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Physical Health Impacts of Insomnia

Physical Health Impacts of Insomnia

Adults need at least seven hours of sleep on a regular basis. But up to 70 million Americans are suffering from sleep disorders like insomnia that make getting that much sleep impossible.

Without enough sleep, your brain and body can’t function at their best. Not only does insomnia leave you feeling tired and irritable, but it can also impact your physical health in some serious ways.

At Boston Neurobehavioral Associates, our team of psychiatrists and psychologists understand the importance of sleep — and how frustrating insomnia can be. We specialize in telehealth care for insomnia, and we can help you find a treatment plan that helps you get better rest.

How lack of sleep impacts your physical health

It’s well-documented that insomnia interferes with your brain's ability to function. Chronic lack of sleep can cause moodiness, irritability, and difficulty concentrating and remembering. These symptoms can impact your ability to perform tasks in daily life, but unfortunately, the effects don’t stop there.

Chronic lack of sleep is also linked to an increased risk of a variety of physical health conditions.

Diabetes

Lack of sleep can change the way your body reacts to insulin, a hormone that helps convert sugar into energy. Chronic sleep deprivation makes your body less sensitive to insulin, which makes blood sugar levels rise.

High blood sugar can put you at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. If you already have diabetes, insomnia can make your condition harder to manage.

High blood pressure and heart disease

Your blood pressure naturally falls while you sleep. If you aren’t getting enough hours of sleep each night, your blood pressure stays higher for longer periods of time.

This can increase your risk of hypertension, as well as other heart conditions like heart attack and stroke. Lack of sleep may also contribute to coronary artery calcification, which is a significant indicator for coronary heart disease.

Slowed reaction time

Insomnia interferes with brain function, and it can make you slower to react or respond to your surroundings. It also affects balance and coordination.

These symptoms can make you more likely to make errors in daily tasks and put you at a higher risk of physical injury or car accidents.

Weight gain

Your body makes and manages a variety of hormones when you’re asleep. Lack of sleep contributes to hormonal imbalance, particularly in ghrelin and leptin, the hormones that regulate your hunger and satiety cues respectively.

Ghrelin levels may go up and leptin levels may go down when you have insomnia. That means you’re more likely to feel hungrier and eat more than usual, which can lead to weight gain.

What to do about insomnia

Having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep is normal from time to time. But if you’ve had sleep problems for a month or longer, it could be insomnia — and treatment can help protect your mental and physical wellbeing.

Schedule an evaluation with our team at Boston Neurobehavioral Associates to find out what’s wrong and how to fix it. We ask questions about your symptoms and sleep habits. Then, we do a physical exam.

If we diagnose you with insomnia, we discuss your treatment options. We often find a combination of therapies is most effective for insomnia, and we may prescribe:

We may also recommend stimulus control therapy, which involves establishing healthy sleep habits. These habits typically include setting regular sleep and wake times and removing distractions (like phones and TVs) from your bedroom.

You deserve a good night’s sleep. And if you’re not getting it, we’re here to help. Schedule a telehealth appointment with our team to learn more.

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