Causes of Insomnia (Contd.)
Mental Health Problems That Contribute To Insomnia
Insomnia, particularly sleep-maintenance insomnia and early morning awakening, is a hallmark symptom of major depression. Some depressed individuals may instead exhibit excessive sleep, called hypersomnia.
Depressed people exhibit a number of other sleep disturbances, including reduced deep sleep, increased light sleep, and excessive REM sleep. They enter REM sleep earlier in the night and spend a greater percentage of time in REM sleep than nondepressed people. Recent research also suggests that the dream content of depressed people is more depressing than that of nondepressed people.
These findings concerning REM sleep disturbances in depression, coupled with the fact that antidepressant drugs work in part by suppressing REM sleep, suggest that abnormalities in dream sleep may be a cause of major depression.
Anxiety is another prevalent mental health problem that can disturb sleep. Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension, worry, or fear. When we experience too much anxiety, our sleep, work, sense of pleasure, and relationships can suffer.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is another mental health problem that can cause insomnia. In PTSD, a traumatic event (such as physical or sexual abuse, war, or a natural disaster) is continually re-experienced emotionally. This chronic "reliving" of the trauma results in fear, anxiety, physical stress responses, insomnia, and nightmares.
When you are under stress, you tend to sleep poorly. However, many people start worrying that they are not getting enough sleep. They worry about not being able to function effectively during the day. This creates anxiety that leads to further insomnia. So, the stress induced insomnia tend to feed on itself on people who are susceptible to worrying.
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