Understanding the Causes of Interrupted Sleep and How to Improve Your Sleep Quality

Last updated: September 19th, 2023


Many people experience interrupted sleep, whether it’s due to a snoring partner, their own racing thoughts, or something else. It’s not only frustrating and makes it harder to enjoy a restful sleep, but it can also have implications on your overall health and wellbeing. If you’re regularly waking up during the night, it’s important to understand the underlying cause so that you can take measures to get a better night’s sleep.

How Does Being Woken Up Affect Your Sleep

Sleep quality is more important to overall wellbeing than the total amount of time slept. This is because the sleep cycle process is progressive. The brain cycles through the stages of sleep multiple times throughout the night, from light sleep to deep sleep to rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. The more REM you receive, the more your cognitive performance and emotional well-being is supported. During this sleep cycle, if the individual is awoken it generally takes them a little longer to achieve REM sleep again.

A study by the Mayo Clinic found that adults who frequently wake up during the night have a tendency to rate their overall sleep quality as poor, while those who enjoy uninterrupted sleep tend to think they sleep well. The study also found that people who are regularly awoken during the night are more likely to get shorter overall sleep times than those who sleep uninterrupted.

What Causes Interrupted Sleep

The Mayo Clinic report found that some of the most prevalent factors causing interrupted sleep were snoring and inflammation. Snoring in particular can affect a partner’s sleep quality, as they can be frequently awoken as you toss and turn during the night, or as your breathing becomes shallow or laboured. It is important to identify if snoring is the underlying cause of interrupted sleep so the right sleep solutions can be sought out.

In some cases, interrupted sleep can stem from the individual’s own thoughts, or other environmental factors. For instance, noise from the street, temperature fluctuations, or an uncomfortable mattress can all inhibit sleep and cause disruption. It is therefore helpful to identify any behaviors that are impacting your sleep quality, and make sure to create a tranquil sleep environment.

What Can You Do To Improve Your Sleep Quality

If interrupted sleep happens intermittently, you might not need to take any measures, as the body might adjust and the sleep quality may improve on its own. However, if you are struggling with disrupted sleep on a regular basis, you might need to take steps to ensure you are getting a restful sleep. Here are some tips:

  • Sleep with as few distractions as possible by creating a tranquil sleep environment. Make sure the bedroom is cool, dark, and free from noise.
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine to help you drift off naturally.
  • Control your sleep environment as much as possible. Reduce your intake of caffeine, nicotine, and other stimulants in the evening. Take time to wind down with a hot bath or light reading.
  • If snoring is interrupting your sleep, seek out anti-snoring treatments to help you (and your partner) get a better night's sleep.


If you are regularly awoken during the night, it is important to identify the cause so that you can take steps to rectify it. A lack of uninterrupted sleep can greatly impact overall health and wellbeing. Take the necessary precautions to ensure that your sleep quality improves so that you can receive the rest you need.

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