How fireworks affect you, from increased anxiety and memory problems


Fireworks have been lighting up the sky over major US cities like New York and Los Angeles night after night since the beginning of June. Insider spoke to Dr. Jessica Stern, a clinical psychologist at NYU Langone’s Steven A. Cohen Military Family Center, about the long-term effects of fireworks. Repetitive fireworks launched at night can cause disruptions in sleep, heightened anxiety, and difficulty concentrating in general. The stress can weaken your immune system.For those with PTSD, autism, and other conditions that cause sensitivity to sound, fireworks “may instantaneously activate the brain’s threat detector” and cause sensory overload. Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Fireworks are so beloved that, on July 4 alone, Americans spend an estimated $1 billion.But for people living in major cities like New York and Los Angeles in the past month, they’ve become less of a celebration and more of a public nuisance. Since the beginning of June, fireworks have been launching nearly every night from late afternoon until the early morning hours. Gothamist reported New York City’s 311 line received 6,385 firework complaints between June 1 to June 19, 236 times the amount seen during the same period of time last year. Vibrant explosions can cause serious health consequences. And while the damaging effects may not be so critically harmful as a one-off, a constant stream of them can be.

Insider spoke to Dr. Jessica Stern, a clinical psychologist at NYU Langone’s Steven A. Cohen Military Family Center, about the long-term effects of fireworks. Loss of sleep, irritability, and difficulty concentrating The fact that fireworks, for the most part, are set off at night makes them particularly problematic, when it comes to health.”Fireworks can disrupt the ability to fall or stay asleep, particularly if the fireworks cause a startle-response that lingers a bit longer,” Stern told Insider. “Similarly, when fireworks become paired in the brain with bedtime, this can cause people to be on high alert at sleep time, and may, in more particular occasions, cause someone to be avoidant of sleep.” The lack of sleep caused by fireworks can then impact other areas of your life. Your ability to focus, short term memory, and overall demeanor are all linked to how you sleep.

“For individuals who find that fireworks cause stress, anxiety, or irritability, this can impact mood; because stress can impact health, this may cause fatigue or tension in the mind and the body,” Stern told Insider. Stress and restlessness weaken the body’s immune system and its ability to fight off illnessThere is no shortage of research to show that poor sleep impacts your physical health and cognitive function.”For individuals who find that fireworks impact sleep, poorer quality of sleep can impact many facets of health, such as feeling fatigued, having body tension, [and] headaches,” Stern told Insider. A 2017 study on twins found a link between sleep deprivation and a weaker immune system, increasing the risks of imflammatory disorders, digestive issues, and general sickness. 

The impact is worse on people with PTSD, autism, and other conditions that cause sensitivity to soundPeople with past trauma related to sound like, people with Complex PTSD, people with autism, and people with other forms of sensitivity to noise are all impacted significantly worse by the explosions of fireworks. “For some of these individuals, including individuals who were exposed to other types of trauma, these sounds can be reminiscent of threat and may instantaneously activate the brain’s threat detector,” Stern said.”This may true also for people with anxiety, Autism, and other individuals with a sensitivity to sounds or are susceptible to sensory overload.”  Read More:

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