What is fragmented sleep and why does it matter?

Published Dec 14, 2016 | Updated Apr 23, 2020

Fragmented sleep is when you experience frequent awakenings during your normal wake-sleep cycle. These may be brief disruptions or longer periods of wakefulness that are accompanied by difficulty falling back to sleep.

People that have fragmented sleep often report that their sleep does not feel refreshing and they wake up still feeling tired.

Other common symptoms of fragmented sleep include morning headaches, daytime sleepiness, memory lapses, and difficulty concentrating.

An increasing number of scientific studies are showing that there is a great impact on physical and emotional health when sleep quantity or quality is poor.

If you aren’t getting enough sleep, it impacts more than just how tired you feel. An increasing number of scientific studies are showing that there is a great impact on physical and emotional health when sleep quantity or quality is poor.

Blood pressure naturally varies during the sleep cycle. Interrupted sleep can prevent such normal pressure changes from occurring, and lead to increased blood pressure and cardiovascular problems.

The body is less able to use insulin after fragmented sleep, which can lead to diabetes over time.

Fragmented sleep can lead to increased cortisol, often regarded as a stress hormone.

Increased cortisol has been shown to increase appetite and decrease the ability to burn calories. The response to stress is also amplified when sleep has been reduced or interrupted. Fragmented sleep can be short term with an obvious cause- such as a new parent waking to care for an infant, or temporary trouble sleeping due to illness. More subtle awakenings can be caused by sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, periodic limb movements, or snoring. There are also lifestyle triggers that cause poor sleep, such as caffeine and alcohol consumption, exercise too close to bedtime, and having an irregular sleep schedule.

If you experience sleep fragmentation that is ongoing or has less obvious reasons EverSleep in-home tracking and advanced coaching system can help you to determine the cause of your sleep interruptions so that you can be on your way back to being well rested.

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originally published: Dec 14, 2016

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