Insomnia can be brought on for many different reasons and can come in various forms. One of the most common is Sleep Maintenance Insomnia, and this is when a person wakes in the middle of the night for no apparent reason; it is then they are unable to get back to sleep.
It is normally found people that are aged 40+ are affected, and is also most common in women within that age group.
- Waking up after only a few hours of sleep.
- Being unable to sleep again after waking up suddenly.
- Repeatedly waking up through the night.
- Where you feel both asleep and awake at the same time.
- Waking up too early and you are unable to get back to sleep.
- Worrying about not sleeping – This thought makes people not able to sleep.
- Depression – You are unable to reach deep sleep if you are depressed.
- Alcohol – You may sleep when under the influence, but when it starts to wear off, your consciousness will come to the surface.
- Medical Problems – Partner or yourself is snoring, back pain, and arthritis can cause you to not sleep properly.
Negative Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Having sleep deprivation can cause a few short-term problems, but it is the long-term problems that are more alarming. The brain can become over exhausted, so it will be unable to function correctly. Ultimately, this can lead to hallucinations or micro naps, and it is these that can be fatal if they occur if you are driving or in charge of heavy machinery.
Cardiovascular Health and Digestion
One of the effects of not sleeping properly over a long period is that it can lead to weight gain, as was studied by Hargens.  He studied sleep disorders and how they affect obesity and chronic disease. With weight gain, it is possible this could lead to high blood pressure, strokes and heart disease.
There is also a risk of the body producing too much of the stress hormone, known as cortisol. Additionally, lowering the hormone leptin levels, which tells your brain you have had enough to eat. As a final note, sleep deprivation can lead your body to release more insulin than it should, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Long- term sleep problems can cause your immune system to become weak, and this will leave you vulnerable to colds and flu.
A Good Night’s Sleep
Howell conducted a study on how sleep quality affected academic performance,  and this resulted in better performance after proper sleeping patterns. This is one piece of information that proves, a good night’s sleep is healthy for you.
A good sleep will help keep you keep an overall healthier life, because having proper sleep leads you to eat less, and maintaining weight will be much easier. Concentration and productivity can improve, as can cognition, memory and problem-solving skills. Athletic performance can also increase, and it has been shown mental well-being, speed and reaction times can all be improved as well.
Overcoming Insomnia by Light Therapy
Way back in 1993, Campbell conducted studies on insomnia participants, by using timed exposure to bright light.  He found there were substantial changes in sleep patterns when subjects were exposed to bright light. The amount of sleep efficiency improved by over 70% even when there was no actual longer time spent in bed.
The light therapy boxes simulate natural daylight, which is important for regulating the body clock into a 24-hour cycle. For a specified amount of time, you sit near a special light box. For correct use, these light boxes are programmed for specific times, so these have to be fitted into normal everyday life. This is one reason why they can help regulate the body clock.
It is also possible to use these boxes while you are doing any other seated activities so as not to be too obtrusive to your lifestyle. For the light box to be effective, it only takes around 30 minutes of exposure daily, and this can lead to less wakening in the middle of the night, and give around 1-hour extra sleep. For most people, this is a much better solution than using any medication. Especially if they suffer from ongoing insomnia or frequent waking.
- Hargens TA, Kaleth AS, Edwards ES, Butner KL. Association between sleep disorders, obesity, and exercise: a review. Nat Sci Sleep. 2013;5:27-35.
- Howell AJ, Jahrig JC, Powell RA. Sleep quality, sleep propensity and academic performance. Percept Mot Skills. 2004;99(2):525-35.
- Campbell SS, Dawson D, Anderson MW. Alleviation of sleep maintenance insomnia with timed exposure to bright light. J Am Geriatr Soc. 1993;41(8):829-36.
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