SD-Girl woke up at night, sitting on bed and holding her hands to head

Sleep Interruptions: Their Causes and How They Affect You

A good night’s sleep can make the world bright and cheerful when you wake up. However, it may not be the same when your sleep often gets interrupted or if you have trouble sleeping at night. Insufficient sleep can make it difficult to think clearly and easier to make you anxious and irritated. It can also lead to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other serious health concerns. This makes it even more important to know what’s disrupting your sleep.

Causes of Interrupted Sleep

There are many possible causes of interrupted sleep, and each person’s situation may involve multiple factors.


Older adults often experience sleep fragmentation because of the natural shifting of their sleep patterns. It results in less time spent in deep sleep, making them more likely to wake up in the light stages of sleep. Unfortunately, this may lead to more sleep disturbances.

Women experience menopause when they reach middle age. Their body produces less estrogen and progesterone, which causes all sorts of symptoms like hot flashes. A surge of adrenaline raises your body temperature, making you sweat and waking you several times throughout the night.


Altering your lifestyle increases the likelihood of sleep interruptions. A sleep schedule that’s all over the place, excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption, and using electronic devices like phones in bed disrupt a person’s sleep patterns. Too much light or excessive bedroom noise may also cause sleep disturbances.

Sleep Disorders

Different types of sleeping disorders, like obstructive sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome, can disrupt sleep. Other medical conditions that affect sleep quality include insomnia, nighttime urination, and cardiovascular problems.


The medications you’re taking also contribute to sleep interruptions. Some may have complex schedules and timing that require you to wake up at night o take them. Some medications, like over-the-counter decongestants, have stimulants.

Underlying Conditions

Back pain and arthritis can keep you up at night, while allergies and asthma can disrupt your breathing. Parkinson’s disease can lead to body movements that can disrupt sleep. Alzheimer’s disease may also keep someone agitated during regular sleeping hours.


Stress and anxiety may disrupt a person’s sleep or cause insomnia, affecting their ability to fall asleep. Some people constantly think about things to do in the middle of the night, keeping them restless. Parents with young children or babies often have their sleep interrupted multiple times at night; caregivers for sick or disabled loved ones also face the same problem.

Changes to Daylight Exposure

Changes in daylight exposure, like intercontinental travel or working night shifts, disrupt the circadian rhythm, making it difficult for a person to sleep. A change in sleep pattern causes a person to sleep through the day and awake at night.

Effects of Sleep Interruptions

Interrupted sleep can have serious consequences that significantly impact sleep quality and other aspects of your health. Even if it doesn’t reduce sleep quantity, mounting evidence shows that interrupted sleep causes health problems.

Some of the effects of constantly interrupted sleep include:

Not Enough Sleep

Sleep interruptions often lead to inadequate sleep, and research has shown a strong correlation between sleep consistency and total sleep time. People are at a higher risk of sleep deficiency if they often experience sleep interruptions.

Sleep maintenance is also a common complaint of people with insomnia.

Insufficient sleep often leads to daytime sleepiness, affecting an individual’s performance at school or work. It also increases the likelihood of getting into an accident while operating machinery or driving.

Neurodegenerative Diseases

Sleep disruptions have been linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as age-related cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s Disease. Research suggests that fragmented sleep may be an early sign of these conditions. However, it could also contribute to their development and or progression.

Mood Disorders

Repeated awakenings during sleep have been linked to mood disorders such as depression. One study found that the link between interrupted sleep and decreased positive moods was stronger than reduced hours of continuous sleeping.

These problems were further compounded by consecutive nights of interrupted sleep suggesting that the effects can build up over time.

Negative Impact on Physical Health

Disrupted sleep negatively impacts your physical health. Multiple system activation during repeated awakenings and interrupted sleep stages are linked to higher rates of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases and weight gain.

Although disturbed sleep could be linked to increased cancer risk, further research is needed to understand the complex relationship between sleep and cancer.

How to Cope With Sleep Interruptions

The potential effects of disrupted sleep on the brain or body show that healthy sleep requires more than just getting enough sleep; it also means avoiding interruptions to sleep continuity.

While you can’t control all causes of disturbed sleep, you can take concrete steps to prevent or fix it.

Improve Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene refers to all aspects of sleep-related routines and habits. Good sleep hygiene removes obstacles to falling asleep or staying asleep, making it easier for you to get a solid night’s rest without interruptions or disturbances.

Improve Sleep Environment

Improving your sleep environment is also an excellent way to help you stay asleep. Do this by:

  • Avoiding excessive light – Use blackout curtains and low-wattage bedside lamps. You can also use a sleeping mask if necessary.
  • Reducing your room’s temperature – You’re more likely to get sleepy in a cool but comfortable room.
  • Blocking out noise – Noise can potentially wake you up. Wear earplugs or use a white noise-maker.
  • Making the bed enticing and comfortable – A comfy and inviting bed will help you get more comfortable and stay asleep.

Develop Sleep Habits and Routines

You need to make sure your sleep hygiene habits are working for you. Here are tips for developing or improving your habits and routines:

  • Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day, even on weekends.
  • Avoid alcohol, smoking, caffeine, and large meals at night, especially before bed.
  • Establish a routine before going to bed. It will give you plenty of time to relax and wind down.
  • Get your daily sun exposure by going out or opening your blinds.
  • Don’t use your phone and other electronic devices before and while in bed.
  • Exercise everyday.

Address Underlying Issues

Consult your health care provider if you have any underlying health issues and sleep disorders. Addressing them will help you stay asleep and improve your sleep quality, overall health, and quality of life.

Key Takeaway

Lifestyle, health status, age, and stress are some of the things that can interrupt your sleep at night. Constantly interrupted sleep can lead to different health problems like mood disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, and other negative health effects. You can cope by developing sleep habits and routines, addressing underlying health issues, and improving your sleep environment and hygiene.

Address sleep apnea with Sunrise Dentistry.

Our dentist in Durango CO, can help you address your sleep apnea and improve your sleep quality. They can also offer tips to help you sleep better. Call us today and start your journey to wellness.

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