This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Canada, which closed in 2021.

A Bad Night's Sleep Is Just As Bad As Sleep Deprivation, Study Finds

In a first of its kind study, researchers at Tel Aviv University's School of Psychological Sciences established a causal link between interrupted sleep and compromised cognition, attention span and humor, concluding that interrupted sleep is roughly equivalent to four hours of consecutive sleep.

According to study author Dr. Avi Sadeh, who directs a sleep clinic at TAU, previous studies have established an association between night waking and the aforementioned negative consequences, but his is the first to establish a causal link.

The sleep patterns of 61 healthy adults, 40 of which were females between the ages of 20 and 29 years old, were traced at their homes using actigraphy and sleep diaries.

Self-reporting was the method used to assess mood and participants were asked to perform computer tasks to assess cognitive abilities and attention span.

Participants were assessed after both a normal (control) night's sleep and after a night during which sleep was either restricted to four hours or interrupted four times over the course of eight hours in bed.

Interruptions were designed to keep participants awake for a period of 10 to 15 minutes.

While researchers found few significant differences between interrupted sleep and sleep deprivation, the differences between the aforementioned conditions and a normal night's sleep were vast.

Results indicate an increase in depression, fatigue and confusion in addition to diminished vigor and motivation when sleep is interrupted or restricted.

"Our study shows the impact of only one disrupted night," says Dr. Sadeh. "But we know that these effects accumulate and therefore the functional price new parents -- who awaken three to ten times a night for months on end -- pay for common infant sleep disturbance is enormous."

Dr. Sadeh is already at work on further research on how to reduce the negative consequences of night wakings for parents of infants.

In an interview, he added that sleep research has been largely concentrated on the deprivation side over the past 50 years and not enough has been done to examine the effects of sleep interruption.

Also on HuffPost

Sleep Deprivation Can...

Suggest a correction
This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Canada. Certain site features have been disabled. If you have questions or concerns, please check our FAQ or contact