Insomnia, a condition that can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep, can have a lasting impact on a person’s health. The average adult needs somewhere between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Chronic lack of sleep can lead to a sleep deficit, and that deficit can grow every time a person loses sleep.
It’s important to consider the long term effects of insomnia and seek appropriate treatment for this sleep disorder.
A Weaker Immune System
Sleep helps to regulate immune function. Circadian disruption can keep the body from initiating an effective immune response, which can leave individuals more susceptible to illness.
Because breathing and muscle activity slows down during sleep, it gives the immune system the opportunity to perform essential tasks. The immune system activity that takes place during sleep is crucial, and when it is interrupted, it can lead to many health problems.
More Severe Allergies
Allergy symptoms occur when the immune system has an intense reaction to something that normally does not cause harm. Since a lack of sleep can disrupt immune system function, it can lead to more intense allergic reactions.
Adults with mild allergies could experience a severe allergic reaction if they fail to get enough sleep. Treating insomnia can reduce the risk of an allergic attack.
Skin Damage and Premature Aging
When the body enters deep sleep, it is able to repair muscles and skin cells. A lack of sleep means the body does not have the opportunity to carry out this important tasks. It can increase the risk for dermatologic conditions and can lead to premature aging.
Furthermore, a lack of sleep can negatively impact facial cues. Insomnia can lead to swollen eyes, a drooping mouth, and even redness and swelling in the face.
An Increased Risk for Heart Disease
Heart disease is responsible for approximately 1 in 4 deaths in the United States. It’s a leading cause of death worldwide, which is why adults should make cardiovascular health a priority.
There is a link between sleep deprivation and coronary heart disease, hypertension, and other health problems. Increasing sleep duration is one of the most effective ways adults can reduce their risk for developing heart conditions.
Mental Health Problems
Depression is on the rise, and insomnia could be partially responsible for that. Insufficient sleep can lead to persistent inflammation, which has been linked to depression.
Recent research shows that untreated depression can cause lasting damage to the brain. Sufficient sleep can help adults to manage depression symptoms and keep the brain in good health.
When the body does not get the sleep it needs, it may produce more of a hormone called ghrelin. This can leave you feeling hungry even if you’ve eaten an appropriate amount of food.
Not only can insomnia lead to overeating, but it can lead to poor food choices. Studies show that individuals that haven’t rested properly are more likely to select foods high in carbohydrates and sugar.
Insufficient sleep can lead to discomfort and irritation, but it’s also important to consider the long term effects of insomnia. Adults should seek treatment for insomnia so that their bodies can get the sleep that they need.