What You Should Know About Microsleep

What You Should Know About Microsleep

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Last Updated on Mar 03, 2023

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    Has it ever happened to you that you are doing a mundane activity, like watching television after work and you jerk awake a couple of times? Or you were probably driving and a loud honk breaks your stupor? This is known as microsleep. But what is microsleep? Are there any dangers associated with this condition? Well, we bring you all the information right here. Just read ahead to know everything about micro naps and microsleep meaning.

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    What Is Microsleep?

    You must have come across stories where drivers fall asleep behind the wheel. It can be only for a fraction of a second when they unknowingly drift into a state of sleep, which can be immensely dangerous. This is micro sleep. 

    Microsleep definition: Basically, microsleep is when a person unknowingly experiences small bouts of sleep lasting less than 30 seconds. If you suffer from microsleep disorder, it can occur anytime, even when driving or in a meeting. Some of the most common reasons why you may experience micro naps are;

    Why Do Microsleep Episodes Happen?

    Microsleep is a condition that occurs without any warning. So, let’s take a look at the common micro sleep causes. 

    Sleepiness

    One of the main triggers of a microsleep episode is sleep deprivation. When you don’t get enough sleep at night, you may experience extreme drowsiness. Therefore, looking for any sleep deprivation symptoms, such as microsleep, is essential. People who have a consistent bedtime sleep routine and go through sleeplessness are more prone to microsleep episodes. 

    Shift Work

    When you work rotational shifts, you may not get the required daily sleep. Your new sleep patterns may confuse your circadian rhythm and can make it difficult for you to fall asleep. In fact, as per research, people who work evening and night shifts are more prone to mistakes at work and even accidents. It was also seen in another study that night shifts can slower the reaction time. 

    Sleep Disorders and Medications

    Certain drugs, such as sleep medication can induce drowsiness once you wake up and can put you at risk of microsleep. Also, microsleep can be a symptom of certain sleep disorders, such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and narcolepsy. 

    Boredom and Normal Circadian Slumps

    When performing boring tasks that take a repetitive routine can lead to drowsiness and even microsleep. These tasks include long drives, riding on a plane or train, and even stationary work. It can occur even after a good night’s rest because circadian rhythm may dip down at certain times during the day, such as in the afternoon.

    Microsleep and Sleep Deprivation

    As aforementioned, one of the main reasons for microsleep is sleep deprivation. According to one study, it was seen that people who were getting less than 90 minutes of sleep each night were more likely to experience microsleep episodes. And people who regularly work in shifts are more at risk. It was also seen that when you sleep for less than four hours, you may experience an episode of microsleep. 

    Prevention and Treatment of Microsleep

    As you already know, sleep deprivation is the main culprit of microsleep. Therefore, you must sleep for at least 7-8 hours every night. You must also ensure that you take extra precautions when you are driving between states. Just a 30-minute power nap can be helpful when you feel a sense of drowsiness takes over. Or you can rely on caffeine to enhance alertness. However, don’t overdo it. 

    You can also do a few things to ensure you enjoy complete rest at night. They are;

    • Don’t consume caffeine in the evening as it can interfere with your sleep by blocking the sleep receptors.  
    • Create a comfortable sleep environment with an ideal room temperature, which is between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also close the blinds and keep the room dark as too much light can interfere with your circadian rhythm.
    • Avoid other stimulants before bed. 

    Prevention and Treatment of Microsleep

    The word futon actually means ‘round cushions made with leaves or flower fillings’ and if you see the structure of a futon it pretty much explains it. ‘Futon’ is also a Japanese word for bed.

    The world came to know about futon in the early 1900s while it has been a part of the Japanese lifestyle for centuries. If you ever get to visit a Japanese home you won’t find a bed in their house and that is because their beds or futons are kept folded and tucked into a large closet when not in use. The beauty about using a futon is you can arrange it anywhere in the house, whenever you need it.

    This bedding is usually placed on the ground without a bed frame. Hence the padding has to be a bit fluffy to support your back while you sleep on it.

    When to Talk to Your Doctor

    Is microsleep dangerous? Yes. Therefore, if you notice short bouts of sleep, you must speak with your doctor. Your healthcare practitioner will be able to diagnose the condition's root cause and help you with the right treatment plan. Simultaneously, you can adjust your sleep schedule and see how it works for you. 

    Microsleep is a condition where you tend to fall asleep without warning. It occurs only for a few seconds and you are usually unaware. To avoid this condition, you must enjoy healthy sleep every night.

    This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.
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