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Non Restorative Sleep – How Serious Is This Common Sleep Disorder


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December 5, 2022

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Non Restorative Sleep – Since time immemorial, sleep has been considered one of the most valuable necessities of a human being. During sleep, the body goes through a restorative state wherein the immune system, cardiovascular system, and even the organ systems are revitalized – and there are numerous clinical studies to back this up.

However, not all sleep results to a refreshing and invigorating rise. Insomnia patients, for instance, either find it hard to get a good night’s sleep or wake up to various sleep disturbances. That, in turn, gives insomnia patients low sleep quality, chronic fatigue, daytime sleepiness, or beginnings of other sleep disorders.

What Is Non Restorative Sleep

To make things simpler: It is poor sleep. Millions of people suffer from Non Restorative Sleep or NRS. However, it is not always taken seriously in healthcare as it has no formal diagnostic category. In this article, we delve into the real meaning of non-restorative sleep, its symptoms, and how you can avoid it.

Non Restorative Sleep Definition

If you suspect yourself to have sleep problems, the best way to treat it is to educate yourself about the non restorative sleep definition. Non-Restorative Sleep or NRS is the result of an unrefreshing sleep despite getting the recommended hours of a night’s sleep. NRS is a side effect of medical issues such as chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.

NRS has initially been recognized as one of the insomnia symptoms. However, recent studies show that it is present and prevalent in patients who do not experience other sleep disorders. NRS has its medical symptoms but does not have its assessment instrument. That called for the establishment of the Nonrestorative Sleep Scale or NRSS, a questionnaire-like form that helps gauge the severity of patients’ NRS.

Most people may mistake NRS with insomnia. However, although NRS may be present among patients with insomnia, they are different from each other. With insomnia, deep sleep does not come easy, and it ends up messing up your body’s natural circadian rhythm. With NRS, on the other hand, it is not about the quantity of a night’s sleep but the fatigue you feel the next day regardless of the number of hours you’ve slept.

NRS is known to be caused by sleep homeostasis, an irregularity on how your body regulates sleep. While patients suffering from other sleep disorders may experience NRS simultaneously, the chronic pain and fatigue that comes from the latter do not stem from the former. In fact, a clinical trial published in 2013 proves that sleep medicine for insomnia does not relieve the pain that originates from NRS.

Non Restorative Sleep Symptoms

There are varied non restorative sleep symptoms that patients experience. One of the manifestations of Non-Restorative Sleep or NRS is fibromyalgia. Although not a direct sign, older adults who struggle with fibromyalgia often experience widespread pain even after a night’s sleep. These patients also have a hard time reaching REM sleep and slow-wave sleep because of the pain.

As a result, the cruel cycle of chronic pain and NRS comes into play.

Patients, who deal with other disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea, sleep-related breathing disorders, and insomnia, often lean on to the idea of compensating poor sleep with good sleep hygiene. However, if these disorders, as well as fibromyalgia, persist, the body becomes unable to restore itself to a better state leading to more pain and fatigue.

Aside from fibromyalgia, most studies about NRS point to sleep deprivation as one of the most common non restorative sleep symptoms. Poor sleep hygiene coupled with an irregular sleep schedule is a typical prelude to sleep disorders and mental health problems such as suicidal ideation. It is no surprise that it qualifies as a symptom of NRS.

Other risk factors also include insomnia, stress and depression, use of stimulants and drugs, overuse of over-the-counter sleep aids and other medication, GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, and restless legs syndrome. Studies also find that a sedentary routine with zero to no exercise and poor diet can also result to NRS.

Non Restorative Sleep Disorder

Non restorative sleep disorder is unlike other sleep disorders. Sleep apnea, for example, is a type of sleep-disordered breathing which deprives a person of the natural flow of oxygen during sleep. Non restorative sleep disorder, on the other hand, is a form of disordered sleep. That means a person can reach REM sleep but still experiences body pain the next day. Both disorders can exist at the same time, but medicine for sleep apnea cannot treat the pain caused by NRS.

There is a wide range of sleep disorders that it would not be scientifically correct to put them all in one category. Insomnia and sleep insomnia, according to verified studies, maybe two of the leading sleep disorders in the world, but their symptoms are not the same as NRS. Most disorders are a question of the quantity of sleep; NRS is a question of the quality of sleep.

NRS patients have no trouble falling asleep. However, they do not feel refreshed or restored regardless of the quantity of their sleep. The restorative effects that rest are supposed to give their bodies do not come through. Moreover, unlike insomnia, non restorative sleep disorder probable symptoms include age, educational attainment, and income, according to a sleep study.

A current study that took on healthy volunteers from seven European countries concludes that 11 percent of 25,580 people struggle with non restorative sleep disorder along with sleep apnea and insomnia. Studies also show that NRS patients are more likely to experience mental fatigue, restless legs, and physical pain. A population-based study also resolves that people who struggle with NRS are three times more likely to have emotional instability (depression, irritability, mood swings), decision-making and memory problems, and decreased productivity.

Non Restorative Sleep Treatment

Is there a non restorative sleep treatment? Some studies point to various therapies and medications that are directly linked to sleep disorders to be possible remedies.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, which is used to treat both insomnia and fibromyalgia, can be used to address the inability to fall asleep. However, various studies state that it is difficult to prove if it can also improve the quality of sleep among NRS patients. Sleep medicine for central sleep apnea also only helps produce deep sleep but does not focus on the pain.

Surprisingly, the most effective non restorative sleep treatment can be achieved merely by maintaining good sleep hygiene. Habits such as caffeine intake and excessive mobile phone use can be gradually changed to get the full effect of restorative sleep. Exercising for 30 minutes at least two times a week can significantly lessen your chances of having poor sleep quality. Moreover, eliminating your dependency on alcohol, nicotine, and other over-the-counter sleep medications can help you reach a more natural deep sleep.

A good sleep works wonders to the body. By practicing a healthy routine that results in a restorative sleep, you can effectively get rid of the side effects of NRS and greatly improve your way of life.

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