Anxiety-induced insomnia is something that most individuals have dealt with at some point in their lives. It doesn’t matter if you’re tossing and turning or just can’t get to sleep; you may not feel as rested the next day.
However, because it’s so common, restless sleep warrants further investigation. In the sections that follow, we’ll delve deeper into the topic of restless sleep to see what it is, what causes it, and what we can do about it.
What Is Restless Sleep?
Restless sleep does not have a specific meaning. In terms of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) definition, it is not a recognized sleep disorder. However, there is a broad idea of what a restless sleep looks or feels like.
What Does Restless Sleep Look or Feel Like?
In the end, how you experience restless sleep relies on whether or not you’re the one trying to sleep or are simply watching someone else do it.
Experiencing Restless Sleep
If you’re having trouble falling asleep, you may be experiencing one or more of the following problems:
- Throwing and twisting in an attempt to find a place to rest and feel at ease
- Half-asleep, or the sensation that you’re not getting a good night’s rest.
- You can’t sleep because your thoughts are running through your head.
- Frustration over being unable to get a good night’s sleep
- After waking up unexpectedly, being unable to immediately return to sleep.
Restless sleep is generally characterized by a lack of energy, sluggishness, or mental lapses the following day. If you have frequent sleep disturbances, driving or operating heavy machinery can be quite hazardous if you are drowsy.
Observing Restless Sleep
If you observe these symptoms in someone else, you may mistake them for restless sleep.
- Frequent snoring or waking up in the middle of the night.
- snoring that sounds like someone is gasping or choking
- Significant limb movement, getting out of bed, or even sleepwalking are all signs of restlessness.
- yelling or talking loudly while you’re still asleep
- clenching and gnashing of teeth (sleep-related bruxism)
It is possible for a person to be completely unconscious of these indicators of restlessness, such as talking or moving during sleep, and not recall it when they wake up. Thus, they may not have had the impression that their sleep had been disturbed.
How Is Restless Sleep Different From Insomnia?
Insomnia, on the other hand, is a formally defined sleep condition that can only be diagnosed by a medical practitioner. Despite the fact that the term “insomnia” is sometimes used in a colloquial sense to describe a wide range of sleep disorders, it has a specific meaning in the field of sleep medicine.
Many people who suffer from insomnia experience restless sleep, but not everyone who experiences restless sleep, especially if it occurs very sporadically, has insomnia.
What Are the Causes of Restless Sleep?
It is impossible to pinpoint a single cause of a person’s inability to sleep. Sleep disorders and bad sleep habits, as well as anything that affect your emotional and physical health, might disrupt your sleep.
Even if a person is not suffering from a formal anxiety condition, stress and worry can keep their thoughts racing and prevent them from getting a good night’s sleep. Depression, sadness, and grief all have the potential to disrupt a person’s ability to sleep.
If you’ve had a cup of coffee or a cigarette, your brain and body may be wired, making it difficult to go asleep. Even though they make you sleepy, alcohol and sedatives can disturb your sleep patterns and keep you up all night, even if you fall asleep quickly.
Sleeping peacefully can be scuppered by a variety of health issues. Among the ailments that can disrupt sleep include those that cause frequent urination, lung disease, and heart disease. Inability to get a good night’s sleep is frequently linked to pain and discomfort in bed.
As a result of an unsuitable sleep environment, you may find it difficult to fall asleep. Sleeping on the right mattress is an important part of a healthy night’s rest. A bad mattress, too much noise or light, or too much heat or cold might make it difficult to go asleep or stay asleep.
Insufficient or poor-quality sleep can often be traced back to poor sleep hygiene habits. Restless sleep can be caused by habits and routines such as using electronic devices in bed, eating too late at night, and sleeping in a different room each night.
A misaligned circadian rhythm, which typically occurs when working the night shift or suffering from jet lag after traveling across numerous time zones, can also produce restless or disturbed sleep.
An underlying sleep condition such as insomnia, Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), or sleep-related respiratory disorders like Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) might be linked to restless sleep in some cases (OSA). RLS is characterized by a strong impulse to move one’s limbs, while OSA is characterized by frequent breathing interruptions that prevent a person from getting a good night’s rest.
