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How to Get Over Nonrestorative Sleep

How to Get Over Nonrestorative Sleep

According to the research funded by the Bryte Foundation, only 28.1% of Americans report high restorative sleep scores. One thought-provoking study from Frontiers in Sleep reveals that only three out of ten Americans get restorative sleep which means, seven out of ten Americans do not achieve restorative sleep. 

The National Sleep Foundation says that almost half of Americans feel sleepy during the day between three and seven days per week.

Are you feeling exhausted during the day, no matter how much sleep you get, and struggling to keep up with your commitments? You may be suffering from nonrestorative sleep.

Nonrestorative sleep affects a person’s mental and physical health, impacting everything from their mood to their ability to focus or stay alert. If you are dealing with this issue, don’t despair, there are ways to fight it. 

In this blog post, we’re exploring what nonrestorative sleep is, why it happens, and simple tips for getting back on track so you can make the most of your days! Read on for more information about how to tackle those sleepless nights and start waking up refreshed once again.

Sleeping vs resting

There is a subtle difference between sleeping and resting. Sleeping is the process of taking a nap or spending time in bed for the purpose of recuperating energy or recovering from exhaustion. It generally involves restorative sleep cycles. 

Resting essentially involves any position or activity that allows you to take it easy temporarily and refresh yourself without necessarily having to completely descend into a deep sleep. Spending quality time with a good book, meditating, listening to calming music, and going for a walk in nature fall under the umbrella of resting. 

It’s important to understand the differences between sleeping and resting in order to know when it is necessary to rest vs when more intense rejuvenation and contemplation are needed.

Restorative vs nonrestorative sleep

"Restorative sleep is the aspect of sleep associated with improved subjective alertness, cognitive function, mood, energy, and/or well being relative to the immediate pre-sleep period. "

(Dr. Rebecca Robbins et al, 2022)

When your body fully relaxes and enters a deep and restful state, it is considered restorative sleep. It repairs itself and prepares for upcoming activities. In this type of sleep, your heart rate slows down, breathing becomes more regular, and your body releases hormones that contribute to cell growth and stress relief. When you get restorative sleep you wake up feeling refreshed and energized, ready to take on whatever life throws your way.

Nonrestorative sleep occurs when you don’t reach those deeper stages of relaxation necessary for your body to repair itself while sleeping. It happens when you’re sleeping but not feeling rested.

Not practicing good sleeping habits can result in nonrestorative sleep. For example, not having a consistent bedtime routine, having too much screen time before bedtime, or even sleeping in a room that isn't properly temperature regulated. 

As a result, even if you get enough hours of shut-eye during the night, your body isn't able to use that time efficiently. Hence, you wake up feeling groggy and unrested, a sign that you're not getting restorative sleep. There are chances that you sleep for enough hours but feel tired after waking up.

“Focusing on sleep duration alone may miss the fact that some may sleep for an amount of time that is in the recommended range, but wake up not feeling restored by their sleep.”

Dr. Rebecca Robbins

What causes nonrestorative sleep?

Nonrestorative sleep can be a real problem, especially if it persists for long periods of time. There are many potential causes that could be to blame. 

Lifestyle factors

Several lifestyle factors can contribute to nonrestorative sleep. These include stress, drinking alcohol close to bedtime, drinking too much caffeine throughout the day, and not having a consistent sleep schedule. 

All of these factors can interfere with your body's natural circadian rhythm and disrupt your body's ability to rest properly at night. 

Additionally, if you're exposed to bright lights or electronic screens like TVs and computers late at night, this can also lead to nonrestorative sleep as these disrupt your natural production of melatonin (the hormone responsible for making us sleepy). 

Underlying health conditions 

Nonrestorative sleep can be caused by underlying health issues such as thyroid problems or anemia. In addition, certain medications used to treat depression and anxiety can sometimes cause difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night. 

If you’ve been diagnosed with any other medical conditions such as chronic pain or restless leg syndrome, they may also be contributing to your lack of restful sleep. Also, menopause can play a role in nonrestorative sleep due to fluctuating hormone levels during this time in life.

Nonrestorative sleep symptoms

Nonrestorative sleep can be a struggle to deal with, as its symptoms can really interfere with day-to-day life. The most common symptom of nonrestorative sleep is feeling tired during the day, even after a full night’s rest. 

Despite sleeping for an adequate amount of time, you find yourself struggling to stay alert or feeling fatigued throughout the day. This could be caused by anything from stress or anxiety to an underlying health condition such as insomnia or sleep apnea. 

Other symptoms include difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, waking up frequently during the night, and difficulty concentrating during the day due to fatigue or lack of energy.

You may also experience physical aches and pains throughout the day as a result of poor sleep quality. It’s important to note that these symptoms can vary in intensity depending on the individual and their unique circumstances. 

