Disrupted Sleep Just as Bad as Little Sleep

Spend a lot of time getting interrupted during sleep? Like if you’re a new parent, or need to leave your work phone on? Well, that’s just as bad as getting four hours of sleep a night. Which is pretty bad.

This information comes to us courtesy of a study published in Sleep Medicine. Researchers had sixty-one participants sleep for them, with data collected by an activity monitor. First, they slept a normal night for some baseline data. Then, they slept a night where they were awakened every ninety minutes by a phone call, for which they had to stay awake for fifteen minutes. After each night, subjects had to fill out a questionnaire about their mood and complete a computer test that measured alertness and attention. After a night of broken sleep, subjects were found to be, on average, 24% more confused, 29% more depressed, and 43% more fatigued.

In another experiment, subjects were only allowed four hours of sleep. This had similar results, suggesting that a night of broken sleep is as bad as a night of only four hours sleep.

According to lead author Avi Sadeh, “Our study shows the impact of only one disrupted night, but we know that these effects accumulate and therefore the functional price new parents—who awaken three to 10 times a night for months on end—pay for common infant sleep disturbance is enormous.”

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