a person split in half, one side showing a clear well rested eye and the other side showing a tried irritated eye

The Difference Between Sleep and Restful Sleep

Last updated: October 2021

There is a difference between sleep and restful sleep.

To me, sleep means I laid down for a little while (or for what seems for a little while; it could be several hours) with my eyes closed. And then I wake up, rested or not. Possibly even waking up a few times during the night, tossing and turning just trying to get comfortable. On these nights, I'm more likely to have a bad dream or nightmare than I am at any other time.

How unrestful sleep makes me feel

And usually, when I sleep like this, when I do start to wake up, I am really groggy. Sometimes there is brain fog, and it can take several cups of coffee to get rid of it.

Mentally and emotionally, there can be a little bit of anger. I just want to be left alone! I'm not quite sure where this comes from. I have no motivation to do anything. I just want to lie back down.

But I know that has to do with the quality of sleep that I had that night. I sometimes have these nights whether I use my CPAP machine or not. But more often than not, if I'm using my CPAP, I feel this way because something was not working correctly, like the mask was not sealed around my face. Or, like the time the machine didn't turn on automatically, so I slept all night with the mask on but no air movement. Unfortunately, this is how others with sleep apnea sometimes sleep at night. Can anyone else relate?

What is restful sleep?

Oh, that sweet restful sleep! I lie down, and my body starts to relax. My breathing starts getting deeper from my diaphragm; the breathing is almost as steady and comforting as listening to the squeak of a rocking chair or steady drumming of a drum. As I focus on my own breathing, I slowly fade off to sleep.

How I feel after a night of restful sleep

The next morning when I wake up, I'm excited to see what the day has in store! Each day when I wake up like this, it's like the possibilities are endless!

I am able to get more done throughout the day. My thought processes seem to be much better, especially planning and organizing for the tasks that need to be done. But the most amazing thing is… I still have energy in the evenings like I did when I was younger.

Nothing hurts. There's no brain fog or grogginess. No anger – only happiness and joy! This is how I usually wake up when my CPAP is working properly and I have done a little preparation for restful sleep.

Getting restful sleep by treating my sleep apnea

Things I do to get restful sleep include:

  1. I keep my bedroom dark and quiet.
  2. I run a fan to keep the room cool.
  3. I have a blanket available if I'm a little chilly.
  4. I have a set time to go lie down.
  5. I put on my CPAP headgear and start to focus on my breathing.
  6. I have a routine after I lie down (my time for reading, FreeCell, or spider solitaire with time limits!!).
  7. I relax my body as I fully focus on my breathing from my diaphragm (deep breathing) instead of my lungs.
  8. Sweet drifting off to sleep…

Do you feel a difference between sleep and restful sleep? Do you have any routines or practices to help your body get more restful sleep? Share with us in the comments below!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The SleepApnea.Sleep-Disorders.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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