What Is Restless Sleep?
While not an official disorder, restless sleep can often be described as tossing and turning, the inability to get comfortable, and waking up throughout the night. It’s common to wake up feeling unrefreshed and fatigued after a night of restless sleep. How it’s perceived depends on whether you’re experiencing it or the one observing it.
According to the Sleep Foundation, here are a few common signs that may mean you’re experiencing restless sleep:
- Unable to get comfortable in bed
- Tossing and turning
- Waking up frequently throughout the night
- Feeling half asleep or not well rested
- Racing mind
- Not being able to fall asleep quickly after waking up
Of course, everyone deals with a rough night of sleep every once in a while. However, night after night of restless sleep can become serious. In the long term, continuously disrupted sleep can lead to further health problems.
Observing Restless Sleep
In some cases, an individual may not realize they’re suffering from restless sleep. Here are a few signs you may observe in another person that may indicate restlessness or a possible sleep disorder:
- Loud snoring that involves choking or gasping
- Frequent tossing and turning
- Notable movement of the limbs and possible sleepwalking
- Talking while asleep
- Teeth grinding (bruxism)
What Causes Restless Sleep?
Various causes can be linked to causing restless sleep.
Stress may be the culprit behind your restless nights. It can have a significant impact on sleep quality and prevent you from getting a good night’s rest. Stress can also impact mental health, another possible cause of poor sleep. Addressing mental health with a qualified professional may help you achieve restful sleep once again.
Foods high in fat, high in sodium, spicy, or fried aren’t ideal to consume before bed. These types of foods are typically harder to digest and can cause acid reflux or heartburn, causing possible sleep problems. Drinking caffeine or alcohol before bed can also harm your sleep cycle.
Poor Sleep Hygiene
Sleep hygiene refers to your sleep habits each night. Examples of poor sleep habits include frequent naps throughout the day, exposure to an excessive amount of light (especially blue light) before bed, and having an inconsistent sleep schedule. To learn how to improve your sleep hygiene, check out our blog on how to create a nighttime routine.
Inconsistent Sleep Schedule
An irregular sleep schedule can quickly throw off our internal clocks. Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is vital for our sleep quality. Fixing your sleep schedule may help you achieve quality sleep and reduce restlessness.
An uncomfortable bed can easily contribute to sleep restlessness. If your bed is too soft, it may cause you to sink into it and make your hips sit lower than your shoulders. On the other hand, if your bed is too hard, it may feel stiff and create discomfort. We encourage individuals to research mattresses and find one that’s best suited for their preferences and body type to help them achieve quality sleep.
Dealing With Restless Sleep
If restless sleep is stemming from poor sleep hygiene, there are a variety of ways to help fix it.
Keep a Sleep Journal
Learning about your sleep patterns can help to fix them. Start keeping a sleep journal where you take notes about how well and how long you sleep each night. Tracking your sleep not only helps you identify problems but can also help you pinpoint what’s causing restlessness. Learn more about sleep journaling with our blog post.
Heavy light exposure can throw off your circadian rhythm and disrupt the signals that your body puts off to tell you it’s time for bed. To combat the effects of light, we recommend putting your phone down or turning off other bright electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime.
Optimize Your Bedroom
Creating a comfortable space can improve your sleep quality. The best temperature for sleep is around 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re sleeping in an environment that’s too hot or too cold, it interferes with your body’s thermoregulation.
When to Talk to Your Doctor
If you’ve tried multiple methods and your restless sleep continues to persist or becomes worse, it may be a sign of a bigger issue and should be discussed with your doctor. In addition, excessive daytime sleepiness or other daytime impairment should always be talked about with your doctor to ensure proper treatment is prescribed.
Get the Sleep You Deserve
Your restless sleep may be a sign of a bigger health problem, including sleep disorders. If you find yourself diagnosed with sleep apnea, our Keller, TX team is here to help you. Dr. Lauck will work with you and help you find the best treatment for your diagnosis. To schedule an appointment, call our office today at (817) 431-6764. You can request an appointment online, and one of our team members will get back to you shortly.