We often think of insomnia as being an issue that plagues us primarily at night, but for people who battle with the issue, the negative impact doesn't only occur when you've turned the lights out. There are many ways insomnia affects you during the day, largely because sleep is so integral to our bodies' and minds' ability to heal and rejuvinate. If we aren't getting the recommended amount of sleep — per the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult needs between seven and nine hours of sleep per night — we can face some serious health risks. For instance, if you chronically under-sleep, you're at a higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and even death at an early age. Insmonia is no joke.
Now, if you're someone who finds yourself cutting down on your sleeping hours so you can watch Netflix until the wee hours of the morning, that's a habit you can probably control if you work on it. If you suffer from insomnia, however, it's much easier said than done to just "go to sleep." Insomnia is a medical condition, not a choice, and it can have serious impacts on people's day-to-day functioning.
If you think you're suffering from insomnia, it's important to consult a medical professional and see what treatment options are available to you; even if you think you can just tough it out and push through your day on barely any sleep, in the long run, it can cause serious problems for your health. You might, for example, notice the following things happening to you during the daylight hours:
1. It Can Impact Your Mood
You know how grumpy you feel after not getting enough sleep one night? Imagine trying to socialize on minimal sleep for an extended period of time. (Spoiler: It's no fun). Studies from Harvard University show that sleep and mood are closely related. For example, people who experience poor or inadequate sleep are at a higher risk for being irritable and stressed, while people who achieve the recommended amount of sleep are more likely to have their good moods enhanced. The same studies show that people who chronically don't get enough sleep are at a higher risk for developing mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression.
2. It Can Make It Harder To Remember Things
You remember how your parents always told you not to stay up all night before an exam cramming, because your brain needs sleep to remember stuff? They were pretty much right: Not sleeping can have a huge impact on your memory. Sleep is your brain's opportunity to process information from your day, ranging from things you've studied to the experiences you've had. If you aren't getting an adequate amount of sleep, your brain is likely to feel foggy and your judgment is likely to go down the tubes.
3. It Can Slam Your Energy Levels
Personally, I feel drained when I don't get enough sleep for one night, much less multiple nights in a row. For people who suffer from insomnia, it can become the norm to experience low energy levels, even during their waking hours. Lack of energy can also impact motivation for people, in that it can be easy to feel like you aren't getting enough done, or are making too many mistakes, and then feel discouraged. After all, if you're already exhausted, isn't it so tempting to lie down and try to fall back asleep? Insomnia can be a slippery slope for a lot of people, particularly if you delay treatment.
4. It Can Damage Your Self-Esteem
Studies show that people who experience insomnia tend to have lower self-esteem and lower confidence levels than people who get an adequate amount of sleep on a regular basis. If you often experience insomnia and you realize it's beginning to impact your daily life, it's easy to see why it could have an adverse affect on the way you see yourself: What can be more frustrating than wanting to do your work, do well in school, and have fun with your loved ones, but a chronic lack of sleep is keeping you from being, well, you? Psychologists believe that counseling is an important route for many people who suffer from insomnia, in addition to other medical treatment.
5. It Can Make It More Difficult To Concentrate
It's no surprise that a lack of sleep impacts your concentration, but it's shocking how deeply the impact can hit. For example, a 2013 study published in Sleep journal found that people who suffered from insomnia not only completed tasks less efficiently, but also struggled to turn off "brain-wandering" during timed tasks, and struggled to access other "resources" in their brain and networking to complete tasks faster. This is another reason pulling an all-nighter the night before a big exam or presentation can be a recipe for disaster.