The benefits you get from a good night’s sleep is not just measured by its quantity. Quality also counts. One negative factor in the quality of your sleep is fragmented sleep – when you wake several times during the night. A study at Tel Aviv University is pointed to the fact that fragmented sleep may be as harmful as lack of sleep. In the study, participants slept for one full eight-hour night of sleep. The next night they were awakened by four phone calls and asked to complete a brief computer exercise before returning to bed, awakening them for about 10 to 15 minutes. They were asked to do the same tasks each day to test. The results were that interrupted sleep had
1. A negative effect on their mood.
2. Lessened their attention span
3. Impaired their cognitive ability
Those doing the study felt that several nights of fragmented sleep could have long-term negative consequences that would be equivalent to missing out on sleep altogether. They looked at the many people who might be susceptible to fragmented sleep. These included:
1. Sleep apnea or heavy snorers: Sleep apnea can be treated several ways according to the Mayo Clinic. The most common is CPAP or continuous positive airway pressure. Other airway treatments and oral appliances are also available. Surgery may be called for in some cases if other means do not work. Surgery may also be suggested for those with certain jaw structure problems.
2. Restless leg syndrome: The Mayo Clinic says this syndrome may be treated with certain drugs, muscle relaxants or, even, sleep medications.
3. Parents of newborns: Time may be the cure but until then, parents may switch off night duty so neither has continuously fragmented sleep.
4. Medications: Some mood disorder medications may cause interrupted sleep. If there is a constant problem with interrupted sleep, talk to your doctor for suggestions for better sleep.
There are other groups of people who experience interrupted sleep and those include doctors or other professions who receive nighttime phone calls, smokers, moderate to heavy drinkers, those with recent weight gain, post-menopausal women and men with low testosterones. The important message is that if you are experiencing fragmented sleep, you should discuss it with your doctor. If it is a habit you can change – like not drinking caffeine beverages that cause frequent urination – change that habit. Consider a sleep clinic that can give you a good evaluation of your sleeping habits. If the problem is an uncomfortable mattress or aches and pains from the way you sleep on your mattress, consider latex model – they’re known for their full-body support.