Do you find yourself constantly tossing and turning in bed, unable to fall back asleep after waking up at night? Knowing some tips on how to fall back asleep at night may get you more rest!
Also known as sleep maintenance insomnia, the inability to fall back asleep is common for many people. It can often be associated with stress, discomfort, insomnia, or any other cause.
See also Why Am I Not Sleeping Well? and 15 Easy Home Remedies for Sleep.
This article will explore why we wake up at night and share some effective strategies for falling back asleep quickly and easily.
Health Benefits of Uninterrupted Sleep:
There are many health benefits associated with getting uninterrupted sleep.
1. It allows you to experience the REM phase of sleep.
REM sleep is a stage of sleep characterized by rapid eye movements, increased brain activity, and more vivid dreams.
It is considered the deepest and most restful stage of sleep. REM sleep plays an important role in mood, memory, and learning.
During REM sleep, your brain is active and working to process information from the day. This helps improve your mood and memory.
REM sleep also helps with learning new information. When you don’t get enough REM sleep, you may have trouble concentrating and remembering things. You may also feel irritable or anxious.
If you regularly experience interrupted sleep, it can cause you to miss out on the benefits of REM sleep. This can lead to problems with mood, memory, and learning.
2. It can improve your mood and energy levels.
When you don’t get enough sleep, you can feel irritable and run down, which can affect your ability to concentrate and get things done during the day.
3. It can boost your immune system.
Another important health benefit of uninterrupted sleep is that it helps to boost your immune system.
When you’re well-rested, your body is better able to fight off infection and illness. If you’re constantly tired, you’re more likely to get sick.
4. Helps maintain a healthy weight.
Getting enough sleep is also crucial for maintaining a healthy weight. Studies have shown that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to be obese. This is because lack of sleep can lead to cravings for unhealthy foods and snacks.
5. It can boost your mental health.
Sleep is crucial for our mental health. A good night’s sleep can help improve our mood, cognitive function, and overall sense of well-being. Conversely, a lack of sleep can lead to increased stress levels, anxiety, and depression.
6. It can prevent accidents.
When we don’t get enough sleep, our reaction time slows, and we’re more likely to make mistakes. This can be dangerous in many situations but is especially critical if you work in a job that requires quick thinking and reactions, such as a doctor or nurse.
Getting enough sleep is also important for people who drive, as drowsy driving can lead to deadly accidents.
What Causes Waking Up in the Middle of the Night?
There are a number of things that can make you wake up at night. Common ones may include:
If you’re a regular drinker, alcohol could be causing you to wake up at night. This is because alcohol can disrupt your sleep pattern and reduce your sleep quality.
In one study, drinking alcohol 4 hours before bedtime resulted in less sleep time in African-American adults.
Caffeine is a psychoactive substance found in various foods, including chocolate, coffee, soda, and tea. It works by stimulating the nervous system, which can increase your level of alertness and wakefulness.
When consumed close to bedtime, these effects can disrupt your sleep pattern and cause you to wake up in the middle of the night.
One study found that consuming caffeine up to six hours before bedtime disrupted sleep.
If you can eliminate caffeine-containing foods from your diet, the better for you. But if you cannot, at least avoid taking them in the evening or close to bedtime.
Additionally, caffeine can cause frequent urination causing you to wake up to answer to a call.
3. Certain medications
Although intended to treat a condition and improve your health, some Prescription medications like beta blockers, stimulants, opioids, antidepressants, and corticosteroids can make it difficult to stay asleep.
If you’re a smoker, nicotine cigarettes could also be the reason you aren’t sleeping well at night. Nicotine is a stimulant found in tobacco products. It stimulates the central nervous system
This is because nicotine is a stimulant and can keep you awake by preventing sleep onset or disrupting sleep.
5. Physical inactivity
If your body is not active enough during the day, especially if you sit at your job all day long, or if you generally live a sedentary lifestyle, you’ll be more likely to experience disturbed sleep. This is because your body is not tired enough to sleep through the night.
Even if you manage to fall asleep, you’ll likely wake up in the middle of the night and have it difficult to go back to sleep.
6. Unfavorable temperature
If the temperature in your room is too cold and you’re not warm enough, or if it’s too hot and you’re all covered up, you’ll be more likely to be disturbed and wake up at night.
According to experts, you can experience better sleep when your core body temperature cools while your skin temperature increases. For this reason, the ideal room temperature for sleeping should be between 66-70 degrees Fahrenheit.
If your room is significantly cooler or warmer than this, it could be why you wake up at night. So consider adjusting the thermostat to create a more conducive sleeping environment.
You may also want to consider what you’re wearing to bed. If you wear heavy pajamas or use multiple layers of blankets, you’ll definitely get hot and find it difficult to sleep.
7. Too much light
When it’s dark, your brain is signaled to start producing the sleep hormone melatonin. But when there’s too much light, even at night, the body perceives it as daytime and can not produce as much melatonin to cause you to sleep or stay asleep.
