Beyond Sleepy: The Damaging Effects of Untreated Insomnia

We all know that feeling after pulling an all-nighter or waking up a few hours earlier than normal: fatigued throughout the day with a fuzzy, groggy mind. While these sleepy days can be a grind and temporarily reduce our daytime performance, at least we look forward to a good, long recovery sleep. However, for some people — those who suffer from chronic insomnia — insufficient sleep is a regular occurrence, with no reliable relief in sight even when they spend plenty of time in bed.

Earlier this week, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine declared Insomnia Awareness Day, making this the perfect time to evaluate our sleep habits to ensure that occasional bouts of sleeplessness do not become chronic insomnia, which can take a toll on sufferers mentally, physically, emotionally and financially

Impact of Insomnia
While some forms of insomnia are temporary and easily resolved, chronic insomnia, or troubled sleep at least three nights per week persisting for more than three months, causes negative effects on overall wellness and daily functioning. Data show that health care costs are often higher in people with moderate to severe insomnia. If chronic insomnia remains untreated, sufferers are prone to health complications including an increased risk for depression and hypertension.

Chronic insomnia also has a negative impact on work and school performance, impairing concentration and motivation while increasing the risk of errors and accidents. According to a study in Sleep,insomnia is associated with an estimated 253 million days of lost work each year in the U.S. Another report in Sleep Medicine Reviews noted that insomnia causes more than $100 billion in annual costs, with the majority being spent on indirect costs such as poorer workplace performance, increased health care utilization, and increased accident risk.

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