Insomnia itself is not life threatening, but it can increase the risk of accidents, psychiatric problems, and certain medical conditions, affect school and work performance, and significantly interfere with quality of life. Lack of sleep can cause weight gain and obesity.
Sleepiness increases the risk for motor vehicle accidents. Studies indicate that drowsy driving is as risky as drunk driving.
Surveys show that people with severe insomnia have a quality of life that is almost as poor as those who have chronic conditions, such as heart failure. Daytime sleepiness can lead to decreased energy, irritability, mistakes at work and school, and poorer relationships.
Studies suggest that insomnia makes it harder to concentrate and perform tasks. Deep sleep deprivation impairs the brain's ability to process information and reduces concentration.
Although stress and depression are major causes of insomnia, insomnia may also increase the activity of the hormones and pathways in the brain that can produce emotional problems. Research indicates that chronic insomnia can increase the risk of developing depression and anxiety.
Even modest alterations in waking and sleeping patterns can have significant effects on a person's mood. In both children and adults, the combination of insomnia and daytime sleepiness can produce more severe depression than either condition alone.
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