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You might wonder, why do I keep waking up at 4 a.m.? Waking up during the night is fairly common, with over 35% of people waking up during the night at least three times per week. Environmental factors, such as a partner snoring, a change in the room temperature or a loud car driving by, may wake you up momentarily from sleep. Usually, most people fall back asleep easily.
If you are waking up at the same time each night or waking up frequently throughout the night and struggling with falling back asleep, it could be due to factors beyond your environment. Waking up frequently at night often occurs alongside physical and mental disorders, and tends to increase with age. Learn possible reasons you might wake up during the night, and how to determine if your awakenings warrant a doctor’s visit.
Why Do I Wake Up at the Same Time Each Night?
A variety of factors could cause a person to wake up each night when they would prefer to be asleep. These factors might intersect with natural bodily rhythms, such as your circadian rhythm or sleep cycle, to make waking up at a specific time more likely.
The circadian rhythm is an internal 24-hour clock that causes different hormones to release at different times of day to either promote sleep or energize the body and mind. We also cycle through four sleep stages as we sleep, and wake up more easily at certain points of this cycle than others. Combined with these existing rhythms, other factors that cause people to wake up at night might result in regularly waking up around the same time.
If you struggle with falling or staying asleep, you may be experiencing insomnia. Common symptoms of insomnia include:
- Trouble falling asleep
- Waking up during the night
- Waking up too early in the morning and being unable to fall back asleep
- Not sleeping soundly
- Not sleeping enough despite having enough time and the right environment for sleep
- Feeling tired during the day
Insomnia can be caused by a variety of factors:
- Shift work
- Napping during the day
- Using technology in bed
- Inconsistent bedtimes
- Smoking, alcohol, and drugs
- Caffeine late in the day
- A bright or noisy room
- Physical pain
- A lack of exercise
If you think you may be struggling with insomnia, there are a variety of treatment options, including cognitive behavioral therapy, lifestyle changes, and sleep medications.
Excessive stress can negatively impact almost all of the body, affecting the musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal systems. Stress can hurt your quality of sleep as well. A study of medical students found that those who reported higher stress levels also reported poorer quality of sleep.
One study found that an increase in sleep quality helped increase a person’s ability to cope with stress effectively. Sleep and stress likely affect one another, with poor sleep impacting your ability to handle stress, and stress impacting your ability to sleep well. Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia can help break this cycle.
Your nighttime awakenings might be a normal part of the aging process. Around middle age, adults begin to wake up more often at night and experience shortened sleep duration due to circadian rhythm changes. Older adults are also more likely to take longer to fall asleep at night and wake up too early in the morning, then struggle to fall back asleep. Both cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia and strategic light exposure have been found to help.
Hormonal changes may prompt you to wake up during the night. The various stages of women’s health, such as pregnancy, perimenopause, and menopause, are all marked by hormonal changes and sleep disturbances.
People who are pregnant may also have disrupted sleep due to the physical changes in their body. If you are pregnant, try using a maternity pillow to make sleeping on your side feel more comfortable. If you are perimenopausal or menopausal and experiencing body temperature fluctuations, try investing in cool bedding or a fan to help you sleep more comfortably.
Certain medications may negatively impact sleep or cause nighttime awakenings.
- Beta-Blockers: Primarily used to treat hypertension, these medications can impact sleep by suppressing melatonin production in the body. Since melatonin promotes sleep, this suppression can make sleeping soundly difficult. Research suggests that supplementing with melatonin may counteract the effect beta-blockers have on sleep.
- Diuretics:Diuretics help lower blood pressure by reducing the amount of water in your body. However, you may find that you urinate more frequently while taking them. Frequent nighttime wakings to use the restroom can disrupt your sleep cycle and may leave you struggling to fall back asleep.
- Antidepressants:Antidepressants help treat depression as well as various other mental health disorders. However, trouble sleeping is a common side effect of antidepressants.
If you have concerns about your current medications, it is important to discuss them with your doctor.
