What is microsleeping?
This is a condition that happens to many people from time to time. The funny thing is that most people have no idea that the condition can be corrected. Microsleeping basically involves short, temporary sleeping episodes that happen in the course of the day. The condition happens even when an individual is awake. For you to be asleep, your brain has to decompress and shut down. When you experience microsleeping, your brain goes on offline. Your eyes might be open but you will not have an idea of what is happening in your surroundings. This means you don’t respond physically to your environment because your brain is asleep. Sleeping episodes during the day might be as a result of many issues. The common cause is sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation is normally due to sleep debt. When you don’t have the required amount of sleep at night, it creates a sleep debt and these sleep debts will accumulate and create sleep deprivation which will, in turn, be the major reason why you will experience sleeping episodes during the day.
Micro sleeping has no warnings; normally you will just experience signs and symptoms. Most episodes are between one second and 30 seconds long. Sometimes, they might extend to a minute or so. To some people, these sleeping episodes are more like light sleeping sessions but they have not qualified to be naps. The major reason why you can’t relate to the physical environment when having the episodes is that the brain is already asleep or shut down and so it cannot process things. You are probably wondering what might bring about the episodes. Insomnia and long naps have been shown to be responsible for this condition. Some key facts to remember include:
- This is a condition that is experienced by many people, especially those with sleep disorders. In most cases, patients experiencing sleep disorders rarely get enough sleep. Some even have difficulties falling asleep. Having adequate quality sleep has more benefits to your body than you could imagine. Sometimes, sleeping disorders are caused by poor sleeping habits. However, these habits can be changed and you will continue having a good night’s sleep. When you have insomnia, for example, it means that you will experience sleep deprivation and this will lead to sleep debt. It is not good to have sleep debts because your body will not function accordingly. So, the best way to handle all this is by ensuring you get a permanent solution to your sleeping disorder.
- Naps have health benefits to the body. What you should always remember is that naps shouldn’t belong. They should be timed and short. Limit your naps to 30 minutes at most. In most cases, if you have longer naps, they interfere with your sleeping schedule. If you love your day-to-day program, then you will understand the essence of being focused on your activities. Long naps also make it hard for an individual to sleep at night. This means that you will sleep late but probably wake up early. That will mean that you have a sleeping debt that needs to be settled. Therefore, you are likely to experience micro sleeping when you least expect it.
Common signs associated with sleeping episodes
The truth is that prevention is better than cure. The only way to protect yourself from a certain condition is if you know the warning signs and symptoms. Just like any disorder experienced by human beings, there are signs and symptoms that will indicate you are experiencing micro sleeping. Below are major symptoms that you need to be on the lookout for:
- If you work in any establishment, you need enough rest. If you don’t get the required rest, you will have trouble staying awake during the day. The reality is that some occupations are generally hectic and tiring. However, after a good night’s rest, you should feel better. Whenever you notice you are feeling sleepy when at work, then it means you are about to experience several sleeping episodes and these can be dangerous in some occupations. It could also be an indication if you find yourself jerking awake when working or losing a few minutes of time when you space out. Such episodes can result in accidents in machine-related occupations.
- If you are a driver and notice that you can’t stick to your lane when driving because of sleep, then chances are you are having a micro sleeping disorder. This can be dangerous because it can result in fatal accidents. Whenever you are driving and you notice you didn’t notice the traffic lights go green or red because your eyes were closed or you zoned out, then it also means you might be experiencing sleep episodes. Driving is an activity that requires a lot of attention and so you need to fully concentrate. Whenever you notice you have no attention or focus because you are dosing off, then it means you are experiencing microsleep.
- Yawning is a condition that most times expresses boredom or exhaustion. Whenever you notice you are yawning a lot then it means that you are tired and your body requires rest. The best way of resting is having good sleep. If you are not hungry or bored, then yawning might indicate readiness to go to bed. If you find yourself yawning before you shut down, you might be suffering from microsleeping.
