Back page symptoms: that’s what I call disorder manifestations you won’t find in formal diagnostic criteria. Fragmented sleep is one of them. Let’s see what we can learn about it

It’s been said that a night of fragmented sleep is akin to staying up the entire night.

Wouldn’t you know it. The one thing we need the most is one of the first things to hit the road when we’re having a rough go.

Sleep is essential. And the fragmented version will cause problems.

Let’s get busy…

Why is sleep important?

In these days of 24/7 accessibility to intense brain and body stimulation, this natural fact often hides under the covers: sufficient quality sleep, at the right times, is just as essential to our survival as food and water.

In addition to its contribution to life-sustaining brain functions, recent research suggests sleep plays a crucial housekeeping role, removing brain toxins that build-up while we’re awake.

Doubt it?

Doubt the importance of sleep? Then explain why powerful brain anatomy such as the hypothalamus, brain stem, thalamus, cerebral cortex, pineal gland, basal forebrain, midbrain, and the amygdala play starring roles in the facilitation of sleep.

And what about circadian rhythm and homeostasis?

The natural fact: they’re part of us because sleep is essential to life.

Stages of sleep

Okay, we need to review the stages of sleep before we get into its fragmentation. Simply, there are two basic types of sleep: rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM, the latter having three different stages.

It’s intended that each of us cycle through all stages of non-REM and REM sleep several times during a typical night (day), with increasingly longer and deeper REM periods occurring toward morning.

So the cycle is three non-REM stages followed by a REM stage. The third non-REM stage is designed to provide the deep sleep required for feeling refreshed when we wake-up.

What is fragmented sleep?

Fragmented sleep (sleep fragmentation) is defined as numerous brief arousals throughout any given primary sleep period.

This doesn’t include what are known as microarousals, the normal tossing, turning, and changing of positions.


It’s important to keep in mind that fragmented sleep is about all-out awakenings that are remembered.

Now, some folks can resume sleep fairly easily, while others struggle. In either case, we’re dealing with a significant sleep interruption – with consequences.

Sleep-maintenance insomnia

Some who suffer from fragmented sleep have a co-occurring condition known as sleep-maintenance insomnia. These people would say they have no problem falling asleep, but maintaining it is another matter.

In sum, fragmented sleep is the interruption – incompletion – of our natural sleep cycle, with all its intended stages.

And that’s a problem.

Fragmented sleep: What’s the big?

i have depression and can't sleep
“I’m beyond annoyed. I’m worried about my overall health.”

Well, it doesn’t take the world’s foremost sleep expert to figure out that fragmented – unrefreshing, unsatisfying – sleep can go well beyond annoyance.

Sorry to say, fragmented sleep can result in some serious health consequences.

These can include extreme daytime sleepiness, exacerbated depression, anxiety, and (hypo)mania, impaired insulin management, cardiovascular issues, and weight gain.

And that weight gain? Fragmented sleep can cause a lowered metabolism and increased cortisol levels, which can generate an increase in appetite and decrease in one’s ability to burn calories.

The bottom-line

It’s been said that a night of fragmented sleep is akin to staying up the entire night.

And how ’bout this? In a recent study by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, it’s submitted that just one night of fragmented sleep sliced “happiness” levels by some 33%.

How to Make It Stop

There are a variety of ways to assist in making fragmented sleep a thing of the past, many of them focusing upon sleep hygiene.

Unfortunately, there isn’t the space to share the information here; however, there’s an article on Forbes that has some solid information. Yes, it’s from 2012, but it’s still relevant. I’ll link you up at the end.

“Sleep and sex”

Funny story, as we wrap things up. I was talking with my PCP about my sleep issues several months back. ‘Course, I had to fess up regarding my lousy sleep hygiene (goofing around on my cell phone when I should be nodding off).

Her response was beautiful: “Mr. White, the bed is for two things – sleep and sex.”

Let’s get some sleep

As you likely figured out, most of the articles here on Chipur are based upon my life experience.

It wasn’t too awful long ago that I came to the conclusion that I have fragmented sleep. Thing is, though, I wouldn’t have known it – and commenced pursuing remedies – had I not bumped into some much needed information.

Like you just did.

Here’s the Forbes piece: 12 Ways To Beat Insomnia And Sleep Better–No Matter What’s Keeping You Awake

Thanks to the National Institutes of Health: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke for the general sleep info, as well as Tuck.

Last but not least, be sure to check out the hundreds of Chipur mood and anxiety info and inspiration titles.

Skip to content