According to the National Center on Sleep Disorders, 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from a sleep or wakefulness disorders, including: difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep, difficulty staying awake during the day, and even abnormal sleep events such as night terrors or sleep apnea. The inability to relax in a comfortable bed can have several adverse effects on health, underscoring the importance of attaining a good night’s sleep.
Here are two examples of sleep disorders with detrimental effects:
The inability to get a good night's sleep will prevent your body from functioning properly throughout the day. Even minimal sleep loss can alter your mood, ability to carry out tasks, and memory. There is evidence to suggest that lack of sleep impairs the immune system, indicating that sleep is required to help the body fight short-term infection, and possibly long-term disease. Insomnia can also lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues, which can then impair sleep even further.
Many insomniacs who do manage to get some rest may have a troubled sleep. A study involving more than 1,000 participants found that many also suffer from nightmares, likely due to anxiety caused by long-term sleep deprivation. This was linked with trouble getting to sleep, waking regularly throughout the night, and feeling depressed. Depression and anxiety can result from trouble sleeping, which can lead to further health problems, such as high blood pressure and/or heart disease.
Sleep apnea is a disorder whereby breathing stops and starts during sleep. This can result in decreased oxygen levels in the body during the night, and can therefore impact wakefulness during the day. This also impairs the body’s ability to regulate blood pressure, even after only one night. Over time, this can lead to hypertension, or high blood pressure, which can negatively impact the heart and overall health.
The many health problems associated with sleep disorders prove that sleep is an important aspect of a healthy lifestyle. If there is something preventing you from sleeping, you should seek help, as you would with any illness, due to its possible long-term effects on your overall health.