What is Microsleep?: Symptoms, Dangers & Treatment

In This Guide

Microsleep is a condition where you suddenly fall asleep for a couple of seconds without your knowledge. During the microsleep episode, you may have your eyes open and even look awake, while in fact, for those few seconds you are actually sleeping. The episodes of microsleep usually occur due to sleep deprivation and these episodes last for up to 15 seconds.

Microsleep: Things You Need to Know

Microsleeping, or the act of falling asleep for a few moments and it’s typically less than ten seconds and while you’re not consciously aware that it happens. It can have detrimental effects on your daily life. This blog post aims to provide you with information on microsleep and what you need to know about it. So what causes microsleep? There are many possible contributing factors including stress, anxiety and even pain. It’s also possible that you have another condition such as sleep apnea or narcolepsy.

A study published in the journal Sleep Medicine Reports suggests that sleep-deprived individuals are more likely to suffer from microsleep than other individuals taking part in a similar experiment while they were asleep.

Causes of Microsleep

Now, let’s take a closer look at the causes of microsleep. Sleep is vital for our body to function daily. It has the power to slow down the body’s natural functions and allows the brain to rest and recuperate from interrupted or unneeded work.

There are several causes of microsleep. These include:

  • Poor Sleep Habits – 

Lack of quality sleep can cause inadvertent microsleeps to occur. People who don’t get enough sleep often experience fatigue that makes them feel sleepy even when they are doing activities that are not considered tiring. This kind of sleepiness is called microsleep.

  • Stress – 

Stress is known to cause microsleep. Stress can cause a person to feel tired even when they are not really tired. A person who feels like they are going to fall asleep while talking on the phone or watching TV may just be experiencing such feeling.

  • Drugs – 

Certain drugs, including some painkillers and muscle relaxers, may also cause it. This is because these drugs lower the body’s ability to produce or maintain sleep-inducing chemicals responsible for maintaining a deeper level of sleep.

  • Alcohol – 

Heavy alcohol intake can also cause microsleep. It’s a common belief that alcohol use will cause someone to sleep for an extended period of time and not wake up for hours. However, when it comes to consuming alcohol, the body is still able to stay awake since it will fall into the REM sleep phase. This causes people to feel sleepy even if they are fast asleep or drowsy.

  • Sleep Disorders – 

Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome are known causes. These conditions can cause excessive muscle activity that disturbs deep sleep causing lapses in attention and wakefulness.

Microsleep Symptoms

The various Microsleep Symptoms include:

  • Dozing off without realizing it
  • Easily distracted
  • Racing thoughts in your head
  • Not being able to focus on one thing at a time 
  • Being forgetful, like you can’t remember where you left your keys or the last few steps of what you are doing. 
  • Falling asleep at odd times during the day and night, even when trying to work Weight loss and puffy eyes.
  • Being easily distracted and easily falling into a trance

Microsleep Dangers

While “microsleep” is only considered dangerous when there are long bouts of it, even small episodes can be harmful. In fact, your risk for injury increases as you spend more time asleep.

Here are some ways that microsleep can put you at risk:

  • Driving: 

If you have driven a car before, then you know concentration is the key here. However, it’s worth noting that the occasional microsleep episode may be more dangerous than you think. Its episodes can last for a short time but cause significant lapses in alertness, attention and performance. 

  • Home: 

Some people think of home as a safe place to pass out, but this isn’t always the case. Being in a home with dangerous elements (electricity, gas leaks, gas stoves, etc.) can be just as dangerous as being on the road if you sleep unknowingly. 

How to Avoid Microsleep?

The various ways to avoid microsleep include:

  • Have some caffeine: 

It can help prevent microsleep as it has been found to positively affect the level of wakefulness. 

  • Stay active: 

The more activities you have scheduled for a day, the less likely you are to experience microsleep.

  • Exercise regularly: 

Try something that will ensure that your body is physically healthy and not just your mind. Exercise every day between 30–45 minutes a day and it can also help relieve stress which makes a person more alert and less likely to need sleep.

  • Turn up the tunes: 

When you’re feeling light sleepy, it can help to turn on some music with a strong beat. The more rigorous the beat is, the more likely you are to stay awake.

  • Get plenty of sleep: 

It is commonly believed that people should get between 6–8 hours of sleep a night. However, this depends on your age and how much sleep you need to function after a day at work.

  • Have a lively conversation: 

When you’re sleepy, a chat or discussion with another person can help keep you awake. You can discuss topics that are interesting to you or just chat about the weather. But, it is important to stay focused while doing this.

  • Play a game: 

Playing with someone can be fun and engaging. Concentrating on the game will keep your mind awake and away from sleep.

