Fragmented or Interrupted Sleep As Bad As No Sleep At All!

Do you wake up often at night with insomnia or snore heavily and ignore your sleep apnea? New research shows that fragmented or interrupted sleep is just as potentially fatal as getting no sleep at all!

The Frightening Dangers of Lost Sleep

Missing even one night of sleep is dangerous, producing schizophrenia-like symptoms. Missing many nights of sleep, cumulatively, is dangerous as well, increasing your rate of brain shrinkage and risk for dementia or Alzheimer's. With one-third of Americans sleep-deprived and 90% of sleep disorder sufferers undiagnosed or untreated, insufficient sleep is an epidemic

But what about people who regularly report sleeping a normal 6-8 hours per night? New research from Tel Aviv University School of Psychological Sciences finds that if you suffer from broken or fragmented sleep, the effect on your health is as negative as if you didn't sleep at all. Lead researcher Professor Dr. Avi Sedah found that quantity of sleep does not protect a patient from poor quality of sleep.

"The sleep of many parents is often disrupted by external sources such as a crying baby demanding care during the night. Doctors on call, who may receive several phone calls a night, also experience disruptions," researcher Avi Sadeh said in a statement. "These night wakings could be relatively short -- only five to ten minutes -- but they disrupt the natural sleep rhythm. The impact of such night wakings on an individual's daytime alertness, mood, and cognitive abilities had never been studied. Our study is the first to demonstrate seriously deleterious cognitive and emotional effects."

Sleep Research Demonstrates Sleep Loss Leads to Mental Disorder Symptoms

In the study, researchers tested a group of patients who were either limited to four hours of uninterrupted sleep or were interrupted during a normal eight hour sleep four separate times, being briefly awakened for ten to fifteen minutes. The results were compared against a normal, uninterrupted full night's sleep for each participant. Dr. Sedah and his team found few significant differences between the four hour limited sleep and the full eight hour sleep with interruptions.

Related: Poor Sleep Worsens Weight Gain and Muscle Loss

Effects of interrupted, broken sleep included aggression, depression, cognitive decline, impairment, and fatigue. However, the broken sleep symptoms in both groups was significantly different when those same patients received a full night of uninterrupted sleep, suggesting that broken or fragmented sleep was similar in effect to reduced sleep altogether.

"Sleep research has focused in the last 50 years on sleep deprivation, and practically ignored the impact of night-wakings, which is a pervasive phenomenon for people from many walks of life. I hope that our study will bring this to the attention of scientists and clinicians, who should recognize the price paid by individuals who have to endure frequent night-wakings."

The study's findings are applicable to many groups of people:

  • Sleep Apnea or heavy snorers
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Parents of Newborns
  • Patients with insomnia and sleep hygiene deficiencies
  • Patients taking medications for mood disorders like depression, anxiety, or ADHD
  • Moderate to heavy drinkers
  • Smokers
  • Patients with recent weight gain or who are experiencing difficulty losing weight
  • Post-menopausal women
  • Men with low testosterone, reduced libido, sexual dysfunction, or impotence

How to Identify, Fix, and Treat Sleep Loss for Mental Health and Quality of Life

Determining if your sleep is fragmented or broken by interruption requires attended polysomnography, or an in-lab sleep study. An in-lab sleep study evaluates the sleep architecture and quantifies your restorative sleep indices, allowing a sleep medicine specialist to identify sleep fragmentation and potential causes (like sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome). Given the ease and comfort of credentialed, accredited sleep testing at Austin sleep centers and sleep labs Austin like SleepSomatics, you can get your in-lab sleep study today.

Concerned you aren't getting enough sleep? If you or someone you care about snores or is tired and fatigued during the day, sleep-disordered breathing (and sleep apnea) may be a serious risk. Get your sleep tested today by SleepSomatics, a professionally credentialed and accredited sleep test center located in Austin since 1999. Call 512.323.9253.

For more information, read this article's sources:

Daily Mail Online: A broken night's sleep is as bad as NONE - and can lead to feelings of anger and guilt

New York Daily News: Interrupted sleep just as bad as sleep deprivation: study

Time Magazine: Study: Interrupted Sleep May Be as Harmful as No Sleep at All

This blog's thumbnail image credit goes to Mod Vive.


SleepSomatics Diagnostic Center is a credentialed and accredited sleep center serving Austin and Central Texas since 1999. We provide sleep diagnostic and therapy services including In-Lab Sleep Study, Take-Home Sleep Test, and Sleep Therapy. We gladly accept most insurances and provide you with a written quote of any costs. Questions? Get answers. Let's talk. Call us. We're ready when you are. Call SleepSomatics at (512) 323-9253.