Despite the fact that the American Academy of Sleep Medicine does not consider restless sleep an actual sleep disorder, it can still drastically affect your sleep quality and cause daytime sleepiness. Restless sleep does not have an absolute definition and can affect individuals differently.
For example, restless sleep can be:
- tossing and turning that prevents one from falling asleep
- easily falling asleep, but being unable to fall into a deep sleep
- feelings of frustration at not being able to sleep
- waking up due to racing thoughts
- waking up randomly and not being able to fall back asleep
Causes of Restless Sleep
There are various factors that can cause and/or contribute to restless sleep. In some cases, there may also be more than one factor at play. These factors can include:
Although restless sleep itself is not a sleep disorder, it can be a symptom of an actual sleep disorder. For example, someone with obstructive sleep apnea could wake up frequently throughout the night due to a lack of airflow. However, they may not realize the reason why they wake up and can attribute it to feeling restless.
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is another type of sleeping disorder characterized by the overwhelming urge to move your legs while trying to sleep. As you can probably guess, this constant feeling that one needs to move can cause restless sleep.
Stress, anxiety, and depression have all been associated with restless sleep. Stress and anxiety tend to increase racing thoughts and decrease relaxation, while depression can interrupt regular sleep patterns.
Stimulants and Depressants
Stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine increase the body’s alertness, which is counterproductive when trying to relax and fall asleep, and can lead to restless sleep. Depressants can also cause restless sleep. Even though depressants, like alcohol, can help one fall asleep, they interrupt the natural sleep cycle which can lead to restless sleep later in the night.
Restless Sleep and Obstructive Sleep Apnea
While there are several potential causes of restless sleep, one common cause is obstructive sleep apnea. When the body is unable to get enough oxygen while sleeping, sleep gets disrupted to restore breathing function. Not only that, but many people with OSA have been known to kick, thrash, toss, jerk, or turn over constantly while sleeping in an attempt to breathe better. One way to tell if you are moving around while you sleep is to look at your sheets in the morning. If your bed looks like a tornado went over it, then chances are you are moving around while you sleep.
Eliminate restless sleep so you can rest more! Contact Doctor Dreamweaver today to get your home sleep apnea test so you can sleep well and be well.