What are the long term effects of Insomnia on the brain, body and health?

What are it's side effects psychologically and physically

On of the major long term negative side effects of insomnia on the body is sleep deprivation.

It can affect an individual physically and psychologically and cause detriment to one's health. Other symptoms include weakened immune system, low self esteem, memory loss and weight gain.

Long term insomnia can develop over time to become serious health problems such as diabetes, obesity, depression and cardiovascular disease. Mental ability, performance and productivity are all affected and quality of life is impaired. Insomnia is therefore a serious disorder that can lead to major problems. One noticeable effect is lack of self esteem. But surprisingly it has been found that physical appearance is not affected.

Loss of sleep can lead to obesity with a gain in waist circumference and BMI (Body mass index) as lack of sleep encourages the person to eat due to  hormone changes. This involves the production of a hormone called Ghrelin which increases appetite. Correspondingly less Leptin which suppresses appetite is produced. Long term insomniacs almost double the risk of becoming obese, says Professor Francesco Cappuccio of Warwick Medical School. Getting good restful sleep can lead to corresponding weight loss and normalisation. In fact getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis can help you lose weight. Even children as young as five years old can be affected in this way from lack of sleep.

Memory Loss

Sleep deprivation arising from insomnia damages the memory. At the Harvard Medical School Dr Jeffrey Ellenbogen discovered that “sleep protects memories from interference.” In fact a student has more chance of retaining information if he or she falls asleep after learning a new skill or studying for an exam or test.

If on the other hand he or she just continues with daily activities there will be a 44% less chance of retaining the information. The bottom line is that  getting good sleep, aids the memory - while losing sleep damages it.

Intellectual impairment

There is no doubt that lack of sleep can damage intellectual ability and performance, researchers at the University of Virginia have found. Children have demonstrated impaired cognitive function when they have missed out on sleep.

Physical impairment

Lack of sleep can negatively affect coordination, clumsiness and tremors and motor functions, delayed reaction time, reduced endurance and cardiovascular performance. Fatigue is inevitable.

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