Lifestyle choices may also impact your ability to stay asleep through the night. For example, one study found that people who do not maintain a set bedtime report more sleep-related problems.
People who smoke are also more likely to report poorer sleep quality than those who do not. Additionally, some people wake up to smoke a cigarette during the night, further impacting their sleep quality. Research suggests regular, vigorous exercise may help you quit the habit if you smoke.
Attaining adequate sleep is especially important when you have chronic pain, but it can be difficult since chronic pain often causes nighttime awakenings that lead to inadequate sleep. Relieving pain and any related mood issues, such as anxiety and depression, can help with related sleep problems.
When to Talk to Your Doctor
Waking during the night could be due to a variety of factors and may resolve with simple lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a consistent bedtime and avoiding electronic devices and caffeine in the evening.
However, if you continue to wake up during the night despite making changes and these awakenings prevent you from attaining adequate sleep, you might want to reach out to your doctor. Your doctor can help determine if there is an underlying sleep disorder, health issue, or mental health problem causing you to wake up during the night.
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Do you end up waking up with a headache or feeling like you’re not well-rested in spite of sleeping for 7 to 8 hours? It’s probably because you’ve woken up multiple times in the middle of the night.
You aren’t alone in feeling this way because it is a common lifestyle problem for many. A study conducted by the journal Sleep Medicine with over 8,000 participants noted that almost 40 per cent of the people woke up in the middle of the night. The thing is that you need to fix this issue before it starts taking a toll on your health.
To fix your sleep cycle, you need to figure out exactly what could be causing disturbed sleep. For this, we talked to Dr Sonal Anand, a psychiatrist at Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai .
Here are 6 prime reasons you end up waking up in the middle of the night:
1. Bedroom atmosphere
According to Dr Sonal, too many temperature variations during the night can disturb sleep. Moreover, extreme temperatures can also make it tough to catch on some comfortable sleep.
“Other factors in your immediate surrounding that can disturb your sleep include uncomfortable bedding, sudden loud noises, bright lights and mosquitoes or bed bugs. You can use eye wraps and earplugs for a peaceful sleep,” suggested Dr Anand.
2. Poor sleep hygiene
For a good night’s sleep, you need to maintain good sleep hygiene. As you age, you require less sleep. Older adults need about 7 hours of sleep. If you sleep in the afternoon, it is quite possible that you might end up waking up during the night. Lying in bed for a long time without sleep impairs quality and quantity of sleep.
Working late till late in the night and rotating shifts can alter sleep patterns, disrupting sleep on the weekends and also on normal working days.
“Having too much tea, coffee and water in the evening can cause the bladder to become full late in the night and lead to multiple bathroom visits,” suggested Dr Anand.
3. Medical conditions
It is most common amongst older adults but can affect people of all age groups. “There are many medical conditions that might cause one to wake up in the middle of the night. Obstructive Sleep Apnoea is one of the most common conditions that can lead to disturbed sleep. Other conditions include underlying cardiac or pulmonary problems, neurological issues like Alzheimer’s, restless leg syndrome, hyperthyroidism, pain, and diabetes. Some medications can also lead to disturbed sleep,” explained Dr Anand.
4. Psychological causes
Stress is known to cause insomnia. Anxiety and tension in the body and mind might disturb the sleep cycle. Terminal insomnia is often seen in patients who have depression. In fact, insomnia can precede depressive episodes in some cases. Post-traumatic stress disorder is associated with nightmares and frequently waking up during the night.
5. Alcohol and nicotine consumption
“Alcohol can help with sleeping but can also lead to waking up too quickly. In the long run, alcohol depresses the brain and gives rise to sleeping problems. Smoking also disturbs sleep. Many smokers wake up soon after sleeping due to their body craving for nicotine,” she explained.
6. Using your phone before going to bed
Most of us end up using our phones or laptops right before going to sleep. This is not just wrecking our physical well-being but our mental health as well.
According to a study, people who use their smartphone right before they are off to sleep develop insomnia or deal with sleep deprivation. Moreover, this problem doesn’t just lead to mental fatigue but it also diminishes focus and productivity.
