The line between being awake or asleep can sometimes get blurry, especially when you start zoning out in the middle of repetitive activity. This fleeting experience can sometimes segue into an autopilot mode, one where your eyes are wide open even though your brain is shut down. This is called microsleep, and it’s far more dangerous than you think.

What Is Microsleep?

As the name suggests, microsleep refers to a form of sleep disorder that can attack you with brief episodes of sleep that last from a few to several seconds. It often occurs in people who feel sleepy during the day and are fighting to stay awake, resulting in an uncontrollable, episodic sleep.

It’s an easy condition to overlook since most people who experience microsleep don’t notice when they doze off, resulting in a memory gap when the person is in the middle of an activity. The fact that it can happen anytime makes it a highly hazardous disorder, especially for those working with heavy equipment, driving, or operating complex machinery.

What Are the Warning Signs of Microsleep?

Many people experience microsleep in the following ways:

  • Inattentiveness
  • Staring off into space
  • Head bobbing
  • Experiencing sudden body jerks
  • Forgetting the last few seconds
  • Brief loss of muscle control

You can also spot red flags that indicate you’re nearing a microsleep state when you start to sense the following:

  • Excessive yawning
  • Continuous blinking to stay awake
  • Inability to keep eyes open
  • Body jerks

What Causes Microsleep?

Microsleep can occur at any time of the day due to a lack of quality sleep. Keep in mind that microsleep is not good for you in any way—even when it happens in bed, since it doesn’t reach either of the two important stages of sleep: REM and NREM.

Microsleep is also common in people with sleep apnea, periodic limb movement disorder, narcolepsy, and even circadian disorders. The fragments between sleep and wakefulness can be disorienting for anyone, but it can be highly dangerous when it happens when you’re behind the wheel.

The Bottom Line

Many people know it’s dangerous to fall asleep in the middle of a task, but not all realize that the mind can shut down for a fleeting time. These bouts of brain naps can put anyone in a dangerous situation, making this disorder unhealthy and hazardous.

Getting good-quality sleep is the best way to mitigate these unintended episodes, which is why it’s crucial to seek medical attention if you suffer from sleep deprivation. Getting quality sleep may seem like an elusive dream in this fast-paced world, but it’s an essential part of leading a healthy life.

Work with a Sleep Doctor in Jacksonville

If you’re looking for a sleep doctor in Jacksonville, FL, who can treat multiple sleep disorders, our team at Jacksonville Sleep Center is your best option. You deserve a good night’s sleep, so contact us to see what we can do to help lull you back to sweet dreams!