What Is Paradoxical Sleep Deprivation and How You Can Enjoy a Peaceful Sleep

Paradoixcal sleep

Are you tired of changing your sides on your bed and waiting for sleep to take over your eyes? Have you been feeling jumpy or cranky once your leave your bed knowing that you couldn’t sleep at night? Who doesn’t love a good night’s sleep and enjoy some rest for a while? We grew up hearing how important sleep is and its connection with our health and well-being. Sleep is essential for our body because we can give rest to our body by taking little breaks during the break, but our brain only rests when we sleep.

We all have encountered a zombie-like state once in our life due to lack of sleep, and we can vividly recall how cranky it made us. Our brain keeps our body running by firing neurons and releasing neurotransmitters, but it also needs rest. Our brain recharges or rejuvenates when we sleep to function better when we wake up and start a new day. Sleep deprivation is a common issue that many people go through. Sometimes, it gets complicated, leading to prolonged periods of insomnia.

Many people suffer from paradoxical sleep deprivation. Around one-third of the US population has to battle their sleeplessness changing their sides throughout the night. People who struggle to fall asleep also try multiple natural remedies to boost a better sleep cycle.

What is paradoxical sleep?

The word paradoxical is very common when we refer to sleep medicine. It is a state that entails insomnia. Our sleep has two states, and paradoxical sleep is associated with sleep REM or rapid eye movement. REM sleep is also known as dream sleep, where our brain has intense activity in the midbrain and forebrain. There are noticeable eye movements, and it is the part where a person often dreams as it is the deep sleep phase of a sleep cycle. Our body also experiences varying blood pressure, heart rhythm, and breathing during REM or dream sleep rate. The blood flow in this phase is high towards the brain. It is the deepest state of sleep, hence why you need it more often to sleep better. But it happens for the shortest part of our whole sleep cycle.

What is paradoxical sleep deprivation?

It refers to the absence of the REM phase of a sleep cycle, often confused with paradoxical insomnia, a rare state. The REM phase of our sleep has our body relaxed to not act out in our dreams. Failure of muscular relaxation during the REM phase may lead to REM behavior disorder. People often misjudge paradoxical insomnia with how long it takes them to fall asleep and how many hours they can sleep. People experiencing paradoxical sleep deprivation have this sense of awareness about their surroundings while they are asleep. Therefore, they might think that they have slept for few hours even if they have been sleeping for seven or eight hours. The reason for feeling so is that the REM phase fails to activate, and the increased activity in the brain makes us feel alert even in our sleep. Although insomnia commonly affects 35% of the population, paradoxical insomnia is rare, and the reported cases are less than 5%.

How can you sleep better?

Multiple studies have revealed that paradoxical sleep deprivation is a treatable condition, luckily for those suffering from it. Since it can impact your health, as explained later.  Scientists have researched multiple behavioral interventions that have proven to improve insomnia. Therapies like CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy have a positive impact on treating insomnia. Usually, we hear the word CBT while treating mental health issues but changing behavioral patterns can also improve sleep deprivation.

We all have faced this situation where we have reminded ourselves to sleep on time, and besides hitting the bed and leaving sleep behind, we couldn’t sleep. Some of us have even feared staying awake and messing up our next-day routines. Another option for treating or improving paradoxical sleep deprivation is paradoxical sleep intention. It is a form of cognitive therapy that enables a person to confront their fear of staying awake and its potential consequences. Psychologists or psychiatrists trained in sleep medicine can help people with paradoxical sleep intentions by helping them accept their fears and finding out the causes behind them. This therapy helps in improving or eliminating the “performance anxiety” of falling asleep.

Sleep therapists may also suggest a person notice the impact of their sleep on their daily events. Restructuring our cognitive patterns affects our behavior and emotions. For example, changing our perception regarding our fears of staying awake can help in relieving some of the anxiety and facilitates better or uninterrupted sleep.

Impact of paradoxical sleep deprivation on our health

Our body has an internal clock that manages our sleep-wake cycle. Some people feel lethargic after sleeping for eight hours, while others act fresh and energetic even after two hours of sleep. What is the reason behind it? Our body has this natural hormone called melatonin responsible for sleep regulation. It is also called the “dark hormone,” ad it functions during the night. Our daily exposure to light and dark cycles helps in setting our body’s internal clock.

The causes for paradoxical sleep deprivation are not a disease but a symptom that can entail various underlying conditions.  It can be due to psychological conditions like depression and anxiety or result from medical illnesses like COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or other conditions altering our sleep cycles. Paradoxical sleep deprivation can lead to excessive sleepiness, irritability, fatigue, anxiety and reduced focus. Causes and symptoms may vary from person to person, but it is a controllable situation. Insomnia is common, but paradoxical insomnia is rare. Still, researchers have managed to find possible solutions to help people with these symptoms. Energy healing, for instance, is another magical treatment for it.


A night without enough sleep can affect our day and our behavior. Sleep deprivation is common, and it has worsened with the modern era. People are living with increased screen time and no physical activity.  Our sleep patterns have a lot to do with our routines and the time we wake up. Our exposure to darkness and daylight alters our internal clock and impacts our sleeping hours. Sleep deprivation can lead to long-term effects like memory issues, weak immunity, lack of focus, accidents, poor balance, and in severe cases, muscular dystrophy. Avoiding sleep deprivation is only possible if we follow a proper routine or seek therapy to resolve our sleep issues. Adopting healthy habits like avoiding screens an hour before sleep, eating healthy food, and following an active lifestyle can help in improving our sleep.