Difficulties in falling asleep, nocturnal awakenings, incessant ruminations ... insomnia is a sleep disorder that affects nearly 20% of French people. However, sleep accounts for over a third of our life and is directly linked to our health. Let's see in more detail, the causes and consequences of a chronic lack of sleep on our health.
The causes of insomnia?
Insomnia is a one-time or chronic sleep disorder marked by difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Usually original multifactorial, it can be caused by several factors.
Stress and anxiety
Situations of stress oranxiety can cause insomnia and delay the phase of falling asleep. Indeed, in case of stress, the body will react and position itself in "alert" mode by synthesizing a hormone called cortisol. This hormone could eventually alter the body's neurophysiological balance and especially inhibit the secretion of melatonin.
The environment and healthy living
Sleep disturbances can be favored by an environment not conducive to falling asleep : heat, artificial light, noise, night work… All the more so in the digital age it is still tempting (very tempting) to nibble a few hours of sleep in front of the screens and so disrupt our sleep cycles and melatonin synthesis.
Other factors, such as poorly adapted diet and / or insufficient physical activity can also alter our sleepiness and impact the quality of our sleep and lead to insomnia.
Did you know?
Melatonin synthesis begins in low light conditions and peaks in production between 2 and 4 a.m.
Insomnia can also be the consequence of chronic pathology original organic (inflammatory diseases, fibromyalgia, hyperthyroidism ...) or of origin psychiatric (bipolar disorders, depressive states, generalized anxiety ...) disturbing sleep. Without the support of a health professional, this insomnia is generally severe and persistent.
The effects of insomnia on our health
When regular and repeated, many studies have shown that insomnia can eventually lead to various harmful disorders for our health and our socio-professional relations.
Have you ever woken up in a bad mood after having had a bad night? This is because sleep is involved in regulation of our emotions. Thus, a chronic lack of sleep can lead toirritability and mood swings frequent. Recurrent insomnia affects different areas of our brain, including those involved in managing our emotions.
Difficulties with concentration and memorization
Sleep plays a key role inlearning and the consolidation of our knowledge. Thus, insomnia can cause a lack of concentration and memory loss with a negative impact on both our personal relationships and our intellectual performance.
There is a real vicious circle between stress and insomnia. Indeed, the cortisol secreted in case of stress deteriorates the quality of sleep and induced fatigue itself increases cortisol production, increasing stress and anxiety.
A take weight
Repetitive insomnia and sleep deprivation lead to deregulation of the synthesis of hormones involved in our eating behavior and in the fat storage such as ghrelin, leptin, insulin and cortisol, inevitably promoting weight gain.
One aincreased risk of chronic pathologies
Several studies have shown that insomnia causes disturbances deep metabolism such as increased oxidative stress, insulin resistance and inflammatory response, increasing the risk of develop certain metabolic disorders such as type II diabetes, cardiovascular disorders or neurodegenerative pathologies.
A weaker immune system
Sleep allows our immune system to function well and regenerate itself. Chronic sleep deprivation therefore weakens our immune defenses, increasing the risk of infections.. An American study has shown that sleeping less than 6 hours a night could quadruple the risk of catching a cold.
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Prather, AA, Janicki-Deverts, D., Hall, MH, & Cohen, S. (2015). Behaviorally assessed sleep and susceptibility to the common cold. Sleep, 38
Shamim, SA, Warriach, ZI, Tariq, MA, Rana, KF, & Malik, BH (2019). Insomnia: Risk Factor for Neurodegenerative Diseases. Cureus, 11(10), and 6004.
Wiebe, ST, Cassoff, J., & Gruber, R. (2012). Sleep patterns and the risk for unipolar depression: a review. Nature and science of sleep, 463-71.