These concerns may be to blame for someone else’s restless sleep, but other conditions like parasomnias may also be to blame. The term “parasomnias” refers to a range of sleep-related abnormalities, such as talking to oneself, sleepwalking, and acting out dreams.
Why Does Sleep Hygiene Matter So Much?
You don’t have to adhere to a strict evening ritual to maintain good sleeping patterns. Everything from the timing of light exposure and coffee and alcohol use to your workout habits and sleeping environment is a part of good sleep hygiene. Circadian rhythms play an important role in good sleep hygiene.
As if you had an internal biological clock, your circadian rhythm controls when you should be sleeping and waking, as well as when your energy levels should be at their greatest and lowest. Keeping your circadian rhythm in mind while planning your day is essential to receiving the amount of sleep you need and keeping your sleep debt low.
For every 14 days, you owe your body a same amount of sleep as you did the previous 14 days. On any given day, this is the number that best forecasts your mood and performance. When your sleep deficit is less than five hours, you can still feel and perform at your best. It’s easy to keep track of how much sleep you’ve missed by using the RISE app, which does this for you automatically.)
While it may take some time for the harmful effects of sleep debt to manifest, restless sleep or other sleep disruptions can lead to a rapid buildup of debt. Your ability to focus and react quickly diminishes as a result of sleep deprivation in the short term. Obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, dementia, infertility issues, cancer, and other chronic diseases are all made more likely by sleep debt over time.
Restless sleep is clearly more than just an inconvenience, so let’s look at some common sleep hygiene concerns and other factors that could be stopping you from receiving the restorative sleep your body requires. sleep debt is clearly more than just an irritation.
How Is Restless Sleep Different By Age Group?
Restless sleep can appear in a variety of ways depending on the person’s age. Babies, young children, teenagers, adults, and the elderly all have varied sleep patterns and needs, so it’s no wonder that the causes of disturbed sleep can vary among these demographics.
Restless Sleep in Infants
Even though babies sleep for up to 18 hours a day, they rarely sleep for more than two or three hours at a time. Despite what some parents may think, this is perfectly normal and expected.
Around the age of six months, babies begin to sleep in a cycle that alternates between night and day. However, a study of 12-month-olds found that roughly 28% slept less than six hours in a run and 43% slept less than eight hours in a straight. As a result, parents should be aware that their infant’s inability to sleep through the night, which may appear to be restless sleep, is not uncommon and has not been found to influence the child’s mental or physical growth.
Around nine months, some babies begin to have more restless sleep. Sleep deprivation, separation anxiety, overstimulation, and/or resting too early before night are all possible causes of this.
Parents who want their newborns and children to sleep peacefully should develop good sleep habits of their own. Reinforcing excellent sleep habits in babies can help them get a decent night’s rest as they grow up. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) can also be prevented if parents adopt proper safety procedures (SIDS).
Restless sleep in babies may be caused by an underlying health issue, even if it is rare. A breathing issue known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can afflict infants, but it is more common in preterm and low-birth-weight infants or those with other medical conditions. In the event of abnormal breathing or any other concerns regarding a baby’s sleep, it’s best to see a doctor.
Restless Sleep in Toddlers
Toddlers’ inability to self-soothe, calm down, and fall asleep might manifest as restless sleep. Depending on when they wake up during the night, they may experience this.
Restless sleep in toddlers typically begins around the age of 18 months and may be caused by separation anxiety, excessive stimulation, poor sleep habits or a rise in the frequency of nightmares.
Consistent behaviors that foster a stable nighttime routine, a fixed schedule, and self-soothing in order to fall asleep can help address this sleep disturbance.
Restless Sleep in Children
Restless sleep in young children is generally linked to poor sleep hygiene, although other variables may also play a role in the development of the problem.
Parasomnias, or aberrant sleep activities, are more common in children. A child may be half aware and distressed but unable to communicate or respond during a sleep arousal or sleep terror, which might involve sleep talking and confusional arousals. The sleepwalking and severe nightmares that afflict up to 29% of children between the ages of 2 and 13 are also considered parasomnias.
