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Sleep Disorders

Fragmented Sleep

01/21/2010

Question:

I was diagnosed with fragmented sleep many years ago (over 10) while undergoing a test for OSA which was negative but was told at that time that there was "nothing to be done" about it. Now my personal trainer tells me that it is likely that my my attempts at weight loss are being hampered because I`m not getting enough restorative sleep due to the fragmenting. Am wondering if there are any new/newish ideas for minimizing/alleviating fragmented sleep. Have tried numerous mental health meds but each one only works for a few days if at all. Ideas?

Answer:

Thank you for using NetWellness. Fragmented sleep has many causes. I think you need a comprehensive review in the office by a sleep physician. It may be appropriate that you see someone different so as to get a second opinion. You may also be best served by going to your local university/academic center.

In the office the physician will review your medical history and complete a full physical examination. This will help determine the cause of your problem.

Some causes of fragmented sleep include:

Sleep disordered breathing (e.g. obstructive sleep apnea - OSA)

Insomnia (with many possible underlying causes e.g. sleep disordered breathing, narcolepsy, general medical problems - see below, prescription medications, nutraceuticals, alcohol, illicit drugs, poor sleep hygiene)

Chronic pain syndromes (e.g. fibromyalgia)

General medical problems (e.g... nighttime seizures, anxiety, depression, diabetes, asthma, reflux)

Uncomfortable bedroom environment (i.e. too hot or cold)

Environmental noise (e.g pets, babies)

Your personal trainer is correct that chronic sleep deprivation via sleep fragmentation limits weight loss. This is due to chronic daytime fatigue that hampers exercise efforts. In addition, there are certain hormonal imbalances with sleep deprivation that result in an increased appetite.

With regards to your previous sleep study it certainly could have been a negative study, however, it may have been a false negative test. Some factors that influence the effectiveness of sleep studies include:

I am uncertain of your gender and age. These factors also have bearing with regards to the onset of OSA. It is also very common that patients gain weight over a few years and after having a repeat sleep study it is established that OSA is present.

So as you can see there are so many variables that could result in sleep fragmentation. I therefore encourage you to seek expert help from a Sleep Physician in your area. Once again thank you for using NetWellness. Good luck!

For more information:

Go to the Sleep Disorders health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Steven  Kadiev, MBBCh Steven Kadiev, MBBCh
Formerly:
Assistant Professor
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University