Conservative estimates indicate that between 10% and 30% of Americans live with chronic insomnia, yet some studies reveal the number could be as much as to 50-60%. No matter what data you look at, it’s clear that insomnia is a pervasive problem, likely exacerbated by the pandemic. It’s important to treat your insomnia right away for the sake of your physical and mental health.
Risks of Untreated Insomnia
There are many risks for not getting enough sleep.
Insomnia causes increased risk for medical conditions such as stroke, asthma attacks, seizures, weak immune system, higher pain sensitivity, inflammation, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. You’re also at greater risk for mental health problems like confusion, frustration, anxiety and depression. In addition, insomnia can increase your risk for accidents and impair your sex drive.
One analysis that examined 1 million patients and 112,566 deaths found a correlation between sleep duration and mortality, with poor sleep increasing risk of death by 12% compared to those who slept seven to eight hours a night.
One risk not listed above that may surprise you is hearing loss.
Insomnia, Cardiovascular Disease & Hearing Loss
Insomnia and hearing loss are both comorbidities of cardiovascular disease. This is because insufficient sleep is known to cause poor blood circulation throughout the body, including the ears. The inner ears rely on a healthy blood flow in order to function properly.
Within the inner ears are hair cells called stereocilia, which convert soundwaves into electrical energy that the brain interprets as sound. When these cells don’t get enough oxygen from the blood supply, they die. And once dead, they do not regenerate.
Insomnia, Sleep Apnea & Hearing Loss
Another comorbidity of insomnia and hearing loss is sleep apnea. Approximately 43% of people with insomnia also have sleep apnea, a condition that causes you to stop breathing during sleep. People with severe sleep apnea may stop breathing over 30 times per hour. Sleep apnea has been found to increase the amount of plaque in the blood vessels, constricting blood flow and oxygen to the hair cells within the ears.
It’s important to seek treatment for insomnia, sleep apnea and hearing loss right away.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Mt. Hood ENT & Allergy today.