Tag Archives: sleep problems
Do Sleep Problems Cause Mental Illness? Or Are They A Symptom Of It?
Americans are quite sleep deprived these days, but what you might not know is all of that not sleeping could be affecting your mental well-being. Or, is it that your mental health is leading to sleepless nights and yawn-filled days? The data paints a picture: Nearly one in five Americans suffers from some kind of mental illness, according to data from the National Institute of Mental Health. Even more surprising, a whopping 50 to 80 percent of people living with typical psychiatric illnesses also report chronic sleep problems, compared to less than 20 percent of the general population.
Age, indigestion and sleep apnea are all suspects. But if you can set your watch by your middle-of-the-night risings, blame alcohol.
It all results in the same thing: you just can’t get to sleep. But the underlying causes of insomnia are multiple, and it may be a mix of biological, medical and psychological issues, explains Michael Perlis, director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the University of Pennsylvania.
Insomnia falls into several broad categories based on those times of the night when you have problems sleeping, and these tend to align with predictable triggers. “A general rule of thumb is that if you’re struggling to fall asleep at the start of the night, that’s due to anxiety or stressful life events,” Perlis says. Environmental issues—like a too-bright room, or staring at device screens—can also mess with your ability to fall asleep.
On the other hand, Perlis says depression is linked with “late insomnia”—the kind that wrests you from sleep so late in the night that you’re forced to rise early for the day.
When it comes to “middle insomnia,” which forces your eyes open a few hours after you’ve fallen asleep, Perlis says two common medical conditions are often to blame: gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, and sleep apnea. “In the case of sleep apnea, you wake up because you’ve stopped breathing,” he explains. “With GERD, you wake up because stomach acids are burning your esophagus.”
Even the healthiest sleepers wake a few times during the night, though for the most part you’re not awake long enough to remember them, Perlis says.
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When you check into a hotel room or stay with a friend, is your first night of sleep disturbed? Do you toss and turn, mind strangely alert, unable to shut down in the usual way? If so, you’re in good company.
Sleep Problems = Pain Problems?
For at least some groups of “emerging adults,” sleep problems are a predictor of chronic pain and worsening pain severity over time, a study suggests. The study is published PAIN, the official publication of the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP). The journal is published by Wolters Kluwer.