There are so many horror stories about people in a financial crunch going to "payday loan" providers who charge exorbitant interest rates and fees that get borrowers on a financial hamster wheel that can destroy them in the end.
The vicious cycle takes a stranglehold; after the original loan, plus fees is paid the borrower is often in the same or worse financial position than before. So they take out another loan to get some quick cash to keep things going as they struggle to make ends meet and cover their ongoing and now escalating debt.
Insomnia and the side effects of insomnia can work the same way as a vicious cycle of sleep debt builds as patients struggle to find ways to get the hours of sleep they need—sometimes in ways that are ill-advised and counterproductive.
Too often sleep is given too little consideration and in our busy world it is almost seen as a "time bank" where people can borrow time they need for other things going on in their life. Whether it's stay up late for partying, for hitting the books or getting that proposal ready for the meeting on Monday the extra time needed is often taken out of sleep time.
But what happens when the bank runs low? What happens when cutting hours of sleep becomes a habit. And what if it is no longer just when we decide to sleep less; what if we just can't get to sleep even if we want to? Let's take a look at some of the side effects of insomnia.
Since sleep is a normal and familiar thing we do, we become complacent and ignore warning signs and give the importance of sleep to our overall mental and physical health short shrift.
In general terms we can define different types of insomnia. Of course, there is acute (short term) and chronic (long term). Often acute insomnia can be caused by stressful life events that keep our minds racing and preventing sleep. Most of us have experience this with financial worries, relationship problems or the death of a loved one.
Other common culprits for acute insomnia can include things like, medications, short-term illness, jet lag and shift change at work. But these are things that generally work themselves out and allow one to get back to a normal sleep schedule with only intermittent episodes of insomnia.
While insomnia can start as acute if the underlying issue is not dealt with it can become a chronic condition and eventually becoming a vicious cycle.
While there is a fairly loose definition of what constitutes chronic insomnia, generally it is insomnia, along with the side effects of insomnia, affecting a person for a month or longer. Of course insomnia can drag on for many months or years.
Another consideration when looking at insomnia side effects is whether it is primary or secondary insomnia. With primary insomnia it is the insomnia itself or inability to sleep, stay asleep or get a quality level of sleep but it doesn't appear to have another cause.
With secondary insomnia there is a diagnosed illness that is the primary condition, but secondary to that condition insomnia also results. A particularly vicious cycle can be established with depression and anxiety.
The original depression can interfere with sleep resulting in chronic secondary insomnia which in turn has deleterious effects on the brain and body that reinforces the depression and resulting in greater stress and anxiety about the growing problem of insomnia which compounds the original cause. Round and round the patient goes on a nightmarish carousel.
Other potential primary causes of secondary insomnia are things like chronic stress (such as those subjected to workplace bullying or mobbing), breathing problems, heart condition, need to urinate often during night, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Parkinson's disease, or pain and discomfort.
Arthritis and degenerative joint diseases create a particularly vicious cycle. Lack of sleep affects the immune system and can cause the development of arthritis. Once the pain of arthritis sets in it further undermines the ability to get to sleep which further exacerbates the arthritis, leading to more pain and less sleep, and so on it devolves.
So while arthritis can in this way be considered one of the insomnia side effects this is true for a host of other systems in the body that degenerate as they also rely on good quality and duration of sleep to function properly.
When it comes to insomnia side effects can be far ranging due to the vital role sleep plays in maintaining both our physical and mental health.
Physical side effects of insomnia:
Lack of energy, heart disease, heart attack, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, higher cortisol levels, lower levels of human growth hormone and testosterone, weight gain, and death. Yes, death.
Mental side effects of insomnia:
Depression, diminished sex drive, memory problems and forgetfulness, irritability, inability to concentrate, and impaired judgment. With your reasoning and problem solving abilities severely impacted you're bound to start making bad decisions that compound the problem.
With insomnia side effects are much more far-reaching than just the damage they do to your physical and mental health. When you are a snarling, snapping, disoriented, forgetful, tired, and physically ill zombie it is going to have an effect on everyone around you.
A serious side effect of insomnia is the alienation of family and friends, not to mention putting your job at risk when your performance plummets. Worse still is the menace you can be to yourself and others when operating machinery or when behind the wheel of a car. Fatigue is responsible for 100,000 crashes and 1,550 deaths a year according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Impairment to reaction time is on a par with drunk drivers.
If you think you've adapted to lower levels of sleep and you can get away with less than 6 hours of sleep a night you are fooling yourself with potentially catastrophic consequences.
Whether you are suffering from acute or chronic insomnia or whether it is primary or from a secondary cause it is vital that you take insomnia side effects seriously.
The side effects of insomnia can damage your physical and mental health, your job and relationships and even cause mayhem in the wider society.
If you are suffering from any kind of insomnia consult your doctor rather than letting it escalate or trying to self-medicate with this, that, and the other over-the-counter or herbal medication.
That's not to say you want to just get prescription sleep aid pills either. Any of these sleep remedies may be helpful for the short-term but as a long-term solution tend to fail. This is primarily due to the problem that they generally don't allow you the full deep restorative sleep you need. Don't fall into the vicious cycle because the side effects of insomnia can be dangerous.
I hope you can get off the hamster wheel of insomnia—and of a payday loan if you have one of those too.