- How many times have you had a teacher complain that a certain student is absent-minded? How many times have you heard someone ask the other what they do at night when others are asleep? Most people sleep at night so that they can wake up the next day ready to live another day. This might be difficult in some situations because you are absent-minded. Being absent-minded is a condition where the mind has no concentration on what you are doing. This is because the mind might be sleeping or is generally tuned into other issues. It is also called daydreaming. When this happens, an individual can stare at the something for a long time without blinking or recognizing its presence. This is a sign that you are experiencing micro sleeping during the day.
- It is normal for you to react differently to different situations. This might not be possible when an individual is experiencing sleeping episodes. You will not be able to respond accordingly to the environment because you are there in your physical state but your mind receptors are probably idle or they have shut down. When the brain receptors aren’t as active, then it means you will take time to notice what is happening within your environment. If you notice this sign, then it means that you might be experiencing microsleeping.
Things you need to do in order to prevent microsleeping from interfering with your day-to-day activities
Everyone has something they do during the day, whether it is a job or school or even just staying at home and being a caregiver. In order to get through this activities, you need to be focused and be able to concentrate. However, there are certain things that interfere with your performance. Sleep is among the things that will disrupt your day and sometimes, it can determine the outcome in terms of output. When you have had a good rest, you will be in a better position to deliver good results unlike when you have had little or no sleep. Below are some of the things you should do to avoid micro sleeping:
- Sleep has been known to cure stress and also other health conditions. As a driver, you need to have proper sleep before commencing any journey whether the journey is short or long. Research has indicated that sleep deprivation is one of the major factors that have led to an increase in road accidents. Assuming you are going on a road trip with friends or even a relative or even if it is a job, you need to have enough sleep so that you can have proper attention and focus while driving. If you don’t have proper sleep, then you will experience microsleeping which will mess around with your concentration and attention when you are driving. This is dangerous because it can lead to fatal accidents which will, in turn, lead to deaths. It will be hard to live with the fact that you could have avoided the whole accident if only you chose to have enough sleep. Don’t put yourself in such a position.
- The other thing you need to consider when driving is to have a co-driver. Having a co-driver is helpful because he or she can drive when you start experiencing warning signs of micro sleeping. If you have never driven before, you may not understand how tiring driving can get. The second driver is also there to guide you and keep you engaged so that you don’t experience any sleeping episodes while driving. You can even plan the journey in such a way that you both take turns driving. It will give you time to rest and be rejuvenated.
- The other thing you need to keep in mind is how focused you are at any given time. Some activities can’t be done when you are not attentive. When you are at work and you realize your mind is going astray and you cannot operate any machinery well, take a break. You would rather take a walk to become awake again or splash some cold water on your face to become alert. If you can, go and take a short nap and come back when you feel better. Don’t ignore the signs that your body is fatigued as you could hurt someone or even yourself.
- If you are a student, there are various things you can do so as to avoid sleeping episodes in class. First and foremost, always interact with your fellow students or even your teacher. This way, you will save yourself from sleeping in class when the teacher is teaching. Actively participating during the class will mean you are concentrating and this will result in better grades and results in your exams and assignments. You will also have a better understanding of what is being taught. If the teacher is not around, you can try simple activities like spinning your pen so that you don’t send your mind on holiday yet you need it in class.
- If you are keen enough, you will notice that school learning programs have breaks and even occupations have broken. The breaks are there to remove the boredom and at the same time, help you rejuvenate your body system. During the breaks, you can engage in activities that stimulate your mind or allow you to rest. If you are feeling sleepy during the breaks, you can walk around and have something light to eat. You go back to class or with better concentration and attentiveness. If it is in a work environment, you have lunch breaks that allow you to stretch and come back refreshed. Afterward, you will be ready to offer better and high-quality services in production. Experiencing sleeping episodes can mess up your work. For instance, if you are an accountant, you have no room for errors because you were absent-minded. The reality is that one mistake can cost the company millions. Therefore, take breaks to rejuvenate.
- The other thing you need to be careful about is what you eat. Don’t just eat anything because it is food or because you are hungry. You might have heard that people tend to sleep a lot at school or work after lunch breaks. This is because they tend to consume heavy meals that take the body ages to digest. As such, the body tends to divert most its blood supply to the digestive system. The mind also slows down and you start feeling sleepy. To avoid this, eat healthy light meals that will give you a big energy boost and also keep your brain active. This way, you will be able to stay awake even after lunch. You will end up having a highly productive day.
