A new study has shown that waking up during the night could cause poor health and take years off of your life.
Poor quality sleep may do more than leave you feeling groggy and tired the next day. It could boost your risk of dying from heart disease or other causes.
Sometimes, you’ll be aroused from sleep from an identifiable cause: a car alarm goes off, you awaken from a nightmare, or you’ve got to go to the bathroom. Other times, you may experience a micro-awakening resulting from a pause in breathing or a minor irritant.
The latter examples may not propel you into consciousness like a loud noise, but they do unconsciously wake you up and disrupt sleep. When they’re frequently happening, it could take a severe toll.
This new study looked at data gathered using sleep monitors from 8,000 men and women. They participated in three different studies that lasted between six and eleven years.
Women who experienced more nightly sleep disruptions over a long time had nearly double the risk of dying from heart disease and were more likely to die from other causes than those who slept more soundly.
Poor sleep impacted men as well, just not as much as their female counterparts. Men experiencing long-term, frequent sleep disruptions were 25-percent more likely to die early from heart disease compared to those who slept well.
It’s also worth noting that people who experience frequent sleep disturbances are more likely to have other heart disease risk factors like obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
High stress and anxiety can also make it more difficult to stay asleep through the night.
If you find yourself getting up multiple times throughout the night, there are a few things you can do about it. The first is to try and minimize any potential distractions. Blackout curtains, eye masks, or earplugs can help block out lights and sounds that make it hard to sleep.
Avoiding food and drink a few hours before bed, especially those with alcohol and caffeine, may also help.
If your partner complains about your snoring, or if you regularly feel tired and groggy, consult a sleep specialist. It’s possible you could be suffering from sleep apnea.
Developing a pre-bedtime routine that encourages relaxation and calm may also help with better, less fractured sleep.