Interrupted sleep worse than not getting enough sleep, study claims

A group who were subject to 'forced awakenings' displayed 'low positive' moods

Olivia Blair
Saturday 31 October 2015 17:45
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Being interrupted during sleep is likely to affect your mood more than not getting enough sleep, a study suggests.

Researchers at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, USA studied 62 men and women and split them into three experimental conditions.

One group were subject to “forced awakenings” during sleep, others went to bed late and the last group went to sleep uninterrupted.

The study analysed the participants over three days and published their research in the journal Sleep.

The group who were regularly woken displayed a “low positive mood” after the first night, however after the second had a reduction of 31 per cent in positive mood.

This is compared to those who went to bed later, who reported a 12 per cent drop in positive mood after on the second night.

The group also had shorter periods of deep, slow-wave sleep which researchers found to have a significant association with the reduction in positive mood. In particular, interrupted sleep affected energy levels and “feelings of sympathy and friendliness”.

Patrick Finan, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at the university said: “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.”

Mr Finan said this is important as interrupted sleep is something often experienced by new parents and on-call workers. It is also a common symptom of people with insomnia.

The findings follow a recent call by a leading academic advocating a change in working hours after calling the UK a "sleep-deprived society”.

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