While parasomnias can be disturbing for parents, most are not hazardous, and it’s normally better to gently comfort a child back to sleep without waking them.. The events are rarely remembered by children, and they occur only infrequently before they fade away on their own. A kid may require treatment if parasomnias begin to interfere with sleep, are frequent, or put the child at danger of injury (such as when they experience sleepwalking episodes).
A doctor should be seen when a kid exhibits symptoms such as excessive drowsiness, irritability, or impaired thinking and concentration during the day. A child’s disturbed sleep and loud snoring may indicate a condition known as pediatric obstructive sleep apnea. Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) can also be linked to diseases such as ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which can cause daytime impairments from restless sleep (ASD).
Restless Sleep in Teens
Teens’ sleep schedules naturally alter as they get older, which might cause them to have trouble falling asleep at night. It is normal for teens to be restless when trying to get to bed early because their bodies are shifting to a later, “night owl,” sleep cycle.
Stress and worry related to school or social life, as well as bad sleep habits, such as the use of mobile phones and other electronic devices in bed, can exacerbate sleep difficulties resulting from this changing biology..
It is possible for youth to develop sleep disorders such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), and ADHD.
There are numerous reasons why sleep deprivation in adolescents is a problem. Decision-making and the chance of engaging in high-risk behaviors might be impacted, as can important mental and physical development. For this reason, a doctor should be consulted if a teen’s sleep is disrupted for an extended period of time.
Restless Sleep in Adults
Insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, and other sleep disorders affect a considerable number of adults, and in this age range, a greater percentage of instances may be linked to these conditions.
Adults are more likely to suffer from many health issues that impair their sleep. Adults who are stressed, anxious, or depressed may have difficulty sleeping. Inadequate sleep hygiene can exacerbate the problem of a lack of time for sleep due to work, family, and social commitments.
A health professional should be consulted by people who commonly have sleep disturbances, such as restlessness, snoring, or breathing difficulties, as well as daily consequences such as exhaustion, drowsiness, and problems thinking clearly.
Restless Sleep in Seniors
Many of the same causes that cause insomnia in adults are also present in the elderly, who confront additional difficulties. Because they spend more time in the lightest stages of sleep, the elderly are more vulnerable to interruptions and their sleep is perceived as less restorative as a result.
Many seniors have a shift in their circadian rhythm that causes them to wake up earlier in the morning. Those in managed care facilities, in particular, may experience this as a result of the more restricted access to natural light.
There are a variety of physical and mental health conditions common among the elderly, as well as the use of numerous prescription medications, all of which can result in sleep disturbances.
Sleeping disorders are common in older persons because of the confluence of these issues, but actions to address the underlying diseases and improve sleep hygiene can help. An important part of providing care to older persons who have difficulty sleeping is making sure they are not groggy or disoriented when they get out of bed in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning.
What Are the Best Ways To Address Restless Sleep?
Restless sleep can only be addressed if the root reason is discovered. In order to avoid tossing and turning and prevent it from becoming a long-term problem, there are a number of procedures that may be taken, including consulting a doctor.
When to Talk to a Doctor
Restless sleep that is regular, chronic, or deteriorating should be brought to the attention of a medical professional. Also, if you are experiencing severe daytime sleepiness or other daytime impairment, it is important to see your doctor as soon as possible to get an accurate diagnosis and the best treatment options.
Sleep Hygiene Improvements
Sleep hygiene can have a significant impact on the quality of a person’s sleep at any age. Consistency in your sleep pattern, bedtime routines, food, and exercise are all good places to start when trying to improve your sleep quality. Making your bedroom as pleasant as possible, with as few interruptions as possible, might lessen the likelihood of you having restless nights.
Keep a Sleep Journal
Journaling about how you sleep each night is a good method to get a better sense of what’s going on. In the journal, you can jot down any thoughts you have regarding why you’re having trouble sleeping. In addition to providing insight into your sleep patterns, tracking your sleep in this manner reveals possible trends concerning what is keeping you up at night.
Is Your Bedroom Optimized for Sleep?
Cool (65-68 degrees), dark, and quiet are the ideal conditions for sound sleep. As melatonin-inducing melatonin production can be disrupted by light, a dark bedroom is ideal. As a result, turn off all of your lights at night and cover your eyes with blackout drapes or blinds.
