Insomnia is easy to recognize when you have the most common symptoms: difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, early morning awakenings, or sleep that is not refreshing in the absence of another sleep disorder. However, there can be some surprising signs and symptoms of insomnia, too. These may be harder to recognize and could be overlooked by many. Learn about some of these surprising signs that may be associated with insomnia and may suggest causes of poor sleep and difficulty sleeping.
1. Anxiety or Depression
Mood disorders walk hand in hand with insomnia. A poor night’s sleep often leads to daytime mood consequences and, conversely, problems with mood during the day often impact sleep at night. Poor sleep can easily lead to irritability. Depression may be associated with early morning awakenings and difficulty returning to sleep.
Anxiety may leave your mind buzzing at night: worries washing over you as you try to get to sleep. When sleep becomes difficult to obtain in chronic insomnia, this may fuel the fires of anxiety, making matters worse. Some people will even experience nightmares or wake from sleep in a panic attack. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can profoundly affect sleep and lead to insomnia.
2. Suicidal Thoughts
It should not be too surprising that since insomnia is associated with depression it is also linked to an increased risk of suicide. When people do not sleep well at night, desperation may follow as things spiral out of control.
Poor sleep and sleep deprivation may affect serotonin levels and the function of the frontal lobe of the brain. The frontal lobe is responsible for various executive functions, key in making rational choices and appropriate social interactions. When impaired, the ability to suppress suicidal thoughts, or even the outright impulse to kill oneself, may be lost.
Studies suggest that the risk of suicide may double among those with insomnia, with the highest risk among those who wake too early, having three times as many suicide attempts. Anyone with such thoughts should seek help by contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at (800) 273-8255.