Shallow Sleep Syndrome: When Getting "Enough" Sleep Just Isn't Enough
Shallow sleep syndrome, also referred to as nonrestorative sleep, leaves a person feeling overwhelmingly tired even after getting a solid seven or more hours of sleep. Learning more about this sleep issue and how you can treat it is key to ensuring that you wake up each morning feeling energized and ready to take on the day.
What is Shallow Sleep Syndrome?
As the name implies, shallow sleep syndrome indicates that your body is not falling into a deep sleep when you try to rest. In contrast, restorative sleep is defined as the rest that happens when an individual goes through all of the stages of sleep in their entirety. Going through this process correctly will leave you feeling both physically and mentally refreshed.
Nonrestorative sleep does not deliver this same feeling of restfulness. While it is not unusual to feel tired if you do not get the proper amount of sleep each night, it is more alarming to get at least seven hours of sleep and still feel fatigued when you wake up. If you are getting enough hours of sleep but you still wake up feeling exhausted, there is a chance that you are not cycling through the stages of sleep in the proper way.
There are a number of factors that may contribute to this nonrestorative sleep, including age, lifestyle habits and innate sleep disorders. A sleep specialist can help you to identify the issues that may be impacting the quality of rest that you get each night.
Symptoms of shallow sleep syndrome include unexplained fatigue, excessive daytime sleepiness, irritability, depression, poor immune function, muscle aches and pains and difficulty concentrating and performing cognitive tasks.
Why Restorative Sleep is So Important
Despite the obvious reason that you need quality rest each night in order to feel your best the next day, there are a host of additional reasons that point to the importance of restorative sleep. There are serious health risks associated with not getting enough restorative sleep on a regular basis.
Insufficient sleep in both quantity and quality raises the risk of health complications such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and stroke. This is largely because insufficient sleep increases harmful inflammation throughout the body, a predictor of a variety of health issues both in the short term and down the road.
Inadequate sleep has also been connected to a higher incidence of mental health issues. This includes an increase in the rate of depression and anxiety. Some studies have also linked poor sleeping habits to cognitive decline and long-term issues such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia. For example, researchers have found that the quality of sleep that you enjoy in your young adult and middle age years can protect your brain against age-related decline as you get older.
What to Do if You Suffer From Shallow Sleep Syndrome
If you suffer from shallow sleep syndrome, it is important that you take proactive steps to support healthy sleep habits. As with nearly any sleep issue, it is vital that you create an environment conducive to rest. This means that you need to sleep in a cool and dark room that is free of noise distractions. You should also be mindful about limiting caffeine and alcohol intake in the hours before bed.
Many people find it helpful to maintain a regular sleep-wake cycle, even on the weekends when you may be tempted to sleep in. Shutting down your electronics so that you are not exposing your brain to blue light at least two hours before bed is also extremely helpful. Lastly, being intentional about exercising at least 30 minutes each day will help to promote a better night of rest.
Melatonin as a Treatment for Shallow Sleep Syndrome
Another proven way to support a good night of sleep is to take a melatonin supplement. Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally produced by the body through the pineal gland. This hormone works in partnership with the natural circadian rhythm to calm the body and mind during the evening hours, preparing you for sleep.
There is a growing body of evidence that demonstrates that the use of a melatonin supplement may be one of the best ways to promote restful sleep. This non-habit forming supplement has been shown to decrease the amount of time that it takes to fall asleep while also reducing the amount of sleep disturbances throughout the night. As a result, you are more likely to sleep longer and more soundly. The supplement may also be helpful in mitigating the impacts of jet lag.
The important thing to know is that there is help available if you suffer from nonrestorative sleep. You do not have to resign yourself to always being tired no matter how much sleep you think you are getting each night.