Sleep fragmentation is the state of being unable to stay asleep. It’s also known as sleep-maintenance insomnia. It is the opposite of sleep-onset insomnia, which describes having difficulty falling asleep. If you wake up one or more times per night, you are experiencing sleep fragmentation.
Sleep fragmentation reduces slow-wave sleep, which is necessary for waking up feeling refreshed the next day. The periods of sleep are also very short. However, the length of the awake periods varies from person to person. Some people may awaken for a few minutes, while others may stay awake for much longer.
If you experience sleep fragmentation, you are not alone. One-third of the general population experiences nocturnal awakenings. These awakenings are more common in women than men, increase with age, and often occur with other insomnia symptoms.
If you need help staying asleep, sleeping on a mattress designed to help you do so can help. Read on to learn all about sleep fragmentation and how SONU’s mattresses can help you get the best night of sleep yet.
What Causes Sleep Fragmentation?
Sleep fragmentation is often a symptom of a larger sleep disorder. People with sleep disorders such as snoring, sleep apnea, or narcolepsy often wake up throughout the night. Sleep disorders disrupt normal sleeping patterns, leading to someone suddenly waking up.
Lifestyle changes can also cause sleep fragmentation. For example, if you recently had a child and need to wake up several times per night to care for them, your sleep will be fragmented. If you have a cold or other seasonal illness that forces you to wake up repeatedly, this is also sleep fragmentation.
If you do not have a sleep disorder or didn’t make a lifestyle change and still experience sleep fragmentation, it’s time to visit a doctor to find out the underlying cause.
Is Sleep Fragmentation Dangerous?
Sleep fragmentation can worsen pre-existing sleep disorders, like sleep apnea. It can also cause short and long-term memory loss if it occurs regularly.
Other side effects of sleep fragmentation include slow response time, depressed mood, and excessive daytime sleepiness.
People who experience fragmented sleep often do not get the recommended hours of sleep for their age group. Not getting enough sleep can lead to impaired cognition, which puts sleepers at risk for incidents such as car accidents or workplace injuries.
Sleep fragmentation disrupts sleep cycles, which are important for mental, physical, and emotional well-being. It has been connected to neurodegenerative illnesses like Alzheimer’s.
Sleep deprivation has been linked to several chronic illnesses. These illnesses include:
- Mood disorders
- Heart disease
Not addressing your sleep fragmentation could lead to serious issues or even fatality. It’s best to seek help for it as soon as it becomes an issue.
How Is Sleep Fragmentation Treated?
To stop sleep fragmentation, sleepers can change elements of their lifestyles. Regular exercise, reducing caffeine intake, and being exposed to sunshine can help promote efficient sleep.
Practicing good sleep hygiene can also help reduce sleep fragmentation occurrences. Practices like going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time everyday train the body to understand when it should awaken and when it should be tired.
A doctor might suggest taking sleep supplements like melatonin or prescription sleep meds to help you stay asleep at night. They may also suggest light therapy, like being exposed to artificial bright light to stimulate circadian rhythm and train the body to recognize when it should be asleep and when it should be awake.
Sometimes, the best way to treat sleep fragmentation is to treat any underlying issues that could be causing it. For example, someone with sleep apnea is likely to wake up several times per night because of interrupted breathing. In this case, sleep apnea would need to be treated, which will in turn help reduce incidences of interrupted sleep.
How Do You Prevent Sleep Fragmentation?
Preventing sleep fragmentation takes measures that are commonly recommended for getting a full night’s sleep.
Avoiding naps can help prevent sleep fragmentation. Napping can reset the body’s internal clock, confusing it and making it believe you should wake up during times that you should be asleep.
Using noise and light-blocking curtains can help keep the bedroom dark and quiet, which helps keep you asleep.
Blue light devices, like phones and tablets, stimulate the brain to stay awake. Turning off the television, putting away your cell phone, and avoiding any devices with blue light reduces the number of distractions that keep you awake at night.
Ensuring that your bedroom is a place of rest is a good way to prevent sleep fragmentation. Making sure the bedroom is set to a cool temperature, playing white noise in the background, and acquiring a comfortable bed are ways to promote sleep.
The average adult needs at least seven hours of sleep per night. Many people are unable to get those recommended hours due to fragmented sleep.
Sleep fragmentation is often the result of another health issue. To find out what is causing you to experience sleep fragmentation, visit your family doctor or a sleep specialist.
Practicing good sleep hygiene, taking supplements, or making other lifestyle changes can help treat or prevent sleep fragmentation. Having a good mattress is also one way to help treat and prevent sleep fragmentation by helping you sleep comfortably.
A good night’s sleep is just around the corner. Visit SONU Sleep today, and discover the sleep system that will improve your sleeping habits and make you say “goodbye” to standard mattresses.
Fragmented Sleep | Sleep Fragmentation and How It Bothers Us | sleepdex.org
Nocturnal awakenings and comorbid disorders in the American general population | PubMed (nih.gov)
Phototherapy | Light Therapy | sleepdex.org
Interrupted Sleep - Causes & Helpful Tips | Sleep Foundation