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Interrupted sleep or short sleep - which is worse?

by , 01 December 2017
Interrupted sleep or short sleep - which is worse?
Are you an unhealthy sleeper? Well, you're not alone. More of us than you think are insomniacs, wake up constantly throughout the night and are simply too captivated by our smartphones and tablets to put them down to go to bed.

The question is, what's the worst kind of sleep for your health - is it the kind where you stick to the same bedtime every night but wake up every few hours, or the kind where you hit the sack late and only get a few hours of shut-eye? Keep reading to find out!

Researchers set out to find out which is worse – interrupted sleep or short sleep

According to a study published in the journal Sleep, interrupted sleep is worse than short sleep. To arrive at this conclusion, lead author Patrick Finan, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine in the United States, and his colleagues conducted one of the first studies comparing these two types of sleep.
The team looked at 62 healthy men and women who were good sleepers. The participants spent three days and nights in a sleep lab and answered questions about their mood every night before going to sleep. While the participants were asleep, the researchers measured their sleep stages to document when and how much of each stage sleep – from light sleep to deep slumber – each participant got every night.


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They tied interrupted sleep to a striking drop in positive mood

The team randomly assigned one-third of the participants to be woken up several times a night. Another third weren’t allowed to go to sleep until later but weren’t woken up, and the final third was allowed to sleep uninterrupted throughout the night. When the team compared the three groups’ mood ratings, they found that the interrupted and short sleepers both showed drops in positive moods after the first night.
However, on the next nights, they found that the interrupted sleepers continued to report declining positive feelings while the short sleepers didn’t. Finan concluded that having disrupted sleep may therefore have a stronger effect on dampening a positive mood than it does on increasing negative feelings.
“We saw a drop in slow wave sleep so large and sudden, and it was associated with a striking drop in positive mood that was significantly different than in the other group,” Finan said.

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