Here are 6 things you can do to induce deep sleep:
1. Don’t keep your phone anywhere near yourself. If possible, put it on sleep mode.
2. Drink a cup of chamomile tea an hour before you sleep.
3. Listen to soft music before going to bed.
4. Have a hot water shower.
5. You can practice basic yoga poses that can help in inducing sleep.
6. Eat light food but don’t starve yourself. In addition, don’t drink too much water right before you sleep.
Ladies, it’s time to fix your sleep cycle to ensure you always stay healthy!
Six-pack abs are all that Nikita needs, along with her daily dose of green tea. At Health Shots, she produces videos, podcasts, stories, and other kick-ass content.
A bad night is a nightmare because it carries a drowsy head and fatigue to the following day. Call it stress, anxiety or something else, more and more people have begun to suffer from interrupted sleep or insomnia. If it is a medical situation which needs attention, you must visit your GP. However, interrupted sleep can also occur due to easily modifiable reasons. Here we list nine such situations which are causing your forty winks to become twenty.
02 /10 Wrong temperature
WRONG TEMPERATURE: Your room could be too hot or too cold for your body to get its required hours of sleep. Either the setting of the room is such (a factor that’s largely unmodifiable) or you are setting the air conditioner or the fan at wrong setting. Your body temperature needs to dip a bit in order to sleep, however, it doesn’t mean that it needs to be freezing.
How to fix it: The National Sleep Foundation states that the ideal temperature for a good sleep for an adult is 60 to 67 degree Fahrenheit, while for a baby, it is 65 to 70 degree Fahrenheit. Try to stick to this range.
03 /10 Itchy skin
ITCHY SKIN: If your skin is so itchy and irritated that it disrupts your sleep, chances are that you got Eczema, an irritating skin disorder. In Eczema, the itch worsens as you hit evening and can bring about changes in your inflammatory response and immune system that can affect your sleep quality.
How to fix it: Consult a skin specialist to start your treatment for the disorder.
04 /10 Restless legs
RESTLESS LEGS: Restless Leg Syndrome, or better shortened as RLS, is a sleep-related problem that is very common, with almost one in every 10 Americans suffering from it. If you have it, your legs are likely to be twitchy and you will have urges to move them while you are at rest.
How to fix it: You must consult a doctor to seek treatment for RLS. RLS symptoms can also worsen due to certain allergy medication and also by sedating antihistamines, like Benadryl. You can also try the soap bar method. Read about it here.
05 /10 Firm mattress
FIRM MATTRESS: We are often told that firm mattresses are good for sleep, however, if the firmness is too much, it can worsen your sleep quality. If it is too firm, it can create pressure in your hips, shoulders and lower back.
How to fix it: One must invest time in finding the right mattress. Go for companies which allow you a test period and don’t settle for any till you are satisfied.
06 /10 Excessive urination
EXCESSIVE URINATION: Medically known as Nocturia, night-time urination can be a big bummer if it is too frequent and wakes you up multiple times while you sleep. Urine production is low when you are asleep but for some people, this may not be the case.
How to fix it: Avoid taking too many fluids from evening onwards till you sleep. Avoid diuretics such as tea and coffee. If the problem still persists, it could be due to a more serious underlying issue such as urinary tract infections, kidney problems, an enlarged prostate or diabetes. However, you must note that it is a quite common occurrence during pregnancy which should stop as soon as the woman delivers.
07 /10 Late-night booze
LATE-NIGHT BOOZE: While drinking alcohol will make you sleepy, it also disrupts your sleep. When you sleep drunk, you can go to sleep quite easily. However, as your body metabolizes that alcohol in a few hours and you reach the second phase of your sleep, your body will not be able to reach the REM – rapid eye movement – part of your sleep, which is more relaxing and healthier.
How to fix it: Avoid drinking just before your sleep hour. Give your body the time to metabolize it while you are still awake.
08 /10 Stress
STRESS: Stress is one factor that can have innumerable repercussions, one of them being interrupted sleep.
