View Full Version : Can lack of sleep cause anemia?

03-27-2010, 10:08 AM
I'm an anemic myself, and from what I can recall during those years I had serious battles with the disease (12-13yrs old), my doctors said it had something to do with my insomnia and my body's just not getting enough iron or creating blood cells or something. I used to collapse from time to time, with the world spinning all around me, it was completely nauseating and I almost always vomit.

I've been researching to see if there really is a connection between lack of sleep and anemia but so far, I can't find any material that really connect the two. You see, in my World War II manuscript, my character will be sent to a clinic after she suffered bouts of nausea and vomiting. Her lover will think she is pregnant, but the doctor says it's just anemia, and asks her if she's been staying up late at night.

Now, she (my character) is really staying up late at night, this is an important part of the story and one that has to be mentioned. Do you think the above scenario is plausible? The doctor attributing her nausea not to pregnancy, but anemia? And yeah, this was the 1940s, so I'm really not sure.

Appreciate the input :D

03-27-2010, 10:47 AM
Am not a doctor, but it is my understanding that it is from a lack of iron that causes this problem. Also a lack of iron will cause one to be wore out a lot. Never heard it having to do with lack of sleep.

I'm sure someone will be by with better information.

03-27-2010, 11:53 AM

I've suffered insomnia all my life. If I get 10 hours sleep a week I'm doing well.

However, it's my understanding that those with anemia actually sleep more due to the lower levels of iron in thier blood. It reduces their energy etc. In fact it's one of the markers doctors use to test for anemia. Is the patient tired all the time, sleeping more than usual, lethargic?

Insomniacs don't tend to be physically tired. Not long term sufferers. Those going through a short bout (usually stress related) insomnia will be tired in the day. But chronic sufferers don't generally show that many physical symptoms.

03-27-2010, 12:22 PM

I'm fairly certain anaemia doesnt cause insomnia.

However, you can have the two conditions existing together.

I am an anaemic (I have regular iron infusions at my local hospital). My anaemia is caused by an autoimmune disorder that my specialists have not yet been able to isolate. (They are looking at lupus, as my ANA count is crazy-high).
I have a lot of vertigo, exhaustion and nauseousness.

I also have Grave's Disease, which is an autoimmune disorder that results in a hyperactive thyroid. Insomnia is one of the many symptoms of this. My resting heartrate can be 150bpm and I get fairly hyper and unable to relax enough to sleep. My body is stuck in a hyper state, so it cant fall asleep. some nights, I only get 2-3 hours.

I also have bipolar. Sooooooooooo... I can be suffering from the aneamia, exhausted, no iron, etc, then get a bit manic, and my racing thoughts, inspired creativity, etc, keep me up all night. It's a lethal combo, as I feel high and not necessarily tired -- as in I dont want to sleep, or feel like sleeping (I'm too buzzed and alert for that) BUT my body feels exhausted. my eyes kill from not having a rest and I sometimes feel fuzzy and not connected to my movements, a bit dream-like. But I still dont sleep -- sometimes for days.

Maybe you could find a medical condition that causes anaemia (coeliac, etc, theres heaps...) and also have a reason your MC is suffering from insomnia. Anxiety can cause insomnia in people for brief periods of time, so maybe that would work in with your plot?

03-27-2010, 06:57 PM
A lack of sleep in and of itself has nothing to do with causing anemia.

You get anemia from lack of production, loss, or lysis. Pick your poison. Each of those three categories can be broken down into many different diseases.

Tsu Dho Nimh
03-27-2010, 11:24 PM
Anemia can cause "feeling tired" ... there is no physiological mechanism for insomnia to cause anemia.


03-29-2010, 10:40 AM
Could it be possible for your character to have an allergy which causes her to develop anemia? It's usually food allergies which cause enough internal bleeding (but not much bleeding) that it can cause anemia, and some doctors have discovered a connection between allergies and insomnia.

Perhaps your character is eating the only food available, and she happens to be allergic to it; maybe it's been food she's had before, just not in the amounts she's eating it now. And now she's eating it every day.

Perhaps the doc could ask her about the insomnia and her eating habits and when the symptoms started, and then connect the anemia. Or however one needs to be connected to the other, and so forth.

03-29-2010, 10:52 AM
It can be correlated even if it doesn't cause it. People who are manic can get insomnia and also due to stress levels have trouble eating.