What're the complications of insomnia?
Impaired mental functioning. Insomnia can affect concentration and memory, and can affect one's ability to perform daily tasks. Some experts report that deep sleep deprivation impairs the brain's ability to process information. Two to three hours of sleep every night for a week significantly impaired performance and mood. Some studies have reported
problems in memorization, although others have found no differences in test scores between people with temporary sleep loss and those with full sleep.
Accidents. Insomnia endangers public safety by contributing to traffic and industrial accidents. Various studies have shown that fatigue plays a major role in automobile and machinery accidents. As many as 100,000 automobile accidents, accounting for 1,500 deaths, are caused by sleepiness. Estimates on fatigue as a cause of automobile crashes range from 1% to 56%, depending on the study.
Mortality Rates. People with insomnia did not have elevated mortality rates, which supported earlier evidence. People who took sleeping pills, however, did have lower survival rates. Insomnia is virtually never lethal except in rare cases, such the genetic disorder called fatal familial insomnia. This rare degenerative brain disease develops in late adulthood. It is progressive and the individual develops intractable insomnia, which eventually becomes fatal.
Stress and depression. Even modest alterations in waking and sleeping patterns can have significant effects on a person's mood. Persistent insomnia may even predict the future development of emotional disorders in some cases. Insomnia increases the activity of the hormones and pathways in the brain that cause stress, and changes in sleeping patterns have been shown to have significant affects on mood. Ongoing insomnia may be a sign of anxiety and depression.
Heart disease. One study reported that people with chronic insomnia had signs of heart and nervous system activity that might put them at risk for heart disease.
Headaches. Headaches that occur during the night or early in the morning may be related to a sleep disorder.