Is There Any Link Between Chrоnіс Inѕоmnіа and Mental Health?

Chrоnіс Inѕоmnіа

Insomnia is a common cause of sleeplessness or inability to stay asleep among people of all ages.

The term “Insomnia” came from the Latin word insomnia which translates to the word “sleepless.”

The condition is oftentimes experienced by adults and can be caused by a lot of factors. Clinically, insomnia is defined as when an individual could not sleep for long durations or could not even sleep at all. The condition results to a lethargic sensation, underperformance in work or in school, and more.

For the sake of discussion, this article will particularly focus on the effects of chronic insomnia on an individual. You will also see below what are the specific implications of the condition of your mental health.

What are the Types of Insomnia?

Insomnia is a complex condition and a case of insomnia may differ from one person to another. There are 5 commonly known types of insomnia including the general types of Acute and Chronic insomnia, while the more specific ones include Comorbid insomnia, Onset insomnia, and Maintenance insomnia.

Acute Insomnia

One of the two general types of insomnia, acute insomnia is when the sleeplessness is only a brief instance such as one or two nights. This type of insomnia can be caused by an unusual event during the day such as getting bad news, or maybe a traumatic event such as a near-death experience.

Acute insomnias do not always have to be caused by negative events as excitement over an event occurring the next day may also trigger the condition. Traveling from one place to another at night may disrupt your sleep if you are not used to it but jetlag may be classified as a different type of Insomnia called Chronic Insomnia.

Chronic Insomnia

Another one of the two general types of insomnia is called Chronic Insomnia. As the name suggests, the condition is chronic which means it is recurring and happens for long durations of time. The condition is defined as a long-term difficulty and experience of sleeplessness.

Clinically, if an individual has been having trouble for at least three or more nights every week then the diagnosis would be chronic insomnia. Usually, the condition lasts for months or even years and can be caused by a lot of factors which will be discussed in a while.

Chronic Insomnia

Comorbid Insomnia

This type of insomnia is the specific type of sleeplessness associated with other diseases. Insomnia may come with mental issues such as anxiety and depression, bodily pains such as back pain or headaches, and more. Depending on the factors causing insomnia, comorbid insomnia may either be acute or chronic.

Sleep Onset Insomnia

Onset insomnia is another specific kind of insomnia that particularly pertains to sleeplessness at the beginning of the night. Late sleeping patterns may point out to this kind of insomnia and it may result in extreme fatigue and sleep deprivation.

It is a kind of acute insomnia which may turn into a chronic case if untreated. Causes may include intake of caffeine, external factors such as noise, or even simply meddling with your phone at night.

Maintenance Insomnia

Maintenance insomnia is the sleeping order pertaining to the difficulty of staying asleep. This type of insomnia causes individuals to frequently wake up at night and not being able to get back to sleep right away.

Usually, individuals with this type of insomnia do not have the same problem of other insomniacs in terms of falling asleep. However, the problem lies in the repeated interruption of sleep.

Much like other types of insomnias, this one can be triggered by, again, bodily pains and other medical conditions. Alcohol intake, depression, and menopause for women may also be linked to this condition.

Aside from the general terms of acute and chronic insomnia, the types of insomnia may also be classified into two types, namely primary and secondary insomnia.

Primary Insomnia pertains to insomnia caused by the internal problem and the condition alone is the problem. People with primary insomnia just have sleeping problems for no other external reasons.

On the other hand, secondary insomnia is the type of insomnia triggered by another problem such as depression, bodily pains, and other conditions. In secondary insomnia cases, the insomnia is just a result of another clinical diagnosis.

What Causes Chronic Insomnia?

As stated above, chronic insomnia pertains to the recurring case of sleeplessness for long periods of time. The condition is clinically diagnosed when as the individual has been experiencing insomniac episodes for at least three days every week for the past months already.

Chronic insomnia can be caused by a lot of factors which include the following:
Stress

Stress

Stress is a very powerful inhibitor of insomnia. Stress can come from a lot of things such as big work problems like losing your job, losing a loved one, and more. Once a person is stressed, the result can be a short-term case of acute insomnia as stress will create mental discomfort causing the brain to keep on thinking and not let you have your rest.

If the cause of the stress continues to persist, an individual’s sleeping pattern may be disrupted which will ultimately lead the acute case of insomnia into a chronic one. As mentioned, stress can be caused by a lot of factors which means that your insomnia may also be caused by many things.

Physical Discomfort

Aside from the mental causes of chronic insomnia, simple bodily discomforts may also hinder you from sleeping properly. Physical discomforts may persist for weeks if not treated and this is one of the biggest cause of chronic insomnia. Chronic bodily pains such as back pains can obviously result in chronic insomnia.

Having a certain type of bodily pain bothering you may prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep for various reasons. Although headaches and medications may cause you to sleep right away, the problem may be on how to stay asleep.

One of the most common scenarios is when a person in pain reliever is able to sleep but is woken up in the middle of the night due to the pain reliever subsiding. The individual may or may not be able to go back to sleep but in most cases, this factor leads to disruption in sleeping patterns thus chronic insomnia.