Another no-no is excessive background noise. Even if you think you’ve gotten used to sleeping in a noisy atmosphere, your sleep is undoubtedly suffering regardless of how you feel about it. Use a white noise machine and earplugs to keep outside noises from affecting your sleep.
Is Your Sleep Problem Actually a Light Problem?
What you may think of as a sleep issue may actually be a problem with light. Because your circadian rhythm is highly dependent on how much light you are exposed to during each 24-hour cycle, this can have a significant impact on how well you sleep.
The generation of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin is aided by limiting exposure to light, particularly blue light and strong light, 90 minutes before bedtime. In addition, a pair of blue-light-blocking glasses can be helpful.) Also, if you get up in the morning and expose yourself immediately to light (ideally sunlight), you send a message to your brain that it is time for melatonin production to halt.
Is Your Sleep Schedule Erratic?
Your circadian rhythm thrives on consistency, so keeping a regular bedtime and wake time should be a top priority if you want to fill your nights with less restless sleep and more restorative sleep. Just be sure the sleep schedule you set allows you to get the hours of sleep your body needs. (The RISE app uses special algorithms and your recent sleep history data to automatically calculate your personal sleep need and give you an ideal bedtime and wake time based on your chronotype.)
Do You Take Time to Wind Down Before Bed?
Keep a consistent bedtime and wake-up hour because your circadian rhythm relies on regularity if you want to spend your nights sleeping less restlessly and more rejuvenatingly. Just make sure that your sleep pattern permits you to obtain the amount of sleep your body needs each night. A sophisticated algorithm and your recent sleep history data are used by the RISE app to automatically determine your personal sleep requirement and provide you an optimum bedtime and waking time depending on your chronotype.
In order to have a more restful night’s sleep and less restless evenings, it’s critical that you maintain a consistent bedtime and wake-up schedule. Just make sure that your sleep pattern permits you to obtain the amount of sleep your body requires. (The RISE app uses proprietary algorithms and your recent sleep history data to automatically determine your personal sleep requirement and provide you an optimum bedtime and waking time depending on your chronotype.)
Do You Drink Alcohol Before Bed?
Despite the fact that alcohol has sedative characteristics, it is a terrible sleep aid since it interrupts regular sleep cycles. When you drink alcohol, your sleep is not continuous, but rather a series of brief awakenings. When you drink, you’re more likely to wake up in the middle of the night to urinate. Snoring and sleepwalking can both be exacerbated by excessive alcohol intake, so it’s advisable to abstain from alcoholic beverages for at least three to four hours before you go to bed.
Did You Exercise, Nap, Eat a Big Meal, or Consume Caffeine Too Close to Bedtime?
It’s critical to maintain a healthy diet and get regular exercise if you want to sleep well at night. However, eating or exercising too close to bedtime can interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Big meals three hours before night should be avoided as well as a one-hour workout.
Your afternoon sleep, which you can discover on your Energy Schedule in the RISE app, is the ideal time for a nap. It can be difficult to get to sleep if you take your nap later than that. You may set the app to alert you when it’s time to eat, exercise, drink caffeine, or get a drink.
Do You Let Your Pet Sleep in Your Bed?
Sleeping in the same room as a pet has significant advantages in terms of emotional well-being. But if you’re a light sleeper, having a pet around can make it difficult to get a good night’s rest. Cats are known to be more active at night, and dogs’ shifting positions or barking as they sleep can cause sleep disruptions. In general, pets who have trouble sleeping are more likely to make you have trouble sleeping as well.
Is Low Blood Sugar Waking You Up?
It’s possible that low blood sugar levels could be causing your insomnia. Try a modest snack before going to bed if you suspect that nocturnal hypoglycemia (particularly common among diabetics) is to blame for your insomnia.
Are You Pregnant?
Restless sleep is a common occurrence throughout pregnancy, and the third trimester is typically the most affected.
Do You Suffer From Orthosomnia?
It’s a relatively new sleep disorder, orthosomnia, which is characterized by obsessing over the data provided by wearables and sleep technology. It’s one of the reasons why we at Rise strive to keep things as basic and concise as possible. The only “score” that matters to us is your sleep debt, not the amount of time you spend in REM or deep sleep, for example.
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