This is a condition that is brought about the accumulation of sleep due to inadequate sleep at night. All in all, the major and most effective way of curing this condition is by ensuring you pay off your sleeping debt. This is done by getting enough sleep.
Major facts you need to know about sleeping deprivation.
- Sleep deprivation plays a major role in how you function during the day. The reality is that you need a lot of focus during the day depending on what you do. Different occupations have different demands. If you are a manual worker, you are sometimes required to attend to different shifts. This means that you might have to take the night shift at times. Whether you are working during the day or night, you still need good rest so that you can function well. Always try and have a proper sleeping schedule, whether you are sleeping during the day or at night. Don’t overstrain your body because it will try compensating by undergoing microsleeping. This can be dangerous if you operate any machinery. You could also lose your job or get suspended from school.
- Another factor you need to remember is that sleep deprivation leads to accidents. You should avoid working or operating anything when sleepy or drowsy. This is an early signal that you are having sleep debts. Sleep debts can be dangerous when they accumulate as they can lead to microsleeping. If you work in a factory that deals with manufacturing, you need to be attentive or else you will have accidents that will involve the machines. The accidents may lead to electrical problems or even lead to the damaging of goods. Another area where accidents happen is when you are driving. It is not safe to drive when you are having sleep episodes during that time. You might miss the traffic lights and this might result in accidents. Sometimes, you might even find it difficult sticking to your own lane when driving. This means that you might push another vehicle out of the road or you might drive yourself into a ditch. So, it has been proven that sleep deprivation results in various types of accidents.
- The other thing you need to know is that when sleep accumulates, it creates a sleep debt. A sleep debt needs to be paid at some point. If not, you will always have it difficult staying up during the day. You may find yourself sleeping at any given opportunity. You need to be smart and ensure that you pay sleep debts in time. You can visit a doctor who will give you numerous ways of ensuring that you don’t have sleep deprivation. They can also help you come up with a sleep schedule that does not lead to accumulated sleep debts. If you are having trouble paying off your sleep debts, the doctor can also prescribe some medication to help you relax and sleep.
- The other thing you need to know about sleep deprivation is that affects all age brackets. However, it is proven that children are at a higher risk of experiencing sleep deprivation because of many reasons. The reasons include stress and also staying up playing games on their gadgets. This is will, in turn, reduce the amount of sleep they get before going to school. The games keep their brains engaged and so they fall asleep very late at night. This will, in turn, lower productivity in school and affect their grades.
Natural methods that will help you cure your sleep deprivation and sleep debt
The reality is that you sometimes give the body less rest and this is what is called sleep deprivation. Some will argue that they don’t deny the body the required amount of sleep because they want to. Instead, they will blame it on their occupations. Some people will carry their assignments or work home and work on it first before they go to sleep. This will affect the time you sleep. In addition, this will in one way or the other affect your internal clock. Sometimes, your boss will give you a deadline on a certain report and this will mean that you work late and deny your body the required sleep. This will also have an effect on your sleeping schedule. So in one way or the other, you will have experience sleep deprivation which will lead to sleep debt. The sleep debt is just basically the accumulation of sleep. So, how will you pay this sleep debt? Below are simple ways you can do so and regain your normal sleep schedule;
- The only way you can pay a sleep debt is by ensuring you sleep more. When you sleep more, your body gets enough rest. You need not forget that the reason why you are having sleep debt is that you have accumulated sleep. So, when you have free time or when you leave work early, you can always ensure that you go to bed early in order to have enough sleep. The other way you can ensure you sleep more is by freeing your weekends. This is one way of having free time to yourself to relax. You can use this time to catch up on the much-needed sleep and pay your sleeping debt. You will be able to start the week on a new page.
- Sometimes, you might not have enough time to sleep probably because you have a lot of things you need to do. So, you will only have enough time to take naps. Naps are healthy depending on how long they last. You need to ensure that your naps don’t take that long because they will also alter your internal clock and you will find it hard to sleep at night. This will be creating another problem. Time your naps to be thirty minutes or less.
