A study led by Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers proposes that disturbed sleep – waking up many times during the night – might be more harmful for an individual’s positive mood as compared to getting lesser sleep without any interruptions and it might keep you feel sleepy all the time.

Planning The Intervention

Researcher analyzed 62 healthy men and women who were randomly assigned to three experimental conditions with regard to sleep – three consecutive nights of forced awakenings, delayed bedtimes or uninterrupted sleep.

Participants subjected to eight forced awakenings, along with those subjected to delayed bedtimes demonstrated equally low positive moods after the first night, which was measured using a standard mood assessment questionnaire administered before bedtime. The latter asked the participants to rate their positive and negative emotions, such as cheerfulness and anger.

Disturbed Or Sleepy All The Time

However, significant differences began to emerge after the second night. The group that was forcefully awakened exhibited a reduction of 31 percent in positive mood, compared to the 12 percent reduction seen in the group with the delayed bedtime. Moreover, no significant differences were observed in terms of negative mood, which shows that sleep fragmentation is potentially harmful to positive emotions.

“When your sleep is disrupted, you don’t progress through the stages of sleep to get adequate amounts of slow-wave sleep that is essential for restoration”, explained lead author Patrick Finan, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Results May Also Be Applicable To Those Who Have Insomnia

Frequent awakening is a very common symptom for sufferers of insomnia. “Many individuals with insomnia acquire sleep in fits and starts, and they don’t experience restorative sleep”, Finan explained.

To investigate the association between depression and insomnia, Finan and his team performed a test called polysomnography which involves monitoring certain body and brain functions as subjects sleep. Results showed that the forced awakening group received lesser periods of deep, slow-wave sleep. This factor was significantly associated with a decline in positive mood.

Moreover, interrupted sleep not only reduces energy levels, it also decreases feelings of sympathy and friendliness. “You can imagine the difficulty people with chronic sleep disorders have after continuously being deprived of deep sleep”, Finan said. Further studies are needed to further understand the sleep stages in insomnia, and the role of a night of recovering sleep. The findings are reported in the journal Sleep.