Microsleep refers to the condition where an individual experiences uncontrolled, short periods of sleep. These fleeting, transient bursts of sleep last from a few to several seconds. It is a situation that people experience without even knowing that it happened.
Microsleep can occur almost anywhere. For example, people may doze off for minute seconds at work, at school, or while watching TV. However, the real danger lies if you fall asleep, even momentarily during driving or operating some risky equipment or machinery etc.
Microsleep usually occurs if a person fights sleep and tries to remain awake. Your eyelids start drooping and your brain goes to sleep involuntarily. You fall asleep for a few seconds and wake up with a sudden head jerk.
This respective article discusses the common signs, causes, dangers, and preventive measures regarding Microsleep.
What causes Microsleep?
The leading contributor to Microsleep is “Sleep deprivation.” Lack of sleep is the greatest risk factor for Microsleep. People who don’t get enough amount of sleep due to various reasons usually fall victim to Microsleep. These people include insomniacs or people who work late at night or who have a disturbed sleep-wake cycle due to their lifestyle etc.
Sleeping disorders also contribute to the situation. These disorders may include,
- Obstructive sleep apnea
During the former disease, your airways are blocked thus interrupting your breathing while sleeping. Resultantly, your brain doesn’t receive enough oxygen which leads to daytime sleepiness. The latter one causes extreme daytime tiredness and broken, disorderly episodes of falling asleep.
The exact cause of Microsleep isn’t completely known yet. However, experts believe that this condition arises when half of our brain falls asleep while other parts of the brain remain awake.
In a study conducted during 2011, researchers employed lab rats and kept them awake for an extensive period of time. Probes were inserted into the neurons of the rats. These probes affected the motor cortex. Researchers used an electroencephalogram (EEG) to record the rats’ brain’s electrical activity.
The EEG results indicated that the sleep-deprived rats were fully awake, however; the probes revealed areas of local sleep. The results of the study led the researchers to draw a concept that humans can experience brief episodes of local sleep in the brain while appearing awake.
Dangers associating with Sleep deprivation?
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that 16.5 percent of fatal crashes on the roadways occur due to a sleepy or drowsy driver. In addition, sleep deprivation can impair your judgment and alleviate your reaction time while driving.
Moreover, a lack of sleep leads to various health hazardous condition including,
- Heart attack
- Heart failures
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heart beat
Lack of sleep is also linked with lack of sex drive. Sleep experts suggest that people with a disturbed sleeping schedule have lower libidos. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism during 2002 revealed that men suffering with sleep apnea secrete abnormally low levels of testosterone at night.
Lack of sleep also causes depression and a constant state of irritability. It also ages your skin before time. Sleep deprivation is also linked to an increase in weight.
Warning signs indicating Microsleep
Microsleep is difficult to identify. People may fall asleep while their eyes have just starting to close. Warning signs or symptoms associating Microsleep include,
- Sudden body jerks
- Not being able to respond properly
- Staring blank and dropping your head
- Unable to remember the last one or two minutes
- Blinking slowly
- Inability to keep eyes open
- Excessive yawning
- Constantly blinking to stay awake
When are you most likely to fall Microsleep?
People usually experience episodes of Microsleep during early morning hours and late at night. However, these transient episodes of sleep aren’t limited to these times specifically. They can happen anytime you’re sleep-deprived.
Sleep deprivation can be a chronic or acute condition which often results in conditions including excessive daytime sleepiness, irritability, poor mental or physical performance in daily activities, forgetfulness or poor memory etc. Lack of sleep is also linked to various health hazardous conditions like high blood pressure, obesity, and heart attacks.
Treatments for Microsleep
Getting enough sleep is the key treatment to Microsleep. For adults, a healthy amount of sleep ranges from seven to nine hours. You must adjust your lifestyle in some healthy manner and maintain a sound sleep routine to fix this problem. Following are some instructions for an improved quality of sleep.
Try not to drink caffeine-containing liquids before bed and avoid stimulating activities as well.
Don’t consume alcohol, especially if you’re already tired
Turn off any lights or sounds near you while going to sleep and keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature.
Operate a vehicle only when you’re feeling alert. Try to drive with a companion so that if you feel drowsy you can rest while the other person drives. Heavy eyelids, repeated yawning, drifting out of your lane, and missing exits indicate dangers of Microsleep during driving. You need to engage your mind in order to keep it alert. A fast tempo music cassette or audiobook can serve the purpose.
If you’re at work and are feeling drowsy, try to avoid operating any kind of equipment or machinery because this can lead to an accident or injury. Try to take part in discussions for an alert and attentive mind. Get up from your chair or desk, stretch your legs, have some tea or coffee. Tea or coffee contains caffeine i.e. a stimulant to your brain. However, you shouldn’t rely on caffeine on a regular basis and try to overcome your fatigue by beating your unhealthy sleeping habits.