Environmental Factors

Perhaps the most annoying roots of chronic insomnia are what can be classified as environmental factors.

People partying next door? Won’t dogs stop barking? Annoying noises on your roof? These are just some of the environmental factors that can interrupt your sleep.

These things may hinder you from entering sleep or may wake you up in the middle of the night only to hinder you again from going back to sleep and the undeniable result of these things is chronic insomnia.

Much like the other factors, external interruptions may lead to just one instance of insomnia but if you’re unlucky enough, that one instance may disrupt your sleeping patterns for a whole month. Aside from that, these things are often out of your control which means some of these could not be solved easily and will continue to persist and interrupt your sleep.

Sleep Pattern

Sleep Pattern Interference

Sleep pattern interferences are sudden changed in your regular sleeping pattern that may cause your body to adjust causing you to have chronic insomnia in the process.

One of the most common interferences that you may experience is the sensation of jet lag. Jet lag occurs when a person travels from one-time zone to another,
often internationally, causing the body to adjust its sleeping time according to the time of the day.

In extreme instances, one’s natural sleep may be completely altered just to match the body clock with the time in the place.

Another case of sleep pattern interference can happen when an individual changes a shift, oftentimes from night to day. This disruption will again cause the body to have an adjustment period with its new schedule thus inducing chronic insomnia in the process.

Mental Health Issues

Depression, anxiety, and more mental health disorders can cause emotional and mental discomfort that will lead to secondary insomnia. These mental health issues may bring an individual to severe overthinking thus depriving him/her of sleep.

Mental health and insomnia are closely related to each other as either one may cause or result to the other.

For example, a person with clinical depression may feel extreme sadness before sleeping thus resulting to other physical processes such as crying for the rest of the night. Another example is a person with a fear of the dark, and in some extreme cases, fear of sleep. These fears may really do its damage through insomnia.

Can Chronic Insomnia Affect your Mental Health?

Yes, chronic insomnia and mental wellness affect each other on a very intimate level. Mental health issues can directly cause insomnia while the effects of insomnia may also include mental issues such as anxiety.

What are the Implications of Chronic Insomnia on your Mental Health?

 Mental Health

Insomnia can be used as a good indicator of a mental health issue as it may be the symptom of this type of disorders. However, it may work the other way around as sleep deprivation may lead to the following mental health issues:

Depression

Being the most common mental health issue, depression can root from sleep deprivation which can then be traced to chronic insomnia. Although the link between chronic insomnia and depression is not that direct, the main bridge between them is sleep deprivation.

Sleep deprivation due to personal problems can lead to a very unhealthy mind susceptible to depression. Once depressed, the lack of sleep may worsen the scenario as physical wellness may start to deteriorate also.

Anxiety

A rather new development in the field of health sciences, doctors are now pointing out to lack of sleep as a major factor for anxiety.

For decades, the doctor believed that the relationship between anxiety and sleep deprivation is linear where anxiety causes the latter disorder. However, nowadays new evidence is pointing out that sleep deprivation may also cause anxiety much like it could cause other mental disorders as well.

A lot of studies have pointed out that people with chronic insomnia are very likely to develop anxiety issues[1] as the lack of sleep may deteriorate mental health by a lot.

Anxiety

Dementia

Being one of the more complicated mental disorders clinically diagnosed to people today, dementia may actually root from simple bad sleeping habits. When people sleep, the eyes are rested and enter a state of non-REM. REM stands for rapid eye movement and getting breaks from it is an important factor for memory preservation.

Aside from that, according to studies, the lack of sleep may result in high concentrations of amyloid[2] which is a kind of protein believed to cause memory loss and diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

Conclusion

Insomnia is actually a very common sleeping problem and in fact, 50% of adults would be experiencing the condition due to a number of reasons. Sleeping habits, biological conditions such as gastrointestinal conditions and more may cause the brain to have its sleep cycle disrupted thus producing the condition of sleeplessness.

All in all, although the connection between chronic insomnia and mental health issues are yet to be concretized, numerous studies have been on the right track to prove it. However, even if this is the case, the most important thing to remember here is to take care of your mental health.

Mental health is not to be taken lightly as proven by the discoveries of mental health issues. To keep yourself away from the reach of these disorders, the best thing to do is to keep your mind healthy and to do so you would need a good sleeping habit.

Plan your schedule ahead, make use of your free time wisely and do not forget to rest when you can.

Simple sleeping interruptions can lead to big mental health issues and it is just right to say that simple little sleeping habits can lead to big positive mental effects.

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Feature Image: istockphoto.com
In Post Image: www.insomnia.net & istockphoto.com
Author

Contributor : Melissa Feldman (Cognitive Health Digest)

Melissa Feldman is an independent freelance writer and author from Toronto, Canada. Melissa lived in Tel Aviv, Israel for 18 years and worked as a content manager in the educational publishing industry. She has undergraduate degrees in both teaching and psychology and a master’s degree in Immigration and Settlement Studies. Melissa is currently working on marketing and creative projects as well as writing a novel. Melissa has been featured on many outlets, including the Content God, Wonder, Branksome Hall’s Alumni Magazine, The Read, & Eric Cohen Books. Reach out to her on LinkedIn.