Here’s a new reason to replace that old and uncomfortable bed, pillow, or mattress topper. New research shows that individuals who experience interrupted sleep may as well not be getting anywhere near a full night’s sleep, no matter how long they stay in bed.
The study, conducted at Tel Aviv University (TAU) in Isreal, wanted to find out if people who have interrupted sleep patterns get the same benefits as people who sleep through the night.
The study was conducted on student volunteers at TAU’s School of Psychological Sciences. Their sleep patterns were monitored at home using wristwatch-like devices that detected when they were asleep and when they were awake. The students slept a normal eight-hour night, then experienced a night in which they were awakened four times by phone calls and told to complete a short computer task before going back to sleep after 10-15 minutes of wakefulness.
The students were asked each following morning to complete certain computer tasks to assess alertness and attention, as well as to fill out questionnaires to determine their mood. The researchers discovered that the subjects’ night of interrupted sleep was equivalent to no more than four consecutive hours of sleep.
The experiment showed a direct link between compromised attention, negative mood, and disrupted sleep — after only one night of frequent interruptions.
Scientists involved in the study say they think their findings are important because research over the last few years has been focused heavily on those who don’t sleep long enough, but has ignored those who are in bed all night but are interrupted several times. The findings can be related easily to new parents, doctors on call, and even individuals with uncomfortable bedding.