Loneliness: 5 things you may not know

BERLIN, GERMANY - DECEMBER 15: Three persons with umbrella walk along the river Spree on December 15, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Florian Gaertner/Photothek via Getty Images)

Story highlights

  • For some, chronic loneliness is a way of life
  • Loneliness can hurt your ability to sleep well
  • It may also contribute to dementia and heart problems, studies suggest

Dhani Jones is a former professional American football player, entrepreneur and author of "The Sportsman: Unexpected Lessons From an Around-the-World Sports Odyssey." He's shared his best advice with CNN for a new Digital Studios series called "Be a Champion." This article was originally published in 2014.

(CNN)Nearly everyone feels lonely at some point. The good news is, for many of us, it's a temporary condition, perhaps one caused by a life change: moving to a new location, for instance, or starting a new job.

But for other people, loneliness is a way of life, one that may stem not from the number of people around them but from a lack of connection with others. And, research has showed, chronic loneliness can have adverse consequences for your health.
    Scientists are still examining the link between mental and physical health and how loneliness affects our bodies. But you may not know about some of their findings over the years.

    It may affect your brain in a way similar to physical pain

    As CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta writes in a column for O Magazine regarding a 2003 study:
    "A remarkable study led by Naomi Eisenberger, an associate professor of social psychology at UCLA, found that being excluded -- which can push you to the social perimeter and, as a result, cause feelings of loneliness -- triggered activity in some of the same regions of the brain that register physical pain.