Broken Sleep Is Worse Than No Sleep

Interrupted sleep is like being shot in the face - science says so!

3 min read

Sleep deprivation is no joke. Ask any insomniac or a new parent. Even though my son has turned two, there are times, I feel like I’m going mental from lack of sleep.

But what is the worst kind of sleep? The one where you hit the sack pretty late and only get a few hours of shut-eye or the one where you toss and turn through the night?

Science has finally given its verdict.

Interrupted Sleep = Cranky Mood

Interrupted sleep is like being shot in the face - science says so!
Can’t sleep at night, can’t get up in the morning? Sleep deprivation makes most people grumpy.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

The Study:

Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in USA conducted one of the first studies comparing the two types of sleep; interrupted sleep and shorter but a peaceful nap, in a group of 62 healthy men and women who were good sleepers.

The volunteers spent three days and nights in a sleep lab. One group was subject to “forced awakenings” during sleep and just before dozing off was questioned about their mood. The second group went to bed late and the last group got interrupted sleep.

While they slept, the researchers measured their sleep stages so they could document when and how much of each stage of sleep, from light to deeper slumber, each volunteer got every night.

The Results:

When scientists compared the mood ratings of all the groups, they found that the interrupted and short sleepers both were in a grumpy state after the first night. On the following nights though, broken sleepers continued being cranky but short sleepers were 30% more upbeat and relaxed.

Researchers noted that broken sleep left the volunteers low on energy and particularly lousy during the day. So having disrupted sleep, may have a significant effect on dampening your mood and leaving you lethargic.

The study has been published in November 2015’s edition of medical journal Sleep.

Not Getting Enough Sleep Can Make You Sick!

Interrupted sleep is like being shot in the face - science says so!
Good zzz’s involves duration, timing and quality (Photo: iStock)

Another study published in the same journal Sleep, found that people who slept for six hours were four times more likely to become sick than people who slept for at least seven hours.

Seriously? My frequent cold might just be fixable. As someone who has a terrible immune system, this news is magic to my ears.

So what are the other weird things sleep deprivation can do to your body?

Your brain doesn’t work well, your memory gets affected: A week of lousy sleep will not turn you into the dude from Memento, but chronic sleep deprivation can make your brain weak. You can experience impaired learning, poor judgement and even emotional problems.

Your sperm count drops: Relax! You won’t suddenly develop a low sperm count or low libido, but consistent periods of broken sleep will hamper the strength and count of your swimmers.

Your appetite shoots up: The hormones, leptin and grehlin, regulate your appetite and the feeling of fullness in your body. Now with lack of sleep, the ratio of these hormones goes topsy-turvy. As a result, your body loses its ability to tell when you are full as well.

Your metabolism goes bonkers: Yes, when you’re underslept, your body stops metabolising food as efficiently as it can.

And if you’re a new parent, remember there’s an end in sight: Everyone who has a small baby has broken sleep.“Sleep when the baby sleeps”, is a cliche which doesn’t work for most new mums, but don’t lose your mind and look ahead. Like my mom reminds me that millions of parents made it through the fog and I will too. Amen.

Also Read: Working Dead? 5 Ways To Sneak a Nap at Work

(Have you subscribed to FIT’s newsletter yet? Click here and get health updates directly in your inbox.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
Read More