How to fix it: If you think you are stressed out (check out these symptoms if you are unsure), you must try mindfulness meditation. You can listen to de-stressing music or try progressive relaxation before sleep. If you think that your stress levels refuse to get low, you can consult a psychotherapist.
09 /10 Sleep Apnoea
SLEEP APNOEA: The condition of sleep apnoea can cause your airways to be blocked, choking you up while you sleep. Because you are not able to breathe properly, the oxygen level in your body drops and your body’s survival instinct jolts it awake.
How to fix it: You need to consult a doctor if you are facing such a condition. They should give you an airway pressure device which you need to put on your nose and mouth while you sleep. This should allow a gentle airway passage while you sleep.
10 /10 GERD, or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
GERD, also known as acid reflux, is a condition in which stomach acid travels upwards towards your oesophagus rather than going down, especially when you lie down. This causes an interrupted sleep and night-time symptoms.
How to fix it: Consult a doctor and stick to what he says. Avoid lying down immediately after meals and avoid alcohol or caffeine before sleeping for up to eight hours.
Sleep experts offer advice on sleeping soundly through the night.
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It’s normal to wake up a few times during the night, as the brain cycles through various stages of deeper and lighter sleep. Older people also often have to get out of bed to use the bathroom one or two times during the night. Waking up at night is usually harmless. Most people have no trouble falling back asleep and may not even remember their nighttime awakenings the next morning.
But if you frequently wake up in the middle of the night and find yourself struggling to fall back asleep, there could be an underlying problem. If this occurs at least three times a week over a period of at least three months, it could be chronic insomnia, said Dr. Kannan Ramar, a sleep medicine specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and former president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
Two of the primary drivers of insomnia are stress and anxiety. If you wake up and look at the clock and then start worrying about having to be rested for work the next day, paying your bills or other life stresses, it could activate your sympathetic nervous system, which controls what’s known as the fight-or-flight response. Levels of adrenaline, the so-called stress hormone, will rise, increasing your heart rate and leading to a state of heightened arousal, making it particularly difficult to ease back into sleep.
“You might ask yourself, ‘Is this the same time I woke up last night? Why does this always happen?’” Dr. Ramar said. “Those thoughts are not helpful in terms of falling back asleep.”
If you find that you’ve been awake for 25 minutes or longer, experts advise you get out of bed and do a quiet activity that calms your mind — anything to quash the stressful thoughts that were keeping you awake. Gentle stretches or breathing exercises might help, as may meditation, which has been shown in studies to help combat chronic insomnia. You might sit on the couch and knit, or read a book or magazine in dim light. Experts recommend that you avoid reading on your smartphone, since the blue light these devices emit can suppress production of melatonin, the hormone that helps make us drowsy. You might, however, pull out your phone to use a soothing app like Calm or Headspace, which are designed to help with sleep and meditation.
Eventually, when you start to feel tired, get back into bed and try to doze off. Then, the next day, implement the following sleep hygiene habits to increase your odds of sleeping soundly through the night.
Limit your evening alcohol intake. In small amounts, alcohol can act as a sedative, causing you to fall asleep faster. But it can also cause you to wake up in the middle of the night as your body is metabolizing it. Studies show that consuming alcohol before bed can lead to poor quality sleep.
Avoid consuming any caffeine after 2 p.m. because it can linger in your system well into the evening. If you drink a cup of coffee at 3:30 p.m., about a quarter of the caffeine can still be in your system 12 hours later.
Avoid napping late in the day, as this can make it harder to fall and stay asleep at night. Taking late naps will reduce what scientists call your homeostatic sleep drive, which is essentially your body’s pressure to fall sleep in the evening. If you do want to nap during the day, make sure to do it in the morning or early afternoon, and keep it short, no longer than 30 minutes. “The closer you are to bedtime or the longer the nap is, the more likely you are to run into trouble,” said Dr. Sabra Abbott, an assistant professor of neurology in sleep medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
Keep a strict sleep schedule. Waking up and going to bed at irregular times can throw off your body’s circadian rhythm, the innate 24-hour cycles that tell our bodies when to wake up and fall asleep, making it harder to sleep through the night. Try to get up at the same time each morning (aim to get at least 15 minutes of morning sunlight, which helps to shut down melatonin production) and get into bed at the same time in the evenings. Studies show that people who have irregular bedtime schedules are more likely to develop symptoms of insomnia.