What happens when you don’t get enough restorative sleep?

When you don’t get sufficient restorative sleep, the consequences can be devastating. Nonrestorative sleep can lead to a range of physical and mental health issues. 

Physical consequences 

Sleeping for fewer than seven hours per night can lead to various health problems over time, including an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and a weakened immune system. 

A study from the Harvard School of Public Health reveals that the risk of diabetes increases if a person sleeps less than seven hours or more than nine hours regularly.

Lack of restorative sleep also affects your ability to concentrate and think clearly during the day. Inadequate sleep impairs cognitive performance in areas such as memory recall and information processing speed. 

Mental health consequences 

Not getting enough restorative sleep can increase your risk of developing mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Poor quality or insufficient sleep has been linked to an increased risk of suicide in adolescents and adults alike. 

Lack of sleep disrupts certain brain systems that are associated with mood regulation. Furthermore, a lack of restorative sleep can worsen existing mental health symptoms such as PTSD or OCD. 

How do you fix nonrestorative sleep?

Generally, if you’re struggling to fall asleep and experiencing disturbed sleep regularly, it’s challenging for you to stay asleep for eight hours. However, a few changes in your lifestyle and regular routine can help you to overcome this problem.

1. Keep a consistent sleep schedule 

One of the most effective ways to improve your chances of getting restful sleep is to maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends.

This will help regulate your body’s natural rhythm and make it easier for your body to transition into deep states of relaxation during the night. Additionally, avoid taking long naps during the day. Only take short naps if needed. This will ensure that when it comes time to go to bed at night, you’ll be nice and tired. 

2. Create an ideal sleeping environment 

The environment in which you sleep plays a large role in determining how well you’re able to rest each night. Make sure that your bedroom is kept dark, quiet, and on the cooler side as these elements all contribute to helping you drift off into slumberland more easily.

Furthermore, it’s important that all screens (such as laptops, phones, and televisions) are kept outside of the bedroom. Also, the blue light emitted from devices has been known to disrupt circadian rhythms and reduce melatonin production (a hormone responsible for regulating sleep).  

3. Avoid heavy meals before bedtime 

Eating before bedtime isn’t necessarily bad for your health as long as you stick to lighter meals or snacks. Having heavier meals close to bedtime can cause uncomfortable sensations such as heartburn or bloating which may keep you awake throughout the night. Therefore, it might be best to stick with smaller meals or light snacks if possible.  

4. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine intake  

Caffeine is one of the worst offenders when it comes to preventing restful sleep. This stimulant can stay active in your body for up to eight hours after consumption.

Similarly, alcohol may initially induce drowsiness but its effects wear off quickly, leading users back into states of wakefulness during the night. Nicotine is highly addictive but actually works against the body when trying to get some shut-eye due to its stimulating properties. As such, it would be good to avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine intake before bedtime altogether.  

5. Try yoga and meditation before bed 

Yoga and meditation have been proven effective at promoting relaxation and reducing stress levels. Those are two key elements in achieving quality restful sleep. 

As such, try starting off your nightly routine with some yoga poses or meditation sessions. This will help your mind and body have an improved sleeping experience.   

6. Talk to a therapist 

If none of these tips seem suitable, then perhaps speaking with a therapist could be better. They will help you to identify other underlying issues that might be causing disruptions in your nightly slumber cycle. A professional can advise you on other lifestyle changes that could ultimately lead to better quality restful nights ahead.

7. Eat a balanced diet 

Eating a balanced diet has been known to improve overall energy levels throughout daytime activities. It also positively affects our sleeping patterns, so eat nutritious foods regularly.  

Is non-REM sleep restorative?

The three stages of non-REM sleep are fundamental parts of restorative sleep. However, for those with underlying medical conditions, it can often be difficult to obtain even non-REM sleep. Sleep disorders like insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea can make nonrestorative sleep a much more common experience. 

For example, those with insomnia report more nonrestorative periods, which can lead to physical health and cognitive issues such as fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and memory problems. 

Non-REM sleep can only be properly restorative when it is obtained in the presence of conducive conditions that allow for relaxation and proper breathing. Those who do not receive the necessary amounts of restful non-REM can strive to create an optimal environment for this type of sleep in order to restore the vital and beneficial aspects associated with it.

Final thoughts

At the end of the day, it's important to make sure you're getting sufficient restful slumber every evening so you can wake up feeling energized in the morning. 

If you’re finding it hard to get over nonrestorative sleep, don’t worry, you’re not alone. A few lifestyle changes that we mentioned above can help you to achieve restorative sleep. You might also consider a mattress with restorative sleep technology that adapts to your movements and helps you reach deeper levels of sleep. Learn more about restorative sleep and check out the Bryte Balance smart mattress

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