Do you wake up during the night and find it difficult to get back to sleep? It's quite normal to wake up from four to six times each night but it can be very annoying. The so called “middle insomnia”, or difficulty maintaining sleep is quite normal, but if you have trouble staying asleep and falling asleep again, you could possibly have a problem. Read on for tips and advice.
Sleep problems and reasons for waking up
Sleep goes in cycles throughout the night, from a deeper, slow wave sleep to a lighter sleep, where it is more likely that you will wake up. Some people wake up because they have to go to the toilet, but if you go more than twice each night, you should have a look at your drinking habits before bedtime. Limit your evening drinking - and if this doesn’t help, the reason could be that your body is trying to maintain a balance of water and electrolytes. See if it helps to sip a little water with a pinch of salt before bed.
If you drink alcohol before bedtime, this is another story all together. Alcohol can put you to sleep quite easily, but it can affect the normal sleep cycles and prevent the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, where a lot of your dreaming goes on. This lack of REM sleep will make your night restless and fragment your sleep. Try stop drinking any alcohol at least a few hours before you go to bed and give your body time to break down the alcohol.
Bed, bedroom and external influences
Some people wake up because they feel too warm. One solution is of course to turn down the room temperature as 16-18° C is ideal for most. Another reason for waking up could be your mattress. If it's too firm it can create a pressure in your hips, shoulders and lower back. Try out different mattresses and go for one, that allows you to test it out for a trial period.
Another reason for middle insomnia could be light from the street or digital devices in your room. Make it a rule that your last hour before bed is screen-free. The “blue light” emitted from smart phones and tablets is very problematic for your ability to go to sleep and stay asleep. Also, try using black out curtains and face any electric devices away from you. Read more on light and sleep.
Noise is of course another reason for a lack of sleep. The sound of a truck in the middle of the night - or even the happy sound of birds singing in the morning - could wake you with a jolt. Does soundproofing your room seem impossible? It could be as simple as keeping the doors closed. Otherwise, try earplugs while sleeping if you’re sensitive to noise.
Control your stress
Are you busy at work or are there other aspects of your life that make you wake up with an adrenaline rush? Well, you are not alone. Stress is one main culprits that rob you of sleep.
Try meditation or yoga and try to make yourself think of unimportant things that you still find mildly interesting. One way is to read a book or listen to a podcast that is so engaging that it prevents you from thinking stressful thoughts.
Healthy sleep habits
Sleep normally takes place at night, but it is highly affected by your daily routines. Avoid heavy meals right before bedtime and naps during the day. You should also make sure to go outside during the day as the natural light helps you keep up a healthy sleep-wake cycle. Avoid emotional discussions before going to bed and get up and go to bed at the same time - during the week and on weekends, too.