If you frequently get up to use the bathroom, try to limit how much water or other fluids you drink in the evening two to four hours before bedtime.
If these measures don’t help, a sleep specialist can assess whether you might have a more significant underlying problem, such as sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome, that needs medical treatment. A sleep clinic could also connect you to a cognitive behavioral therapist who could help you identify and address any specific behaviors that might be causing your chronic insomnia.
Waking up Can Be Normal and May Not Represent Insomnia
Kashif J. Piracha, MD, is board-certified in internal medicine and nephrology. He has an active clinical practice at Methodist Willowbrook Hospital in Houston, Texas.
It is normal to wake up at night. In fact, if you didn’t, that would be a different problem entirely. Prolonged time spent awake at night may be a symptom of insomnia. In this context, awakenings can become deeply distressing. Why do awakenings happen at night? How do you know if you are waking up too much? Learn about awakenings at night and consider if you need help.
Idealized Sleep May Not Reflect Reality
Many people have an idealized vision of what sleep should be: you should fall asleep instantly, sleep through the night without waking, and jump out of the bed in the morning fully recharged. Children may sleep like this, but many adults do not. As we become older, more awakenings occur at night and more time may be spent awake. Why do these occur?
What Causes Awakenings at Night?
There are multiple potential causes of nighttime awakenings. It is normal to wake up as part of transitions between cycles of sleep stages. It is necessary to wake to change positions, roll over, or adjust the covers. Noises in the environment should normally prompt waking to ensure safety. Parents of young children often wake to attend to their needs. In some cases, it may be necessary to wake to urinate (as occurs in nocturia).
Awakenings may also be abnormal: early morning awakenings may occur in depression and very frequent awakenings may be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea. Pain may prolong wakefulness, but we are generally not aware of pain once we fall asleep. Menopause may lead to night sweats, often also due to sleep apnea. Older men with enlarged prostates tend to have trouble fully emptying their bladders, so they may wake up repeatedly at night to urinate.
In general, if you remember waking more than once per hour at night, this may be excessive.
No matter the cause of the awakening, it does not have to be a source of distress. Everyone wakes at night and no one ever complains about it if they go right back to sleep.
It is harmful if you wake at night and immediately look at the time, especially if your mind starts racing, calculating the time you have slept (or the time you have left to sleep), or if you become emotionally upset (angry, frustrated, anxious) because of the awakening. None of these feelings are conducive to sleep.
To reduce the stress associated with awakenings, make some simple changes. Set an alarm clock so that you do not oversleep. Then either turn the alarm clock so that it faces away from you in bed or cover it up. If you wake in the night, at first you will look to it out of habit. Tell yourself that it doesn’t matter what time it is, since the alarm clock is not blaring, it is not time to get up. The good news is that you get to sleep more! Roll over and try to go back to sleep. In time, you will stop checking the clock, and the awakenings that do occur will be shorter.
The abnormality is when these awakenings last too long and lead to insomnia. Even in this scenario, solutions exist.
How to Fix Insomnia
If you spend more than a few minutes getting back to sleep, you may benefit from interventions to relieve insomnia. Sleep hygiene is a great way to ensure a restful, relaxing whole night sleep. Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine close to bed, exercise regularly, stay away from foods at dinner which can promote heartburn, and make sure your sleep environment is devoid of bright light or disruptive sounds.
If more than 15 to 20 minutes are spent awake, observe stimulus control and get out of bed. Go do something relaxing until you feel sleepy and then come back to bed. If you wake towards morning, you may just get up and start your day early. This can help to reinforce the bed as a place for sleep, not wakefulness.
When insomnia becomes chronic, occurring 3 nights per week and lasting at least 3 months, treatment with cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTI) may be preferred.
