Insomnia Risks

Insomnia Risks

Insomnia & Poor Sleep Quality

Insomnia is difficulty:

  • falling asleep
  • staying asleep
  • sleeping long enough
  • waking up refreshed

You have insomnia, if you:

  • find it difficult to fall asleep
  • lie awake for long periods at night
  • wake up several times during the night
  • wake up early in the morning and not be able to get back to sleep
  • not feel refreshed when you get up
  • find it hard to nap during the day, despite feeling tired
  • feel tired and irritable during the day and have difficulty concentrating
insomnia risks

Occasional episodes of insomnia may come and go without causing any serious problems, but for some people it can last for months or even years at a time.


Persistent insomnia can have a significant impact on your quality of life. It can:

  • limit what you’re able to do during the day
  • affect your mood
  • lead to relationship problems with friends, family and colleagues

How Much Sleep Do I Need?

On average, a “normal” amount of sleep for an adult is considered to be around 7- 9 hours a night. Children and babies may sleep for much longer than this, whereas older adults may sleep less. What’s important is the quality of sleep and appropriate hours of sleep. You’re probably not getting enough good-quality sleep if you constantly feel tired throughout the day and it’s affecting your everyday life.


What Causes Insomnia?

It’s not always clear what triggers insomnia, but it’s often associated with:
  • stress and anxiety
  • a poor sleeping environment– such as an uncomfortable bed, or a bedroom that’s too light, noisy, hot or cold
  • lifestyle factors– such as jet lag, shift work, or drinking alcohol or caffeine before going to bed
  • mental health conditions– such as depression and schizophrenia
  • physical health conditions– such as heart problems, other sleep disorders and long-term pain
  • certain medicines– such as some antidepressantsepilepsy medicines and steroid medication

10 types of medicines that can cause Insomnia

Health Risks of Insomnia & Poor Sleep Quality

What many people do not realize is that a lack of sleep—especially on a regular basis—is associated with long-term health consequences, including chronic medical conditions like diabeteshigh blood pressure, and heart disease, and that these conditions may lead to a shortened life expectancy. Additional research studies show that habitually sleeping more than nine hours is also associated with poor health.

Of course, just as sleep problems can affect disease risk, several diseases and disorders can also affect the amount of sleep we get. While an estimated 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from some type of sleep disorder, most people do not mention their sleeping problems to their doctors. Most doctors also do not necessarily ask about them. This widespread lack of awareness of the impact of sleep problems can have serious and costly public health consequences.


20% more likely to die in 20 years

A 2010 study found that men who slept less than six hours a night were actually four times (4X) more likely than women to die over a 14-year period.


More likely to die from high blood pressure, 85% higher risk of developing stroke

Studies demonstrate a strong correlation between the severity of obstructive sleep apnea and the risk and severity of hypertension. Researchers also found a strong link between sleep quality and resistant hypertension, which does not respond to typical drug-based treatments.

A large population based study showed much higher risk of developing stroke in younger people with insomnia, 8-fold higher risk than those without insomnia.


62% higher Breast Cancer risk

Actually, a small but growing body of research suggests a link between poor sleep and several other types of cancer too, including this study of colorectal adenoma.


Can slow down

Researchers at Duke-NUS Medical School have found evidence that the less older adults sleep, the faster their brains age. Findings relate short sleep to a marker of brain aging.


Risk developing Type 2 Diabetes

Studies have shown that people who reported sleeping fewer than five hours per night had a greatly increased risk of having or developing type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, studies have also found that improved sleep can positively influence blood sugar control and reduce the effects of type 2 diabetes.


Suppress immune system function

Not getting enough sleep has been linked to a laundry list of mental and physical health problems, including those that stem from an impaired immune system. Sleep and the circadian system influence the regulation of immune functions.


353% higher risk of heart failure

Research from Warwick Medical School and other studies have shown that prolonged sleep deprivation can have serious long-term health effect and increased risk of dying from heart attacks, cardiovascular disorders, or stroke, because without enough sleep, the body can produce more of the chemicals and hormones that lead to heart disease and not enough of those that prevent it.

A large European study found that those who suffered from three symptoms of insomnia had a more than threefold (3X) increased risk of developing heart failure.


More likely to develop Alzheimer’s

It’s common for Alzheimer’s patients to have sleep disorders, which researchers thought was a result of the disease. Researchers in a study led by Oregon Health and Science University believe that it might be the other way around.

It’s during deep sleep that our brain is able to rid itself of harmful toxins, including beta-amyloid commonly associated with Alzheimer’s disease. If we don’t get adequate sleep, the brain might not be able to carry out this function, causing amyloid to accumulate. This, in turn, potentially increases risk for Azheimer’s disease.


Can cause obesity

Sleep debt has a harmful impact on carbohydrate metabolism and endocrine function. A study showed that daily sleep duration of less than 12 hours during infancy is a risk factor for overweight and adiposity in preschool-aged children.


Can increase risk of arteriosclerosis by 27%

Poor sleep quality in elderly persons is associated with more severe arteriosclerosis in the brain as well as a greater burden of oxygen-starved tissue in the brain – both of which can contribute to the risk of stroke and cognitive impairment. Coronary artery calcium were associated with short sleep duration.


Can develop anxiety disorders and depression

Studies have shown results consistent with insomnia being a risk factor for development of anxiety disorders and depression.

What Does Harvard Medical School Say?

Sleep is often one of the first things to go when people feel pressed for time. Many view sleep as a luxury and think that the benefits of limiting the hours they spend asleep outweigh the costs. People often overlook the potential long-term health consequences of insufficient sleep, and the impact that health problems can ultimately have on one’s time and productivity.

Many of the costs of poor sleep go unnoticed. Medical conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, develop over long periods of time and result from a number of factors, such as genetics, poor nutrition, and lack of exercise. Insufficient sleep has also been linked to these and other health problems, and is considered an important risk factor. 

Although scientists have just begun to identify the connections between insufficient sleep and disease, most experts have concluded that getting enough high-quality sleep may be as important to health and well-being as nutrition and exercise.

Do I Have Insomnia?