So ensure all your screens are shut, including putting away your phone.
In the case of an outdoor light source like a street light, consider getting darker curtains to help block off the light.
8. Noise pollution
Noise can come from an outside source like traffic if you live in a city or close to a busy road or from inside the house like a snoring pet or partner or noisy roommates.
In such cases, earplugs can help block out some of that sound. You can also use a white noise machine to create calming background noise to help you sleep better.
9. Medical conditions:
Various medical conditions can also make falling or staying asleep difficult. These may include:
- Sleep apnea: This is a condition where breathing is integrated when sleeping, causing you to wake up.
- Restless leg syndrome: In this condition, a person feels an irresistible urge to move their legs. This often occurs in the late afternoon or evening and becomes intense at night while sleeping. This can disrupt your sleep, making it difficult to go back to sleep after waking up.
- Insomnia: This is a sleep condition where someone experiences difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. It can be caused by different things, including stress, anxiety, and certain medications. If you think insomnia is causing you to wake up at night, seek medical attention. Depending on the cause, the doctor may prescribe some sleep medicine.
10. Hormonal issues:
There are a number of hormonal issues that can make it difficult to fall asleep. For instance, hormonal imbalances experienced during pregnancy can disrupt normal sleep patterns and cause wakefulness at night.
Menopause can also cause hormonal imbalances that can cause sleepless nights.
Most people report that aging causes them to have a harder time falling asleep or staying asleep. This is because as you age, the body produces less growth hormone causing a decrease in deep sleep. This can produce less melatonin, causing one to experience fragmented sleep.
Additionally, old age predisposes one to conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s, and respiratory diseases, all of which can make it challenging to get a good night’s sleep.
How To Fall Back Asleep At Night?
While most people find it difficult to quickly catch some sleep again, there are plenty of tips on how to fall back asleep.
1. Get rid of distractions
This can be anything from loud sounds to bright lights that might be keeping you awake.
If the light in your room is on, switch it off. Also, if you’re trying to sleep in a noisy environment, try blocking out the sound with earplugs or playing white noise from your phone.
2. Deep breathing
Deep breathing is a relaxation technique that experts have recommended as a way of falling back to sleep in no time.
A common breathing exercise often recommended is called the 4-7-8 method. This involves inhaling through the nose for four seconds, holding the breath for seven seconds, then exhaling through the mouth for 8 seconds.
Repeat this until you feel sleepy and ready to go back to sleep.
3. Perform progressive muscle relaxation (PMR)
This involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in the body. You can start from the feet and then work your way up.
For example, start by tensing the muscles in your toes for about seven seconds and then relaxing them. Do the same to each muscle in your body until you get to the shoulders, neck, and face.
After this exercise, you’ll be more relaxed to fall back asleep.
If you find it challenging to keep track of your muscles, search for free guided recordings online.
4. Listen to relaxing music
According to experts, there’s no one-fit-all music to promote sleep. Different people respond differently to different types of music. Therefore, you’ll have to try different types to get what works best for you. That being said, calm and cool music has shown better results.
5. Try sleeping apps
If none of the techniques above are working, try searching for sleeping apps. Some of these can provide relaxation techniques, while others can offer gentle voices or white noise to help you fall back asleep.
Most sleeping apps are free, while others are paid but have a free trial. So try them out and see what works best for you.
How To Fall Back Asleep: Things To Avoid:
There are some key mistakes that many of us make when we randomly wake up at night that can make it much more difficult to get back to resting. Here are a few things you should try to not to do when you wake up at night:
1. Avoid staring at the clock
While your first thought when you wake up in the middle of the night is to check what time it is, try to avoid staring at the clock after that.
This is because the more you see how much time has passed without falling back asleep, or how little is left until morning, the more you’ll become anxious and unable to sleep.
2. Avoid staying in bed for too long
If you lie awake for 20 minutes and don’t feel any sign of falling back to sleep, you should probably get out of bed.
This is because the more you stay there and you’re not sleeping, the more you get frustrated and are less likely to fall asleep.
Instead, move around in different rooms for some minutes and take your mind off sleeping. This will help you relax and be calmer, which can boost your chances of going back to sleep.
3. Avoid checking your phone or turning on the screen.
When you wake up in the middle of the night, you can be tempted to check your phone or turn on the screen. However, this can make it harder to fall back asleep.
This is because the blue light from these devices can disrupt your sleep pattern by stimulating the brain, thus making it more difficult to sleep.
Also, if you see a notification or something on your phone that requires attention, you’ll likely want to finish whatever is required before trying to go back to sleep.
- How to Fall Asleep Faster
Waking up at night can be frustrating, especially when you find it difficult to fall back asleep. However, understanding why it happens can help you make the necessary changes to minimize the chances of being awake at night.
If it’s you think it’s a medical condition, ensure you seek professional help. Other than that, the tips discussed in this article can help you fall back asleep quickly and enjoy the rest of your night.
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