Insomnia is known to many individuals to be an effect that causes difficulty in the attempt to fall asleep. It is detailed in many ways throughout medical literature and even in the press as its effects are quite noticeable. More often than not insomnia is seen as the inability to stay asleep or to even slip into a deep, resting sleep. Through lack of sleep the body will lose out on the chance to heal, rest, and perform other functions that are afforded by a normal resting state. Insomnia is a sleeping disorder that affects both the body and the mind.
Insomnia qualifies as a disorder largely because it is a condition that carries negative consequences that are more often than not a result of some other pathological response (Roth, 2007). This disorder is commonly linked to impairments that are quite substantial in the quality of life an individual experiences. Thanks to the lack of rest afforded by this disorder the mind is rarely allowed to rest for more than a short period of time, which is often not nearly enough to be considered a true and restorative rest. While it is responsible for a great deal of physical impairments, it is also responsible for decreased mental health as well.
There have been many documented cases in which those suffering from insomnia have been seen to suffer through more than those who have experienced a strong form of depression. Accidents, either in the home, at work, or in various other settings, are far more common with insomniacs than those who receive a restful night’s sleep. Without a proper amount of rest their emotional mental state is also continually compromised and cannot be relied upon to handle moderate to complex tasks. Insomnia has been linked to many psychological and psychiatric disorders, not the least of which is depression.
Insomnia has been seen to affect close to a third of any given population with at least one
of its four definitions, those being: insomnia symptoms, insomnia symptoms with daytime
consequences, sleep dissatisfaction, and insomnia diagnoses. Each definition carries a rough
percentage of risk for any given population. It has also been seen that the development of insomnia is far more prevalent in women than men, and that the risk for developing insomnia can increase with age (Ohayon, 2002). Despite all that is known about insomnia, it is still as of yet undetermined just how and why it persists as a disorder.
What is known is that it is highly detrimental to the overall mental health of those who develop such symptoms. Lack of sleep can impair a number of different bodily and mental processes necessary for everyday functions. Those with pre-existing psychiatric conditions are even more susceptible to symptoms of insomnia than others, and are typically seen to suffer even more debilitating effects than others (Sivertsen, Krokstad, Overland, & Mykletun, 2009). Unfortunately for many the symptoms of insomnia often go undiagnosed and untreated for long periods of time, which only adds to the detrimental effects that can and often are experienced by the individual.
One fact that is glossed over quite often is that the lack of sleep that is experienced by many individuals the world over will not affect the average individual in any adverse manner. Individuals may very well experience a lack of focus, irritability, and even mental fatigue that is quite normal from a lack of proper rest, but overall a single night spent awake will not force an individual to experience a serious decline in mental health. However, the accumulation of several nights of restless sleep or no sleep at all can begin to cause a decline in an individual’s mental state that can prove quite serious. Without a proper night’s rest within such a long period it is possible that an affected individual will experience what is known as fogginess of the brain, a decided lack of focus, and even experience serious impairments to judgment and though processes that might otherwise be necessary to function properly.
A lack of sleep can also make a person very moody, and can cause bouts of intense
depression stemming from a chemical imbalance in the brain. This is generally caused by the ill effects brought on by a lack of rest that might otherwise allow the brain to restore itself and allow natural bodily process to take over and rejuvenate the mind. The human brain requires at least enough rest to sort and restore its many processes, and without enough sleep many mental processes will begin to degrade and eventually cease to function properly. Too little sleep can cause an individual to become irritable and even confrontational for little if any reason, but no sleep at all can cause a severe lack of judgment and even facilitate physical accidents that result from a complete loss of focus.
Insomnia is one of the more prevalent disorders that can affect people of all ages and is not easily diagnosed. Symptoms of insomnia are hard to notice as so many people throughout the world, particularly certain age groups, are often thought to be suffering from bouts of insomnia, which in truth are often found to be caused by a stressor that has caused a temporary lack of sleep to occur. In this case the solution is often stress-related and can be alleviated with therapy, medication, or both. Given the proclivity of some individuals to develop symptoms of insomnia, for example college students needing to study and cram for finals, assignments, and other school-related work, what is considered to be insomnia is normally temporary and can be treated with a day or two of adequate rest.
Insomnia causes a strain on the mental well-being of an individual. Lack of sleep can create a detrimental effect upon cognitive processes that can then translate to the rest of the body. Without proper focus it is difficult if not impossible to concentrate on simple actions let alone more complicated ones. Insomnia is a disorder that has the effect of creating the domino effect, as the mind loses focus the many processes it controls will begin to suffer.
Ohayon, M.M. (2002). Epidemiology of insomnia: what we know and what we still need to
learn. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 6(2): 97-111
Roth, J. PhD. (2007). Insomnia: Definition, Prevalence, Etiology, and Consequences. Journal of
Clinical Sleep Medicine, 15(3): 7-10.
Sivertsun, B., Krokstad, S., Overland, S., & Mykletun, A. (2009). The epidemiology of
insomnia: Associations with physical and mental health. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 67(2): 109-116.