnia develops.

In addition, there is a variant of insomnia in people who do not have hyperactivation, but have a disturbed perception of time in a dream. It seems to them that there is no dream, although in fact it is. Any person wakes up 10-15 times a night to change the position of the body, as a rule, these awakenings are not remembered. And people with insomnia remember each awakening, but do not remember the time of sleep. This is the so-called pseudo-insomnia.

As a rule, these variants develop in patients with chronic stress or with increased levels of anxiety and depression.

Manifestations of insomnia

There are disorders that occur only during sleep and can be perceived as manifestations of insomnia:

  • breathing disorders during sleep (sleep apnea syndrome),
  • nocturnal epilepsy or restless legs syndrome.

Complaints in these conditions may include frequent nocturnal awakenings, unrefreshing sleep, and excessive daytime sleepiness. Only an overnight polysomnographic study can identify the cause of insomnia and prescribe the correct treatment.

What are the health problems associated with insomnia?

  • During sleep, the brain is actively working, processing the information received during the day. Saves the necessary and removes all unnecessary from memory. Therefore, chronic lack of sleep affects primarily memory. Decreased performance and concentration.
  • People who stay up late (after 00:00) or sleep less than four hours a night are at risk of becoming obese. This is due to the fact that metabolism is disturbed, the production of hormones that increase appetite increases, and the production of hormones that process fat into energy decreases.
  • Due to hormonal disorders, the formation of collagen and elastin, the fibers that are responsible for the elasticity of the skin and protect it from the appearance of wrinkles, is disrupted. External signs of lack of sleep – redness of the eyes, earthy complexion, lack of blush, bruising under the eyes, increased swelling. A person with chronic insomnia looks older than his years.
  • Insomnia affects the immune system. Sleep-deprived people are on average three times more likely to catch a cold. The risk of cancer increases.
  • Bad mood. Restless sleep is one of the main causes of bad mood in the morning. People who suffer from insomnia are twice as likely to develop depression, and improved nighttime sleep helps reduce symptoms.
  • People with poor sleep quality are twice as likely to be involved in car accidents and have an increased risk of work-related injuries.

How to fight?

If insomnia arose for the first time against the background of acute emotional stress, then a short course of taking sleeping pills (7-14 days) is possible. For some, light sedative herbal preparations or cognitive-behavioral therapy are enough – a set of rules for healthy sleep:

  • do not force yourself to sleep;
  • do not lie in bed without sleep;
  • do not sleep during the day;
  • exclude psycho-emotional stress before bedtime;
  • reduce the time spent in bed;
  • relaxation.

The main thing is to understand that insomnia is a normal reaction, like a rise in temperature with the flu. One sleepless night does not affect the performance of the usual kind of activity, except for those that require special care (drivers, dispatchers, operators).

If the stress has passed, but insomnia remains, then in each individual case you need to deal with the situation. If insomnia persists more than three times a week for three months in a row, it is necessary to visit a somnologist.

Photo: vostock-photo

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