We all lose sleep from time to time, and no one ever likes to do so. For most of us, it is a rare event to lose an entire night’s it may happen perhaps when a baby is born in the middle of the night, or when we make an intercontinental flight. Then, the next night, we sleep long and heavily, though it usually takes another two nights to feel really back to normal. There are many reasons like this, lets discover what causes lack of sleep at night.
Much commoner is a partial loss of a night’s sleep. Again it may be a consequence of our activities: travel, possibly, or a social gathering.
The gathering may be a hectic occasion, but not necessarily a worrying one. Most of us expect to lose sleep from time to time for one of these reasons.
What causes lack of sleep
What one of us likes is to be awake most of the night because of a sudden new worry or personal problem in life.
There can be few things as frustrating as when some unexpected anxiety keeps you fitfully tossing and turning on a night when you feel you really need a good night’s sleep to face the day ahead.
Equally disconcerting is waking in the small hours and finding yourself beginning to turn daytime problems over in your mind.
Before you know it, you feel wide awake, and anxiety about not being able to get back to sleep only makes things worse.
The presence of a peacefully sleeping partner may well make you feel even more acutely conscious of being awake.
We shall be giving you some suggestions for getting to sleep, and keeping your loss of sleep to a minimum, but more than likely your problem may rapidly resolve itself and you will soon have the opportunity to catch up on what sleep was lost.
It is reassuring to know that catching up on sleep was lost.
It is reassuring to know that catching up on sleep after accumulating an ‘overdraft’ seems to be a fact of life.
In one research study, diaries of hours of sleep kept by students showed that many of them worked or played late into the night and yet had to get up early in the morning on weekdays, but that at week-ends they were able to catch up by sleeping some fourteen hours at a stretch.
Babies and young children
For many of you partial loss of a night’s sleep is a recurrent burden, almost the routine for years.
If you are the mother of a small baby and have slightly older children who may also demand attention in the night, you may know what it is to feel that you never get enough sleep.
The problem arises because of the immaturity of a new-born baby’s biological clock, the baby’s lack of social conditioning, and, of course, its need for frequent and regular feeding.
Over many millions of years, we evolved in a world in which light and dark came and went every twenty-four hours and even in the new-born baby there is a circadian rhythm that makes it fall asleep more easily at some times of the twenty-four hours than at others.
However, the times when it wakes and sleeps are more determined by the shorter ultrafine rhythm, which in the baby does not occur in 100, minute cycles, as in adults, but in roughly 50-minute ones.
The baby sleeps, and then after two, there or f our multiples of 50 minutes, it wakes and yells for food. If it does so by day when its parents are up and about, it is likely to receive a lot more social stimulation than if it wakes in the night.
Under the influence of these social pressures, the infant soon learns to conform to the same 24-hour pattern as the adults around it and to do most of its sleeping at night.
Wakeful babies are a common cause of lost sleep for parents. Many babies simply need less sleep than average.
As at any age, there are big individual differences in the total duration of sleep, but the average baby takes about 14 hours of sleep out of the 24 hours in its first weeks of life, but after a year or two amount of sleep they need, and since some babies need less than others, it is inevitable that quite a lot of young couples will think that their particular baby is the world’s worst sleeper, because it only wants about 8 or 9 hours, or even less.
However little sleep your baby needs, there are things you can try in order to cut down both the time it is awake at night and your own sleep loss to a minimum, although it’s often the case that nothing you do will make a difference to how much your baby sleeps.
Most wakeful babies are just inherently short sleepers, so there’s no need to feel guilty or inadequate as a parent if all your efforts go unrewarded.
Many parents, however, find that attending promptly to their baby’s persistent crying, even if it is not due for a feed, makes the baby quicker to settle, and so reduces the time they spend awake.
Nowadays babies are often put in separate rooms. To be alone and in the dark can awaken primitive fears, which are more likely to make an infant cry and demand the attention of its parents.
This does not mean a child is in need of disciplining, though if the baby is always rewarded by being taken into the parental bed whenever it cries at night, it may eventually learn to cry in order to achieve the invariable reward.
Babies, though, need cuddles and security rather than a disciplinary code. It is up to you to work out a routine that suits you and your baby.
Careful juggling of feeding times, perhaps so the baby is fed at the time you go to bed rather than two hours later, can also cut down the amount of time out is up to during the night.
A warm, loved and well-fed baby in a clean nappy or diaper usually sleeps well between feeds, but all mothers and fathers can expect to have the occasional bad night.
If left to cope alone with the baby, the effect of several bad nights in a row can make mothers irritable. At times like these, the father’s support is especially important.
He can help to bring things back to normal by taking on night duty for a few nights over the weekend, perhaps- thus giving the mother a chance to catch up on her sleep.
It is not just babies that cause parents to lose sleep; it can be older children as well. A doctor in Edinburgh, Dr. Ronald Seiler, asked the parents of 250 children aged under six years, all in his local practice, whether their child was or had been an asleep problem to practice, whether their child was or had been an asleep problem to them on account of wakefulness, restlessness or night fears.
No less than 40 percent of parents regarded their children as having caused hem sleep problems, which means that children’s sleep that brings about worry and exhaustion for the parents is so common as to be well within the range of normal.
The comforting thing that Dr. Seiler discovered was that once past the fourth birthday, most children ceased to cause problems for their parents during the night.
Here on the horizon for most parents of small infants! Even more, parents can look forward to those times when, in late adolescence, it will be difficult to get their offspring to wake up.
Junior hospital doctors work long hours, are often ‘on-call’ for most of their supposed rest time, and liable to have to get out of bed more than once in the middle of any night.
Many feel an intense sense of responsibility for their sick patients that drives them to visit then wards when they might be having a little time off.
Yet other people suffer worries and adversities that are sustained, and that does not go away, over periods of many months or even years.
The sources of worry may be in their environment, or within themselves, perhaps arising from a period of mental ill-health. We will be considering their long-term sleep problems, and others, which have a more specific physical cause, in the next chapter, Insomnia.
More content related to sleep:
- Causes of sleep disturbance and solution
- 18 Golden Rules for Better Sleep
- How does food affect sleep
- How weight affects your sleep quality?
- Common side effects of sleeping pills
- Common sleeping medicine/drugs that can make you sleep
- Drugs that keep you awake at night
- How does insomnia affect your life?
- Causes of insomnia and how to cope with insomnia
- Who is most likely to suffer from insomnia?
- What is sleep insomnia?
- How to get better sleep naturally?
- How does sleep deprivation affect you?
- What causes sleepwalking and talking?
- What happens when we dream?
- Types and the stages of sleep
- Various methods of sleep measurement
- How hormones affect sleep quality?
- What happens as we fall asleep?
- How Do We Fall Asleep?