Insomnia is becoming more of an issue of late during the last six months (the current length of time this period of Depression has been active), I have regular periods of Insomnia the average length of time I go without sleep is four to five days. Although the odd one of those days may include an hour knap, the longest period has been a run of nine days.
British Sleep Council (it really exists)
A recent report from the British Sleep Council has revealed that we are sleeping worse than ever. The Great British Sleep Report shows that the majority of Brits only get between five and seven hours of shut-eye per night. A third of respondents claim to have suffered from insomnia for over five years, with stress cited as the chief cause.
According to the recent study Insomnia has 8 what are termed as surprising effects on your body that are not all that surprising when you read them as someone who suffers with Insomnia they are all fairly well spot on. We have to pay the Scientists to do something otherwise where would we be… anyway here are the eight ways according to the study (with some notes added bt myself linking my problem with Insomnia to the results of the Study, not expecting to be able to link all of them but here we go anyway).
1) Your anxiety levels increase
Anyone missing out on sleep may find that their cortisol (the hormone associated with stress) levels increase, along with their heart rate. This can lead to increased feelings of nervousness and anxiety, as well as high blood pressure. Sleep neuroscientist Professor Horne notes that anyone already predisposed to anxiety is likely to be most affected by it, as for the most part, insomnia is a symptom of pre-existing stress, which must be dealt with in order to achieve a healthier pattern of rest.
NOTE: Well for me that’s fairly self-evident as Anxiety plays a big part in depression, I wasn’t aware of the Cortisol link which may be worth me having a chat with my doctore about.
2) Your afternoon dip gets worse…
Due to the body’s circadian rhythms, it’s normal to experience an energy slump in the afternoon, leaving you feeling fuzzy and searching for a caffeinated beverage. Professor Horne notes that anyone suffering from sleep deprivation is likely to find this period extended, leaving them feeling overly sleepy and with difficulty staying awake.
NOTE: I don’t really find myself feeling anymore tired in the afternoons than I do at any other part of the day, however that could be as a result of the underlying Depression that alters this pattern for me. During my periods of Insomnia I don’t actually tend to feel the tiredness at all.
3) …or you might feel overly alert
The link between insomnia and anxiety is well-established, and Professor Thorne points out that anyone lacking in sleep may feel unnaturally wired, rather than tired, during the day. By getting caught up in the pressures and demands of modern life, the heart rate and adrenaline levels increase, and the body does not wind down sufficiently to help you sleep.
NOTE: Now this one I can concur with. I become hyper alert to everything around me. I am already well versed in the sounds my home makes and can get around in the total darkness and not make a sound as I know all the spots where the floors and doors creek.
However, this hyper alertness becomes a problem for me as I remain permanently on edge. Every sound is heightend, every other sense seems to be wide awake parts of my own body become more hyper sensitive to touch. That hyper alertness manifests itself with a large side of fear for me, for example: Every noise I hear related to the front door automatically convinces me that someone is trying to break in. And you can imaging the thoughts that run through your mind in that scenerio.
4) You start getting angry for no reason
The brain is the organ most likely to be affected by a lack of sleep, notes Professor Thorne. Research has indicated that those missing out on sleep are likely to feel more angry or frustrated than normal, and prone to negative moods. Some scientists put this down to increased activity in the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for processing emotions. A study indicated that, following sleep deprivation, the connection between the amygdala and the medial prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain responsible for regulating emotional response) of participants was disrupted, meaning that their reactions to negative stimuli were exaggerated, leaving them feeling more angry.
NOTE: Again yes, I can agree with this. Anger flashes through my mind randomly and for the most pointless of reasons. For example: even sat at my desk typing this I have that feeling of the anger rising simply because the lamp on my desk is annoying me because I can’t get the right angle of light I want.
5) Your eyes have it
It’s easy to spot someone who’s missing out on shuteye from the telltale bags under the eye Dr Firas Al-Niaimi, dermatologist for sk:n clinicss.notes that ‘poor lymphatic drainage and fluid accumulation’ lead to puffy eyes. Dark circles appear under the eyes too; dermatologist Dr Dennis Gross explains that this is because sleep deprivation can cause your body to go into fight or flight mode, in which it draws oxygen to vital organs, rather than the skin. This results in darker, deoxygenated blood, which becomes visible under the thin skin under the eyes.
NOTE: Well added to point 3, this would be something you’d expect, the Fight or Flight response directly connects to Hyper Alertness where you feel on edge all the time. That feeling of being on edge extends to feelings of fear as I explained in my note on point 3.
6) Your skin bears the brunt
They call it ‘beauty sleep’ for a reason: sleep deprivation can have a detrimental impact on your skin. When you sleep, growth hormones stimulate cell and tissue repair. Going without sleep can leave you looking haggard, as your body is denied the opportunity to repair itself. Dr Al-Niaimihighlights that insomnia can also result in poor collagen formation, increasing the appearance of aging.
NOTE: I’m not even going there at 48 I’ve pretty much given up on giving a crap about skin care etc. To be honest I’ve always had the typical bloke attitude to that anyway “Skin care, meh! leave that to the ladies lol”.
7) You start craving carbs
Have you ever noticed that missing out on sleep leaves you more peckish? A 2012 study indicated that sleep deprivation increased levels of ghrelin (known as the “hunger” hormone), leaving participants feeling more hungry than normal.
According to the study, the less sleep you have, the hungrier you feel. On top of that, sleep deprivation leads us to crave sweet and salty foods more than others – another study presented by American Academy of Sleep Medicine showed that unhealthy fast food was seen as more rewarding and satisfying following by those whose sleep had been restricted.
Without the support of the satiety hormones you’re more likely to eat more, too. Such studies only cement the connection between chronic insomnia and obesity. Dr Nerina Ramlakhan adds that “not getting enough sleep forces our body into crisis or survival mode. We start to run on adrenaline which makes us conserve energy and store fat particularly around the middle – this is called ‘trunkal thickening’”
NOTE: Ok, this one is interesting as I’d never considered any kind of link here. I do find myself craving more sweet foods and foods high in Carbs and I do actually eat more during periods of Insomnia than at any other time. Sadly I don’t get the effect of pilling on the weight as I have always struggled to get my weight up above 8st/43KG throughout my life. My relationship with food is an odd one. I can’t eat just because I’m hungry, if I’m not enjoying whatever food I am eating I stop regardless of how hungry I am. I’d rather be hungry than eat foods I’m not enjoying.
8) Your mental processing slows down
Sleep deprivation is known to have a detrimental effect on cognitive function, as you are overly sleepy and cannot concentrate. While complete sleep deprivation can affect long-term memory and reasoning skills, even going without enough sleep for a few days has an impact on accuracy and vigilance. This can increase the risk of work-based or driving accidents, which, as Professor Thorne highlights, are the biggest dangers of chronic insomnia.
NOTE: I would personally put this at the number one effect Insomnia has on the body. Again this is an easy one for me to concur with, as someone who works in an area where accuracy and attention to detail is important, having that part of your brain that allows you to maintain those high standards not correctly firing becomes a very big issue.
For me it directlty effects my confidence in tmy ability to produce a piece of work to a standard I would be happy to provide a Customer with. As writing is around 90% of my work you can see that the inability to maintain standards is a major problem.
#Shaun who him? – I’ve worked in the Employability & Skills, Recruitment, Training, Careers Advice & CV Writting/Consultancy sectors for over 20 years. Currently developing my life long passion of Photography with the eventual aim of building a new business venture. McLaren F1 and Ayrton Senna fan who also enjoys cooking who more recently using my enjoyment of writing to talk about my own Mental Health struggles.