Microsleep: Why Do I Get a Brief Falling Asleep Without Knowing?

Microsleep is a brief falling asleep that comes in suddenly for a short time. A moment when the brain still feels fatigue but must stay afloat to keep us stay awake. This condition is usually due to fatigue or sleepiness.

A person who experiences microsleep does not realize that he is falling asleep or will enter to sleep. This condition can also occur with his eyes open with a blank view. Microsleep generally only lasts about one second to two minutes. Microsleep generally only lasts about one second to two minutes, but the duration will increase if someone truly begins to sleep.

The microsleep signs are the head like nodding, winking too often, and cannot remember what happened a few minutes before the microsleep occurs. After falling asleep, someone who experiences microsleep often wakes up feeling fresher in a short time.


Brain condition during microsleep.

Microsleep occurs because the brain enters to sleep condition when the body is still active in a conscious situation. It is because the brain cannot survive between feeling tired and awake.

A study found that the microsleep symptoms were due to reduced brain activity in the thalamus part which played a role in forwarding the response to the limbs. Thalamus also plays a role in regulating the mechanism of sleep so that a decrease in activity can easily make a person fall asleep. 

Meanwhile, the part of the brain that processes the stimulus from the nerves remains working and has increased action causing the parietal lobe of the brain to become the main part to restore consciousness.

Microsleep causes.

The causes of microsleep can vary but generally are due to lack of sleep. This condition tends to occur in people who work night shifts and do not get good sleep quality or indeed have sleep disorders.

Obstructive sleep apnea, which is a condition of obstruction in the upper airway that interferes with breathing during sleep. As a result, the brain does not receive enough oxygen during rest and can trigger daytime drowsiness.

A rest of fewer than 6 hours causes you to have a debt of sleep.  It can accumulate before you fall asleep according to lack of sleep. It will trigger microsleep at any time.

Drowsiness is a common side effect in some medications and can worsen sleepiness when you also lack sleep.

Microsleep symptoms.

  1. Not responding to information
  2. A blank stare
  3. Sudden body jerk
  4. Cannot remember for the last 1-2 minutes before microsleep occurs
  5. Blink slowly
  6. Inability to keep the eyes open
  7. Excessive evaporation
  8. Keep blinking to stay awake
  9. Duration of work that "fight" biological hours (work the night shift)

Microsleep prevention.

The way to overcome microsleep is to improve sleep quality. It is recommended to have enough sleep for at least 8 hours so that the body is better prepared to do the activities on the next day. There are several things you can do to improve the quality of your sleep:
  1. Manage sleep patterns.
  2. Wake up and sleep at the same time every day, even during holidays.
  3. Create an atmosphere that is conducive to sleep, such as the use of sleeping lights, using a blindfold, turning off the TV, keeping the device away, comfortable room temperature, using aromatherapy, and others.
  4. Get used to exercising regularly, not smoking, and avoiding drugs.
  5. Make yourself as relaxed as possible, such as doing meditation or yoga.
  6. Avoid exercising too close to bedtime.
  7. If sleep is limited or when you are sleepy, take a nap for 20-30 minutes. This can improve concentration and motoric skills.
Microsleep is a form of body response due to lack of sleep. Although someone who is awake from microsleep tends to be fresh, it can be very dangerous when it happens while doing activities that require high concentration, such as driving. Therefore, you are advised to always maintain the quality of your sleep.

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