Effects of insomnia can be extremely severe, especially if the case is prolonged over many years, and they can go far beyond the night in which the insomnia occurs. It is in the days following a sleepless night that the difficulties are at their worst, as the brain has to try to snatch the nearest equivalent it can find to sleep whenever it gets the chance. This can put the insomniac at an increased risk of accidents, and a flawed work performance, and can serious negative consequences on their career prospects.
The first and most obvious effect of insomnia is obviously tiredness, as the body is unable to get the sleep it needs for rejuvenation. The tiredness will be felt all the while you are lying there attempting to sleep, and there are few ways to deal effectively with the situation. You can use relaxation and deep breathing exercises, and these have the benefit that they actually increase your chances of falling asleep. Alternatives such as listening to relaxing music are useful, as long as you can set them up in the right way. Music is best listened to through small pillow speakers, so it will not matter if you fall asleep with it still playing.
The effects of losing sleep in the night can be countered, and people quickly discover their own way of making use of the night hours. It is during the day that the worst effects of lost sleep are experienced. The brain has an absolute need for rest, and if it cannot obtain it through the usual channel of sleep, it has to resort to other methods. In some cases, you will experience short periods of almost black out, were the had actually nods sharply downwards before you wake up again. This is the brain shutting down briefly to gain the rest it needs.
The worst effects of insomnia are experienced after a prolonged period of sleep loss, and are really a cumulative effect of the brain consistently not getting enough sleep. They can affect your work considerably, and even dangerously depending on what it is you do. If you are operating machinery for a living, or working at heights, the cumulative effects of sleep loss could even be fatal. This is why the use of drug in the short term has to be tolerated, although this can also be dangerous as there are cases where the drugs are still having an effect the next day.
There is no substitute for sleep, but getting rest of any kind does help the body to recover to a certain extent. If you have lost a considerable amount of sleep, it is always worthwhile trying to go to bed at an early hour so that you spend more time in the relaxed state. If you are able to drop off to sleep, so much the better, but at least you will be resting. If you can listen to relaxing audio on a personal audio player, through pillow speakers so there is no danger of falling asleep with headphone wires, that may help.
If these measures do not alleviate the effects of insomnia, there is more yet tart you can try. Make sure that your room is perfectly dark, by blacking out the windows. Reduce noise levels to the absolute minimum, and sleep with foam earplugs. Avoid alcohol, tobacco and especially caffeine completely if you can. Make sure that you eat light meals more often rather than heavy ones less often, and if you have to eat anything heavy make sure it is in not within two or three hours of going to bed. These changes can get you more rest, and can help alleviate the effects of insomnia.