If you are sleep-deprived your behavior will be similar to that of a person who has had too much to drink. Symptoms for insomnia include:

• Low motivation

• Low pain threshold

• More susceptible to illness

• Hand-eye co-ordination difficulties

• Slow reaction time

• Impaired decision-making

• Increased irritability

• Lowered stress tolerance

• Reduced concentration

Although sleep loss can be just an inconvenience lack of sleep is not a minor problem and can be the catalyst that ruins relations as well as being a safety hazard that can result in the loss of life.

According to British and US sleep researchers insomnia affects around one quarter of the population.

Like food, water and exercise, quality sleep is vital for good health even though it is still not fully understood. We know the effect that the symptoms for insomnia can have on an individual but we do not understand why we have to lay practically comatose and vulnerable for a third of the day to gain sleep's benefits. From an evolutionary point of view sleeping must be a necessity as it would have been a dangerous strategy to lie defenseless and open to attack from hungry predators.

There are 3 main types of insomnia

  • Initial insomnia – where you have trouble getting to sleep. This may be due to worry or nervousness about some recent or future events or excessively busy mind.
  • Interrupted insomnia – where you wake up in the middle of the night on multiple occasions. This is likely when there is a medical condition involved such as those that involve breathing difficulty or it may be that you have accidently retrained your brain to wake during the night.
  • Early waking – where you wake up earlier than is healthy for you. This is often to do with a disruption to the body clock (circadian rhythm) as you might expect from traversing time zones. It could also be a warning signal for depression.

The body's processes

Throughout the day and night your body performances minor miracles just to keep you alive. Awake or sleep your heart keeps beating and your lungs keep breathing. Very many other complex processes are at work to maintain and refuel the many millions of cells that make up the human body.

These processes are a series of smaller events that repeat over and over again. But just to add to the complexity they are constantly interacting with each other, adjusting and tweaking the relationship.

Whatever it may be; running, eating, thinking, everything we do has an effect on the cycle of processes that make up our very existence and that includes sleep which is another process that is made up of cycles of events.

It is sleeping which puts all the activity of the day into context as well as refueling and repairing the body's cells.

Insomnia sufferers have sleep cycles that are disrupted, usually by more than one cause so it's necessary to realign all the cycles, rhythms and patterns of the body in order to develop a regular pattern of sleep night after night.

In summary

There is no doubt that the symptoms for insomnia have far-reaching effects especially if a sleep debt develops where sleep loss builds up over time magnifying the effects of sleep deprivation. This is sadly when life changing events occur such as a mother leaving the family home or a ship sinking.