  • Take a break: 

If you are feeling sleepy or can no longer concentrate, you should take a short break from your activities.

  • Eating well: 

Feeling hungry can make you feel sleepy, so it is important to make sure that you eat at the right times of day and don’t skip meals.

  • Preferably, avoid screen time: 

Depending on what kind of screen time you do, it may make you more likely to sleep or not at all. If possible, try to limit yourself to one hour before bedtime.

Finally, if you are unable to get rid of your microsleep episodes, visiting a doctor is mandatory.

Microsleep Treatment

Microsleeps are usually caused by obstructions in airflow and oxygen, which would try to wake the person up if it lasts for more than 30 seconds. They are often found in people who have narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea, or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). The most common symptom of microsleeps is falling asleep while eating, reading, watching TV or driving.

Its treatment is to make sure someone is getting enough rest. Microsleeps are usually not a problem if they last for only a few seconds or minutes, but can be dangerous if it lasts for more than 30-40 seconds. The best thing to do is get enough sleep and ensure that the environment the person is in doesn’t aggravate the microsleeps. For example, narcoleptics should avoid places that are noisy or have bright lighting.

When to Consult a Doctor in case of Micro sleeping?

If you’re worried that you’ve been experiencing microsleeps on a regular basis, then consulting your doctor may be the best course of action. This condition causes brief episodes, generally no longer than 10 seconds, in which your brain temporarily shuts down. You might not realize this is happening because these episodes are so short and only happen sporadically over time. However, microsleeps are a real condition that can be caused by, but is not limited to, several different medical conditions.

Why Is Sleep Important For Your Health?

Lack of sleep can cause abnormalities in human sleep due to a lack of energy, irritability, and mood changes which can lead to more serious conditions such as depression or anxiety disorders. Prolonged sleep deprivation can also lead to a higher risk for deadly conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity. Proper sleep will not just keep you energized, but it is also essential because:

  • Sleep is important for your memory.
  • Sleep is important for your learning and language development.
  • Sleep helps develop a stronger immune system.
  • It has been shown that sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain or an increase in depression risk and that it also can contribute to heart disease risk because we’re not getting the sleep our bodies need to stay healthy and function properly.
  • Sleep also makes it easier for the body to burn calories throughout the day because the body’s hormones and physical activity increase while we sleep.
  • When you don’t get enough sleep, you may have trouble concentrating on tasks that require a lot of brainpower such as reading or studying.
  • Brain studies have shown that portions of our brains that are responsible for learning and pattern recognition become more active when we sleep. Sleep allows our brains to consolidate new information into long term memory.

It is a state of severely lowered consciousness characterized by a lapse in attention and wakefulness. It’s not quite the same as sleep and not just inattentiveness. It’s also different from sleep apnea, which is a more serious condition that manifests with repetitive pauses of breathing during sleep. It is possible that this condition may be caused by sleep deprivation. So, make sure you prioritize your sleep and if the symptoms continue, visit your healthcare practice immediately. 

FAQs

No, micro sleeping is not good. Microsleeps are short wakeful periods lasting 5-15 seconds, which occur in the transition between sleep and waking. Microsleeps can last for hours or days, but they’re usually not aware of them unless they’re woken up by someone else.

Microsleep is the brain’s sleep response to being awake for too long or from being too tired. Symptoms of microsleep include dizziness, headaches, and a “blank” look in your eyes. In order to avoid these symptoms, you can either go through the proper steps of going to sleep or take certain steps that will prevent micro sleeping.

An anchored rest plan is one where a few hours of rest will consistently cover each night, whether or not it is a typical business day. This anchor point keeps up with consistency in any event when timetables change.

Microsleep is a bout of unconsciousness that occurs when you are in an extremely deep sleep. The extreme levels of delta brainwaves and lack of arousal often make microsleep difficult to predict or control, leading to decreased alertness and awareness.

Aside from causing all kinds of havoc, those who suffer from microsleep are also prone to experiencing sleepiness. It is one of the most common effects caused by microsleep. A person suffering from microsleep has a hard time staying awake, especially during working hours that involve talking or driving. A person experiencing this also feels sleepy even when they are not actually tired.

It is important to stay up-to-date on the latest research, learn about all your different treatment options and develop a plan of action tailored to your symptoms and personality. These can be things like learning how to find relief through different types of therapy (cognitive behavioural therapy, relaxation therapy, hypnosis), practising various forms of mindfulness meditation or working out with a trainer once every other week. And most important, speak with a doctor.

A power nap is a quick 15-20 minutes nap that you take when you feel too sleepy or tired. 

Since many of us don’t get enough sleep every day, you can make it up by sleeping a few hours extra during the weekends to avoid sleep deprivation. 

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