A Word From Verywell
If you continue to struggle with difficulty getting back to sleep, speak with your healthcare provider about additional treatment options. It is normal to wake up at night, but if it occurs too frequently and you can’t get back to sleep easily, get the help you need to sleep better.
If you’re prone to waking up in the middle of the night, this scenario is probably too familiar: You wake up, it’s pitch black and your brain immediately knows the time. Maybe it’s 3:19 a.m., maybe it’s 37 minutes before your alarm goes off. Regardless, it’s always around the same time. Suddenly your mind is active in the middle of an otherwise good night’s sleep.
According to a global sleep survey conducted by Philips Healthcare, 67% of adults worldwide say they wake up at least once during the night . And while the occasional middle-of-the-night wake-up isn’t anything to be alarmed about, doing it consistently can affect your productivity and mood the next day. One study published in the journal Cureus found that sleep deprivation is linked to increased anger and aggression .
So what gives? We asked sleep experts to explain what’s happening when you’re waking up at the same time every night. Read on for answers, plus tricks to get you back to sleep ― or even better, advice to help prevent you from waking up at all.
First, know that we all wake up during sleep. It’s the ‘same time’ part that is a problem.
“Everyone awakens briefly in the middle of the night multiple times ― anywhere from five to seven times ― between sleep cycles,” said Shelby Harris , a licensed psychologist and board-certified behavioral sleep medicine specialist in Westchester, New York, and author of ” The Women’s Guide to Overcoming Insomnia: Get a Good Night’s Sleep Without Relying on Medication .” “It is totally normal followed by a quick return to sleep usually with amnesia for the awakening.”
But waking up frequently at the same time in the middle of the night is different, and it can mess up your sleep cycles. “When sleep isn’t consolidated, one can feel tired, sleepy and foggy during the daytime hours, in addition to getting less sleep at night and disrupting your depth of sleep,” Harris said.
Fully waking up each night may be a sign of an underlying health issue.
“People wake up in the night for many potential reasons but some are quite common,” said Mark Aloia, global lead for behavior change at Philips Healthcare .
Among these reasons include insomnia (Aloia said about 80% of people with insomnia have awakenings at both the beginning and middle of the night) and obstructive sleep apnea, which is characterized by repeated interruptions in breathing during sleep that may cause someone to wake up in the middle of the night. I t’s important to get these conditions ruled out by a doctor if you find yourself waking up at the same time in the middle of the night ― not just for your sleep’s sake but your overall health.
“Sleep-related disturbances like sleep apnea can lead to numerous health problems such as hypertension, heart disease, stroke and diabetes,” Aloia said. “It can increase the risk for an irregular heartbeat, worsen heart failure, and even increase the chance of having work-related or driving accidents.”
If it’s not a health issue, it may be a lifestyle one.
Sad but true: As we get older, we also become lighter sleepers. “Adults tend to have less slow-wave sleep [the deepest phase of non-REM sleep], and as a result, wake up more in the middle of the night,” said Terry Cralle, a sleep expert with The Better Sleep Council .
In addition, things like noise, lights (ahem, checking your phone when you wake up) and your diet before bed all play a part in how deeply and how long you’ll sleep during the night before waking up. “Alcohol in particular can help you fall asleep, but it invariably fragments your second half of the night,” Aloia said.
Another issue at play that goes hand-in-hand with age? Your hormonal state, particularly for women. “Pregnancy is a time when sleep gets disrupted from hormonal changes, urination, anxiety and discomfort from a growing belly,” Harris said. “As perimenopause hits for women, hot flashes and night sweats also begin to disrupt sleep quality.”
Waking up at the same time at night may be stress-related.
While there’s currently no research that explains exactly why we wake up near or around the same time of night, Aloia said it’s likely due to hypervigilance or worry.
“Many times when we fall asleep with worries, we process these worries during certain stages of sleep,” he said. “When we wake with these worries, we have not clearly and fully processed them.”
