How dangerous is insomnia? Experts explain what you should be careful about and what you shouldn't be too careful about.

Insomnia is said to affect 10-30% of the world's population, and it has been pointed out

that worrying about time can make the symptoms worse , and that if it persists, it can impair concentration and learning ability. I am. Leon Luck, professor emeritus of psychology at Flinders University's Sleep Health (formerly the Adelaide Sleep Health Institute), explains about insomnia.

How dangerous is insomnia? How fear of what it's doing to your body can wreck your sleep

Luck says he has seen multiple patients who are concerned that their symptoms of insomnia may increase their risk of developing dementia. These patients, all in their 70s, appeared to have come to the hospital thinking they had insomnia because they woke up two or three times a night. However, these patients did not exhibit typical symptoms of insomnia.

Luck points out that repeated brief awakenings during the night, like those experienced by these patients, are normal and completely harmless reactions that occur in most people.

Sleep has a cycle, and ``REM sleep'', which organizes and consolidates memories, and ``NREM sleep'', which allows the brain and body to rest, fluctuate in cycles of about 90 minutes. It is said that REM sleep is light sleep and NREM sleep is deep sleep, and humans seem to repeat this cycle of REM sleep and NREM sleep 4 to 5 times regularly during sleep.

People who do not know that the type of sleep changes in 90-minute cycles may think that waking up many times during sleep may be a sign of illness, but this may be due to age. Mr. Luck pointed out that human sleep naturally becomes shallower and shorter as time passes, so ``waking up during the night does not have a negative effect on the human body.''

Basically, insomnia is diagnosed only if you wake up during the night and also experience symptoms during the day, such as fatigue, cognitive impairment, mild depression, irritability, pain, or anxiety.

Dr. Luck wondered, ``Why did patients think that sleep disorders could lead to dementia?'' and began investigating this question. The first thing we looked at was

a large-scale study that looked at measuring sleep disturbances and the development of dementia.

Typically, most research papers ask participants to report their usual sleep hours. In this study, subjects were similarly asked to report their daily sleep hours using a questionnaire. Analysis of this data revealed that people who reported sleeping less than six hours a day had a statistically higher risk of developing dementia.

However, this study did not indicate whether the subjects had been diagnosed with ``insomnia'' by a medical institution; instead, it was based on the ``hours of sleep per day'' that the subjects self-reported. I am arbitrarily deciding whether or not to do so. Luck pointed out that this type of judgment is 'inaccurate.'

Furthermore, ``many of the subjects identified as insomniacs in this study were simply not getting enough sleep, perhaps due to socializing or playing computer games late into the night.'' So what percentage of these short sleepers are simply overestimating their sleep problems, or are they experiencing chronic sleep deprivation rather than insomnia? I can't decide whether that's the case,' he said.

The second problem lies in the interpretation of the meaning of the term 'statistically significant.' This only means that the results are less likely to be due to chance, Lack noted. For example, if a single study showed that insomnia increases the risk of physical health problems by 20%, how worried should we be about the research results? It doesn't mean it's worth considering in your life.'

Regarding studies linking insomnia to health risks, Luck said, ``They are not always consistent. For example, some studies conclude that insomnia increases the risk of dementia, but others do not. A

large study found no association between sleep duration or sleep quality and the risk of developing dementia,' pointing out the inconsistency in research results related to insomnia. .

Additionally, Lack explains that it is 'very difficult' to convey a balanced view of the potential dangers of insomnia to the public. Some major media outlets, with the help of research institutions, are publishing studies that show that the risk of serious diseases such as dementia is statistically significant.

However, all media outlets have not provided detailed information on how clinically significant this type of risk is, whether there are alternative explanations, and how the study results compare with the findings of other researchers. This is not an explanation. As a result, Mr. Luck points out that from the general public's perspective, the stories are all about ``horrible increases in risk'' and no context is reported to alleviate this.

In addition to dementia, the negative effects of insomnia on the human body include obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Although it is clear that these symptoms are associated with sleep deprivation, there remains debate as to whether these associations are real, meaningful, or related to insomnia. .

Studies examining the impact of sleep problems on life expectancy have found no evidence that sleep symptoms alone shorten lifespan. It seems that the risk of early death increases slightly only when symptoms such as fatigue, memory loss, and pain that occur during the day are included. However, it is not clear whether this early mortality risk is due to undiagnosed heart, kidney, liver, or brain disease.

On the other hand, Lack pointed out that ``there is very strong evidence '' that insomnia increases the incidence of depression. Typical symptoms caused by insomnia, such as fatigue, pain, and cognitive impairment, definitely reduce the patient's quality of life. Life becomes more difficult and less enjoyable, and eventually feelings of hopelessness increase, triggering depression. However, it is possible to reduce the onset of depression by improving sleep and quality of life, Luck said.

Mr. Luck tells people who suffer from insomnia that they should seek help from a doctor, and recommends cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia as an effective, long-term, non-drug treatment with no side effects. Masu. Successful cognitive behavioral therapy can also reduce depression and other symptoms that negatively impact mental health, Lack said.

Furthermore, 'unnecessary fear caused by research findings suggesting serious physical dangers from insomnia is unhelpful. This type of fear is likely to make insomnia worse, not less.' He pointed out that paying too much attention to research results regarding insomnia could make the symptoms worse.

in Science, Posted by logu_ii