Insomnia Facts

by Caroline von Fluegge-Chen

Insomnia Facts
  • Sleeping poorly for less than six hours increases the risk of dying from heart disease by almost 50%, and the risk of dying from a stroke by 15%.
  • The amygdala – the part of the brain that alerts the body to be prepared in times of danger – goes haywire when a full night’s sleeplessness occurs. That, in turn, wreaks havoc on the prefrontal cortex which controls our logical reasoning and flight or flight reflex turning us into “emotional Jell-O.”
  • Memory capacity and speech control diminish and irritability spikes.
  • Cortisol, a hormone related to stress, depression and cardiovascular disease, is building in the body instead of being moderated by a good night’s rest.
  • External, ordinary dangers of modern life become more deadly: according to the US Department of Transportation, there are about 200,000 car accidents a year caused by sleepy drivers, killing more people than drunk driving.
  • A lack of sleep robs the brain of encoding or consolidating memories after one day and the brain begins to quickly mimic the profile of people with acute psychiatric disorders.
  • Anxiety and depression are linked with insomnia.
  • Prescription drugs to treat insomnia may cause a person to sleep; however, they disrupt or prohibit REM sleep, the kind of restorative sleep where delta waves and human growth hormones are present. Though you are “knocked out” for the night, you are not in a state of healing and repair.
  • A lack of sleep increases your appetite for high-calorie-dense foods. Two hormones play an important role in controlling appetite and satiety. Ghrelin stimulates appetite and leptin suppresses appetite. In a properly functioning brain, the two hormones are released on and off to regulate normal feelings of hunger. Sleep deprivation alters ghrelin and leptin levels, leading a person to eat more and feel less satisfied.
  • Chronic sleep deprivation will then cause you to consume more food. A lack of sleep disrupts the body’s ability to respond to glucose load and appropriate release of insulin. It is likely, in combination with the stress hormone cortisol, that fat deposits from weight gain will be predominant in the midsection. This is known as visceral fat depositation and is associated with type II diabetes.
  • Sleep loss suppresses the function of your immune system, thereby causing a person to get sick more often or prolong how long it takes to fight illness.
  • Attention, long and short-term memory, decision-making, reaction time, speed and accuracy are negatively affected with insomnia.
  • Over a two-week period, missing out on the recommended eight hours of nightly sleep adds up to two full nights’ sleep debt, one study found. If you’re averaging only four hours a night, your brain reacts as though you haven’t slept at all for three consecutive nights.
  • It has been shown that people suffering from fibromyalgia do not get to the point of producing delta brainwaves. Therefore they do not produce human growth hormone. As a result, the body is always in a state of disrepair. Without the ability to heal tissue damage sustained throughout the day, it is no wonder that these patients are in chronic pain. With pain comes depression. Along with depression comes systemic inflammation. And the cycle continues. Can you see why fibro patients would benefit from teaching the brain to get to a state of restorative sleep over painkillers and anti-depressants?
  • Fifteen million American kids are affected by inadequate sleep. Sleep deprivation is associated with moodiness, poor grades, depression, reaction time, recall, responsiveness, poor concentration and disciplinary problems, to name just a few symptoms.