Why Do I Suddenly Sleep Less?

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Most adults need an 8-hour sleep every day to function properly in their daily lives. So, if you’re sleeping only 4-5 hours or less, you should investigate this further as it could be insomnia or any other sleep disorder or medical condition. However, sometimes, this is due to short-term insomnia that goes away on its own. But you should visit a sleep clinic Damascus MD for diagnosis. Below are the common reasons you’re sleeping less than usual.

Short-Term Insomnia

It’s a type of insomnia in which you have difficulty falling asleep or sleeping enough for less than three months. It has other names like acute insomnia and adjustment insomnia. With insomnia, you may experience daytime sleepiness, concentration problems, slowed reflexes, and mood changes.

Short-term insomnia is common and about 15-20% of Americans have it. It can be caused by factors like:

  • Losing a loved one
  • Divorce
  • Losing a job
  • A change in work/sleep routine
  • Diagnosis of a life-threatening illness
  • Medications that affect sleep
  • Caffeine or nicotine usage
  • Withdrawal from drugs or alcohol
  • Sleep environment issues like uncomfortable temperature, lighting, or noise
  • Mental health disorders like anxiety and depression
  • Other health conditions
  • Eating a heavy meal before sleeping
  • Usage of smartphones, laptops, or similar devices just before sleeping

As its name suggests, short-term insomnia is for short-term. Patients get better and start getting normal sleep in some time. However, if your symptoms don’t go away in three months, you should consult a doctor. In many cases, it’s better to get help in the first month of insomnia so it doesn’t become a bigger problem later.

Chronic Insomnia

Insomnia that lasts for more than three months is considered chronic insomnia. Its causes are also the same as short-term insomnia, but they also include other sleep disorders like sleep apnea, narcolepsy, restless legs syndrome, REM sleep behavior disorder, and others. We will discuss them more in this guide.

Chronic insomnia can last for long and cause sleep deprivation. With this, you may experience daytime sleepiness, obesity, anxiety, depression, hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, heart attack, diabetes, and other complications.

Therefore, its treatment is critical. Going to a sleep doctor for diagnosis should be the first step. After the diagnosis, the doctor may recommend treatments.

Treatments For Chronic Insomnia

Correct diagnosis is important for finding the cause of insomnia. For example, if it’s due to restless legs syndrome, that sleep disorder should be treated instead of only using sleeping pills.

CBT For Insomnia

This type of cognitive behavioral therapy is for insomniacs. You can control negative thoughts or emotions that might be keeping you from falling asleep. Worrying about getting sleep is a problem for most people with insomnia. CBT can also help you reduce this thought so you can fall asleep in a better manner.

There are different types of strategies employed in CBT for insomnia and they prove to be more helpful for many people than insomnia medication.

Prescription Medication

Your doctor may prescribe you medication to fall asleep or stay asleep for the required amount of time. They are effective, but given their risks, sleeping pills are not advised to be taken for the long term. The decision should be made by your sleep specialist by weighing the benefits and drawbacks of the medication before the prescription.

There are some medications that don’t require a prescription and are used for insomnia like antihistamines (they are for allergies), but their regular or longer usage is also not advised.

Sleep Apnea

In sleep apnea, your breathing stops for a few seconds during sleep. This triggers a survival reflex. Your brains wake you up enough to consciously resume breathing. So, you keep breathing and sleeping. However, this makes your sleep disruptive. You don’t get a healthy, restful sleep and you feel the negative effects of getting less sleep.

Sleep apnea can happen because of either of the two reasons. Blockage of your airways during sleep which is called obstructive sleep apnea or your brain not properly controlling the breathing functionality. This type is known as central sleep apnea.

Treatments For Sleep Apnea

  • Weight loss: People who are obese or the cause of sleep apnea is linked to obesity, can reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea by shedding 10% of their weight.
  • Nasal Sprays and adhesive strips: They make breathing easier.
  • Decreasing or stopping certain medications: Opioid pain medicines should be reduced.
  • PAP machines: Positive airway pressure machines increase the air pressure in your airways. This keeps the tissues from obstructing breathing. The most common PAP machine is the CPAP machine.


In this sleep disorder, you will feel the need to sleep during the daytime. Due to the daytime sleepiness, you will have difficulty falling asleep during the night. So, you may get less sleep when you want.

Treatments For Narcolepsy

An easy approach is to try behavioral approaches. They include strategies to reduce sleeping in the daytime and avoid accidents or injuries in case of sleeping when it can be hazardous like driving. Planned naps and a healthy diet can help with this.

However, if medications are required, your doctor will prescribe them for the reduction in excessive daytime sleeping and disrupted nighttime sleep.

Restless Legs Syndrome

People with restless legs syndrome (RLS) feel an urge to move their legs when they are resting or sleeping. When the movement is done, there is a temporary comfort and then the urge to move the legs arises again. It can severely disrupt your sleep. As it’s usually regular, you will become sleep-deprived and feel symptoms similar to insomnia.

Treatments For RLS

  • Regular aerobics exercises like riding a bike, running, and walking.
  • Avoiding smartphones, laptops, TVs, and even reading anything when in bed.
  • Reducing stress and its triggers
  • Avoiding caffeine and other stimulating drinks or foods before bed.
  • Using prescription medications like antiseizure medications, dopamine agnostics, dopamine precursors, etc.

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

Rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder or REM sleep behavior disorder happens during the REM stage of sleep. This is the stage when you have vivid dreams. In REM sleep behavior disorder, you act out dreams verbally, physically, or both. It can hurt you or the person sleep with or near you.

You can take safety measures like removing sharp objects from the bedroom, placing pillows around you, and others. However, if the safety measures are insufficient or the symptoms are severe, medication is required.

Short Sleeper Syndrome

We have discussed various reasons for sleeping less than usual. All of the above are sleep disorders that require treatment. However, there is another reason for less sleep that is not a disorder and doesn’t need treatment.

Short sleeper syndrome is a condition where you naturally get less sleep and don’t experience the negative effects of it. People with SSS usually sleep for six hours or less. It’s hereditary and only 1% of people receive it. SSS usually doesn’t pose any known risks.


Apart from the rare cases of shorter sleep syndrome, getting less sleep can cause sleep deprivation and insomnia. Therefore, you should visit a sleep center Silver Spring for a check-up to know which sleep disorder, health condition, or an external factor is causing it. After diagnosis, you can follow a treatment plan to get relief.

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