Things you can do at home to help you avoid having sleep episodes during the day
Sleep episodes during the day that are short are referred to as micro sleeping. They are episodes that can be avoided. Below are natural methods that can help you do so:
- As an individual, if you have enough sleep, then chances are you will have better performance the following day. Having enough sleep means that you kick out any chances of suffering from insomnia or any other sleeping disorders. Any sleeping disorder will result in you having sleeping episodes during the day. Therefore, if you deal with your sleeping disorders in order to get enough sleep, you will avoid micro sleeping.
- The other thing you can do when you notice you are having warning signs of micro sleep is to involve yourself in some exercises. These exercises include walking around or even riding a bicycle. These activities can return your mind back to focus on what you were doing before. It will be harder to fall sleep in that case.
- Another thing you need to know is that it is very hard to have sleep episodes when you are looking at bright light. The light in your environment can be set to influence your sleep. If you want to stay awake, choose a brightly lit room. Your eyes will be forced to adjust and will send a signal to your brain to stay awake.
- The other thing you need to understand is that it is very hard to experience microsleep when you are in a noisy place. Your eardrums will collect the sound and send it to your brain receptors. Your mind will focus on where you are and you will be able to concentrate on the task at hand. Therefore, if you feel yourself getting tired, you can put on some upbeat music for a while before getting back to the task at hand.
- It is difficult to experience sleep episodes at some temperatures. Extremely cold temperatures will not promote sleep. Instead, your body will be working tirelessly to maintain your normal temperature. Therefore, if you feel like you are getting sleepy, you can turn down the temperature for a few minutes before turning it back up.
- Sometimes, it is all about what you want. If you have a reason why you are engaged in a certain activity, then you will be focused and you will achieve what you want. Always ensure that you develop an interest in everything you do. Interest will help you avoid sleep episodes as you perform your daily activities. In addition, when you are motivated to achieve something, you will do it to the best of your ability. This means that despite exhaustion, you will be willing to see it to completion. You will not be able to rest until the task is accomplished.
Major tips you should consider using to help your sleep-deprived teenagers
Teenagers experience a lot of sleep episodes during their daily activities. However, this condition can be changed if you helped them in the following ways:
- Always ensure that you are aware of what screen is on in the house. Some teenagers enjoy watching television in the bedroom. The question should be when they switch it off. You need to make sure that all screens are off when it is time to sleep. This will mean that they have more time to sleep, which is great for their wellbeing. Sleep has been proven to improve memory. So, enough sleep is not only necessary to solve sleep deprivation but also help them with their memory in school and at home.
- The other thing you need to be careful about is the beverages they are drinking before going to bed. Any beverage that has caffeine shouldn’t be taken when it is almost bedtime. Caffeine will stimulate the body and this will mean that the teenagers have less time sleeping. When that happens, they have sleep deprivation, which will actually result in sleep debts. A sleep debt isn’t healthy for anyone because it will lead to less focus and lack of concentration.
- Your body has an internal clock that helps it perform its daily activities. This internal clock is something that is found in everyone and determines being awake and asleep. You need to train teenagers on how they can set their sleeping schedules. The only way they can achieve this is by having a routine whereby they go to bed early and wake up at a certain time. This will train their bodies to function on a certain number of hours of sleep. It will increase productivity.
- Your body functions well under certain temperatures. It is hard to sleep when the temperatures are very high or when they are very low. So, the best thing is to ensure that the room temperatures of your sons’ and daughters’ rooms are right and that anyone can sleep in them. The only way you can cure sleep deprivation is by having enough sleep. When your teenager has enough sleep, he or she will have an easier time interacting with others socially. It is proven that people with insomnia have a hard time interacting with others. Therefore, make sure to set the thermostat at the appropriate temperatures so that that they can sleep well.
- The bedroom is where most people sleep. This means that the bedroom requires a lot of things to make sleeping comfortable. Always ensure that your sons and daughters have a comfortable bed to sleep in. This can be done by ensuring that the pillow is comfortable and the mattress is in good shape. The other thing about the bedroom is that it should have the correct lighting. The lights should be dull and not too bright. When everything is set in the bedroom, then your son or daughter will not have a problem sleeping in time. Sleeping in time will ensure that he or she has enough sleep, which is something that will prevent sleep deprivation.
Co-founder of Counting Sheep and Sleepaholic