As the mother of a 10-month-old, I'm constantly answering the question: Is your son sleeping through the night? And, much to my dismay, I have to repeatedly answer, "No." So I was interested, and considerably alarmed, to read about new findings showing that interrupted sleep could be as harmful to your physical health as a lack of sleep.
A Time article published today describes the study and the Tel Aviv University researchers' results:
Students slept a full eight-hours one night followed by a night of interrupted sleep in which they received four phone calls directing them to complete a brief computer exercise before returning to bed. The morning after both nights, the volunteers completed tasks to measure their attention span and emotional state — results proved that just one night of interrupted sleep had negative effects on mood, attention span and cognitive ability.
[Lead researcher Avi Sadeh, PhD,] believes that several nights of fragmented sleep could have long-term negative consequences equivalent to missing out on slumber altogether. “We know that these effects accumulate and therefore the functional price new parents — who awaken three to ten times a night for months on end — pay for common infant sleep disturbance is enormous,” he said in a statement.
In addition to parents with young children, the findings are applicable to people in certain age groups that experience fragmented sleep, as well those with jobs where frequent night wakings are common.
Previously: Stanford expert: Students shouldn’t sacrifice sleep, What are the consequences of sleep deprivation? and Study: Parents may not be as sleep-deprived as they think
Photo by Christina Spicuzza