Sleep, Interrupted

By Alyse Borkan  |  Jul 10, 2014
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We now have hard evidence for what every human being in the world already knew: a night of interrupted sleep is bad for you.

A team of researchers at Tel Aviv University noticed that most people’s sleep is “often disrupted by external sources” like a crying baby or a three a.m. email, and that those disruptions “had never been systematically assessed.”

So in a new study, instead of just asking anyone walking down the street if they felt worse after a night spent tossing and turning, the team at T.A.U. methodically tested the effects.

Sixty-one participants (forty female) slept a full eight hours in one night. Throughout the next night, they received four phone calls directing them to complete an online continuous performance test and remain awake for ten to fifteen minutes.

In the morning after both nights, participants measured their moods and attention spans using POMS — Profile of Mood States, a list of adjectives rated referring to the participant’s current mood on a six-point Likert scale ranging from 0 to 5.

The results? Waking up four times for an extended period of time is detrimental to your mood and cognitive abilities. “Following a night of sleep restriction or prolonged awakenings,” the study says, “participants reported significantly higher depression, fatigue and confusion levels and reduced vigor.”

So if you have to pop an Ambien to sleep through the night, do it. Science says you’ll be happier for it.

— Josh Segal

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