What’s Worse: Too Little Sleep or Restless Sleep?

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

According to NPR, around 60 million Americans suffer from insomnia, and from time to time, we all get a terrible night’s sleep. If you are getting to bed too late or feel like you are spending the night tossing and turning, struggling to get comfortable, chances are you’re not going to feel your best the next day.

Lack of sleep can seriously mess with your emotions, and nothing is worse than feeling like you never even fell asleep at night because you were so unsettled. But what is actually worse for your health? According to a recent study conducted by researchers at John Hopkins University, getting the recommended seven to eight hours of restless sleep is pretty pointless if you find yourself tossing and turning throughout the whole night. If fact, the study shows that getting a shorter amount of sleep is better than getting restless sleep.

So how can eight hours of interrupted sleep be worse than a few hours sleeping straight through? “People who were forced awake lost more slow wave sleep,” lead researcher Patrick Finan, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, says in the study.

In order to compile these results, the researchers at Hopkins conducted a three-day experiment where two groups of participants were observed while asleep. While one group slept eight hours and was woken up every hour, the other group stayed up later and slept about five hours but was not woken up. The study reveals that after just two days, everyone was pretty grumpy. However, the group that was woken up repeatedly reported a lot more negative emotions and significantly fewer positive ones than the group that got less sleep.

In other words, waking up throughout the night is not only frustrating, but also more detrimental to your overall mood. Less sleep, however, may promote individuals to take advantage of the little sleep they have and wake up less times throughout the night.

For those who can’t seem to turn their mind off when they get into bed, Finan recommends a good regimen surrounding “sleep hygiene” — meaning turn off your computer, phone, and television before you get into bed, and avoid alcohol consumption close to bedtime.

Many people grow accustom to checking their phone and email before bed, which will create a false sense of light and cause the internal body clock to become messed up. A good trick to get your body clock back and functioning properly is to get into a routine, and stick to it. Even on the weekends, you should not waver much from your bedtime routine. This will allow your body to recognize when it is time for bed, and allow you to sleep more soundly.

The feeling of restlessness can be hard to shake, and can cause your entire next day to be thrown off. Find a routine, and stick to it to allow your body to rest properly. You, and your coworkers, will appreciate it.

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