Feel like you’ve woken up on the wrong side of the bed this morning? It could be that your slumber was plagued with constant interruptions.
New research from John Hopkins School of Medicine in the US has found that being woken up throughout the night does more damage to a positive mood than a shorter night’s sleep.
The study published in the journal Sleep examined 62 health subjects who underwent three experimental conditions in an inpatient clinical research suite. They experienced one of the following situations: three consecutive nights of forced awakenings, three consecutive nights of delayed bedtimes or three nights of uninterrupted sleep.
Gallery: Sleep tight every night
Research found that those who were subjected to eight forced awakenings per night, and those with delayed bed times, experienced the same low positive mood, and high negative moods after the first night. Participants assessed their mood by rating how strongly they felt with a variety of positive and negative emotions, including cheerfulness and anger.
After the second night, those who had a second night of interrupted sleep had a 31 per cent reduction in a positive mood, and the delayed bedtime group had a decline of 12 per cent.
“When your sleep is disrupted throughout the night, you don’t have the opportunity to progress through the sleep stages to get the amount of slow-wave sleep that is key to the feeling of restoration,” said lead study author Patrick Finan. Even though the study was conducted on healthy subjects, Finan said the results are likely to apply to insomnia sufferers.
It’s like the results have an implication for how stress and depression can affect sleep and mood. “It appears that losing slow wave sleep impairs the ability to recover or stabilise positive emotions in response to stressors,” Finan said. “So we should be paying attention to not just the quantity or quality of sleep…but the combination of the two.”
Interrupted sleep is inevitable for some people – like new parents or shift workers, for example – there are steps you can take to try and improve the quality of your sleep.
Set yourself a reminder to wind down 20 minutes before bed time – that means turning off all devices and preparing yourself for bed – and ensure your room is prepped for a good night’s sleep. Invest in a good mattress, make sure it’s a good temperature and free from distracting light.