What does fitful sleep mean?

Fitful sleep robs the body of needed rest and may indicate a serious health problem. If you suffer from fitful sleep or frequently wake up feeling unrested, you should discuss the problem with your doctor.


"Fitful sleep" means sleep that is restless and sporadic. You may toss and turn. You may fall asleep only to wake repeatedly throughout the night. Fitful sleep comes in irregular intervals, and leaves you feeling tired when you awaken.


Fitful sleep may indicate a serious health condition. Bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety disorders are often accompanied by restless, broken sleep. Substance abuse withdrawal can lead to fitful sleep, as can natural changes like menopause. Bedbugs or parasite infections can also cause fitful sleep. Irregular sleep patterns may also indicate a sleep disorder like sleep apnoea.


WebMD reports that sleep deprivation contributes to several health conditions, including hypertension, heart attack and stroke. A study done by Stanford University and University of Wisconsin researchers showed a link between sleep deprivation and obesity. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine cites a 2004 study by Fabio Cirignotta, M.D., which showed that lack of sleep made teens twice as likely to have a car accident.

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About the Author

Wendy Anderson has been writing professionally since 2006, and has had poems, short stories and essays published in several local literary magazines. She has also been copy-editing for more than 15 years, and has worked with local and national authors and publishing houses. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Lambuth College.