Sleeping is a vital part of everyday life. Studies continue to show that the amount of sleep we get at night greatly affects our health both physically and mentally. We’ve all experience those nights where sleeping just doesn’t seem possible. The nights that we severely lack in the sleeping category usually mean nothing other than a sluggish, slow, and low-energy day that seems to drag on forever. When we are tired, the lack of energy usually is evidenced by poor concentration and perception. When a lack of sleep that results in day-time sleepiness occurs on a regular basis, the affects can be lethal not only for you but those around you.

Fragmented sleep occurs when someone wakes up at various times throughout the night, preventing the body or the brain to get the amount of rest that it needs. It also prevents the sleeper from entering the phase of sleep known as REM Sleep. REM sleep is a level of deep sleep where the body is entirely relaxed and our minds often dream. REM sleep is also a time when physical restoration generally takes place. People who wake up constantly throughout the night and never enter REM sleep often feel tired, sleepy, and fatigued the next day. Fragmented sleep is also to blame for a lack of concentration as well as productivity. An on-the-job worker who is tired and suffering from low productivity is also a potential safety hazard. Being sleepy on the job is extremely dangerous and can, and certainly has, lead to preventable deaths.

So who is most at risk for the effects of fragmented sleep? Those who work night shifts, long shifts, and continuously changing shifts are at the highest risk. Jobs such as machinery operators, truck drivers, pilots, air traffic controllers, police officers, and others are at the highest risk of being victims of fragmented sleep. Jobs such as these are prone to be made up of workers who may lapse into what is known as microsleep. Microsleep occurs when the body literally falls asleep for no longer than 30 seconds. However, we all know that anything can happen in 30 seconds.

In fact, the number of sleepy workers has grown so much and become so problematic that various states, including New Jersey, have enacted laws that allow someone who is sleep-deprived to legally be charged with reckless driving and other crimes such as vehicular homicide; the same sentences given to drunk drivers. The New Jersey law known as Maggie’s Law was put into action after a young woman named Maggie McDonald was struck by another driver who fell asleep at the wheel, killing her instantly.

How can fragmented sleep be avoided? The best way to avoid fragmented sleep is to ensure that you are getting the proper amount of sleep each night. This may require a job change if shift-work is the cause of your fragmented sleep cycle, but it’s also important to be tested for any type of sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can make sleeping at night much more complicated than it should be, and is also known to cause daytime sleepiness. Sleep apnea can only be diagnosed by a sleep physician though a sleep dentist can be consulted for proper sleep apnea treatment. Contact us today!