Insomnia, how much stress weighs and how to measure it while you sleep (to fight it)

April sweet sleep? Not for all. Heavy that according to data from the Italian Association for Sleep Medicine almost one in four adults suffers from chronic or transient insomnia.
To define the first case, let's keep in mind that insomnia is defined as acontinuous dissatisfaction for at least 3 months (for at least 3 nights a week) in the quality or quantity of sleep without the presence of known factors that hinder it. And it is estimated that up to one person in ten deal with sleep disorders that persist over time, perhaps in different ways.

The economic impact of insomnia

The economic impact of insomnia is very significant as it is one of the main causes of absenteeism and reduced productivity at work. Poor management of insomnia is associated with an increased risk of traffic accidents, falls and workplace injuries. In Europe, the total annual burden of insomnia is equal to approximately 50 billion euros. However, this data refers only to direct costs, such as costs for drugs and psychotherapeutic treatment. Indirect costs due to absenteeism, reduction in productivity at work andincrease in injuries and the risk of road accidents.

How stress changes sleep well-being

There are those who cannot fall asleep, those who have problems staying asleep, those who wake up very early and those who instead see these elements combined in various ways. What happens in the world, perhaps combined with tensions due to the economic situation and a less than optimistic vision of the future, can create a condition of stress that in some way makes it more difficult to rest well. And therefore it “ruins” our days, with feelings of fatigue, reduced energy, alteration of mood. In short, stress becomes an enemy to be fought.

But how much can it impact our well-being? An answer comes from original research coordinated by Laura Bloomfield and other experts from the University of Vermont, which appeared in PLOS Digital Health and conducted with tools capable of detecting stress during rest. The study demonstrates how there is a close relationship between our perception of stress and rest.

What happens when we sleep “stressed”

The research examined several hundred students, as part of the LEMURS study (Lived Experience Measured Using Rings Study), which involved the use of a biosensor to measure stress as well as targeted questionnaires. With this system it was measured how stress can affect rest. The experts examined all the information collected and found it to be accurate associations between subjects' self-reported perception of stress and sleep. In particular, it has been seen that stress itself is associated with non-positive variations with total sleep time, resting heart rate, heart rate variability and breathing frequency. Not only that: it has also been seen that for each additional hour of sleep recorded, the odds of someone reporting moderate to high stress decreased by about 38%.

There resting nocturnal heart rate offered further clues. For each additional beat per minute, the odds of experiencing stress increased by 3.6%. In short: by measuring what happens in sleep we can hope to identify who is most stressed and therefore, in perspective, study targeted treatments to counteract emotional tension and also improve your night's rest.
Furthermore, again in this population of young people, it was seen that, in particular in the female population, those who had greater emotional difficulties in everyday life following a tendency towards anxious or depressive behavior had a heart rate that decreased later during the night. With night rest, normally, the heart tends to beat at a slower speed, and then starts to increase its frequency again towards awakening.

How much it weighs to sleep little and/or badly

Don't think that insomnia limits its effects to the night. The painting in fact, it can also act during the day.
The first consequences of disturbed sleep concern cognitive aspects, for example ability to concentrate and pay attention, which can suffer a negative impact linked to poor and little sleep. Obviously you often have the feeling of not being able to carry out your work or not being able to fully concentrate on your daily life activities.
If you don't sleep well, even for just one night, you can also have consequences that affect your health emotional sphere. In fact, sleep plays an important role in regulating emotions. In particular, chronic insomnia is associated with one spectrum of often negative emotions ranging from nervousness at the voltageto greater emotional reactivity, impulsiveness and reactivity, even in the decisions we make, precisely due to the lack of appropriate emotional control.
Furthermore, the consequences of insomnia concern the somatic sphere with symptoms such as tirednessthe fatigue and sometimes the drowsiness.

So certainly the consequences of insomnia on daily life are on the cognitive, emotional and physical aspects and this often impacts in the long run on general functioning, for example about relationshipson the organization of life, on social relationships. The life of insomniacs is at a certain point compromised, so much so that they are often forced to give up various aspects of daily life such as interpersonal relationships.

Can we know if we suffer from insomnia or simply need rest?

Unlike a simple lack of sleep, thean insomniac would like to sleep and suffers because he can't. He experiences a condition of subjective suffering, he goes to bed and feels the need, the desire, the need to sleep, but without being able to do so because the body is tired and needs to recover while the brain is active, so the person is unable to abandon himself to sleep.
All this can create problems: if you lie in bed while awake you think, with thoughts swirling in your mind and having to do with the past day, with the future day, with many worries and then you think that you can't fall asleep. Nocturnal suffering and daytime symptoms they are the fundamental element that differentiates insomnia from a simple lack of sleep. Our society is organized with monophasic sleep and above all waking activities. Compared to our ancestors, we sleep an hour and a half, two less.

Stress, but not only that, those who are most at risk of insomnia

Emotional tension weighs heavily on rest. Also because it is among the causes of insomnia hyperactivation of the wakefulness signaling system in the brain, also known as the “fight or flight response” which interferes with the natural “shutdown” needed for sleep.

When a person is about to sleep, a real “race” occurs between the waking centers, which tend to keep him or her awake, and the sleep centers, which stimulate falling asleep. Insomnia therefore arises when the person is unable to “turn off” the waking centers and abandon himself to the sleep ones.
In particular, reduced deactivation of brain regions involved in executive control, attention and self-awareness has been observed in patients suffering from insomnia.

The work or economic stress, as well as being linked to complex geopolitical dynamics, can therefore represent a factor that prevents us from “turning off” the centers of wakefulness and allowing us to rest. But there are also other elements that must be remembered, fromuse of drugs such as cortisone derivatives up to delicate passages of existence, such as bereavement or separationto get up toexcessive intake of stimulants such as alcohol, caffeine or nicotine and to ways of working that can facilitate the jet lag.