Health Conditions That May Affect Sleep

| August 8, 2012 | 0 Comments

Insomnia is the term coined to most conditions where sleep is restricted. However, what many people fail to discern is the underlying cause of the insomnia.

It is not well known that insomnia may be of two types; primary and secondary.

Primary insomnia refers to a sleep disorder where there is no apparent external cause responsible or it is of unknown origin; secondary insomnia is so called when the lack of sleep occurs secondarily to another medical condition.

Let us consider the possible health conditions that may be responsible for the development of secondary insomnia:

Thyroid Disorders

The effects of a dysfunctional thyroid gland can be far reaching; affecting everything from your appetite to your sleep. In normal persons, the thyroid gland is responsible for regulating metabolism of carbohydrates and proteins, and to a degree aiding in regulation of the body’s natural circadian rhythm.  In persons who have low levels of thyroid hormones (also known as hypothyroidism), energy levels have plummeted and that person may experience a condition known as somnolence (excessive daytime drowsiness). The result is an inability to effectively perform daily functions, and difficulty sleeping when it counts (at night).


Depression and insomnia go hand in hand to an extent; since many individuals who have been diagnosed with it have a difficult time getting to sleep. Depression makes it hard for a person to relax and unwind at the end of the day, since the mind is always racing. Sleep becomes a rarity in these individuals, with only medication providing decent relief.


Asthma is a condition that restricts sleep by two methods. Firstly, during an asthmatic attack, the airways become tight and inflamed (constricted), making it hard to breathe. Quite commonly, this constriction of the airways occurs with a cough and wheezing, further complicating efforts to sleep. Secondly, medications used for asthma are sometimes classified as stimulants, meaning that using them before bedtime is bound to keep you awake.

Heart Failure

Congestive Heart failure is a serious condition that requires exercising diligence to avoid a tragedy. Persons affected by this condition have difficulties with their heart pumping blood throughout the body. This occurs especially when the body is in a prone position; blood pools easily in the lungs in such a scenario. The best way to avoid encountering problems would be to ensure that the head is elevated on a pillow or two.


Obesity is the culprit of the century; it causes everything from diabetes to sleep difficulties. And it all results because of the extra burden it puts on your body. For starters, obese persons are much more likely to experience sleep apnea; a condition which makes it more difficult to breath during sleep. The infringement it causes on sleep does not end there, but by promoting development of other diseases, also worsens insomnia.

Coronary Artery Disease

The relationship between coronary artery disease and insomnia is twofold; each has an effect on the other. Lack of sleep has been shown to increase the likelihood of developing heart disease, while presence of the disease leads to a decreased quality of sleep overall. Good diet and sufficient exercise is advised to avert the double threat.


Times where the body may be infected with either a viral or bacterial organism can interfere with your quality of sleep. Even though the body is more likely to feel fatigued and have less energy, sleep is more difficult to obtain during this period of illness. However, while sleep may be harder to get, those who do get more have a better prognosis and feel better more quickly.

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Category: Insomnia

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