This is why Aloia often recommends those with sleep trouble keep a worry journal next to their bed to write down what’s causing them stress and help eliminate middle-of-the-night worry sessions.
Harris added that often anticipation of an event ― such as a baby that might cry or even the anxiety of wondering if you’ll make it through the night without waking up ― can cause lighter sleep and lead to wake-ups.
You can retrain your brain to sleep through the night.
First and foremost, it’s important to establish a healthy nightly sleep routine. That includes winding down 30 minutes to an hour before bed with no screens, keeping a consistent wake-up and sleep schedule ― even on the weekends ― and keeping the room at a comfortable temperature. (The Better Sleep Council recommends about 65 degrees Fahrenheit . )
Cralle said there are also a few things you can do to specifically help yourself get back to sleep when you are waking up at the same time in the middle of the night. First, stop clock-watching.
“A clock face should not be in your line of sight during the night, and you should not be checking your phone for the time if you do wake up,” Cralle said. “When you check the time during the night, you inevitably calculate how long you’ve been awake, and how long you have left until you need to wake up. This can easily lead to stress and anxiety and make it difficult to fall back asleep.”
It’s also important to not force sleep. It sounds counterintuitive, but it ends up being another stress-inducing activity.
“If you are not asleep in what feels to be about 15 to 20 minutes, get out of bed and do something relaxing and distracting in as dim of lighting as possible,” Cralle said. Anything from reading to listening to an audiobook, coloring, knitting, doing a puzzle, or anything else that takes your mind off sleeping will help make you feel sleepy faster. This all will eventually reduce the time you spend staring at the ceiling in place of dreaming.
You fall into bed exhausted each night and drift into a deep sleep, but a few hours later your eyes spring open again. Why is sleeping through the night so impossible for you, and what ramifications does it have for your health? Welcome to middle of the night insomnia, an often-misunderstood sleep condition that severely compromises your quality of rest.
It’s time to stop asking yourself “why do I keep waking up at night?” and finally find some answers. Below, we’ll talk about the facts behind middle insomnia to help you find a solution that will leave you sleeping through the night and well rested in the morning.
Middle insomnia (also known as intermittent insomnia) is a condition that affects one in three adults in the UK. This sleep problem is characterised as waking up in the middle of the night and having difficulty falling back asleep again. Sometimes people struggle to fall asleep the first time around, and other times the issue only comes up around 3am.
There are numerous causes of middle insomnia, and understanding what’s triggering yours will help you stop waking up at night.
Causes of middle of the night insomnia
Why are you waking up each night at 3 am? Scientists aren’t exactly sure. Some think that it has to do with your sleep cycle and that you enter a lighter stage of sleep at this time when disruptions are more likely to wake you up. Others speculate that the process is triggered by excess hormone levels that flood your system and disrupt its regular functioning.
It’s hard to pin down the primary causes of your middle insomnia, but the following health conditions can factor into it:
- Chronic pain/ illness
- Stress and anxiety
- Pregnancy (especially during the third trimester)
- Breathing difficulties (due to sleep apnea)
- Interrupting hunger or thirst
- Menopause/ prostate problems
- Sleeping on too small of a bed
- Sleeping with pets or a partner who moves around
- Acid reflux disease
- Heart disease
- Too much noise
- Sleeping on an uncomfortable mattress
- Drinking alcohol before bed
- Need to use the bathroom
- Gastrointestinal issues
- An erratic sleep schedule
- Working the night shift
It typically seems that waking up in the middle of the night is more common for older people, likely because they are more sensitive to the symptoms of insomnia.
Health problems of middle of the night insomnia
It’s common to struggle with waking up at night, but how do you know if lack of sleep is starting to affect your health?
Too little sleep can lead to a myriad of health problems, including higher blood pressure, a higher risk of developing diabetes and heart conditions, worse balance and concentration, mood changes, a compromised immune system, weight gain, and even a lower sex drive. In fact, it’s hard to identify a part of your health that isn’t affected by sleep quality.
When should you get help for some expert advice for better sleep? According to many sleep health professionals, you need to follow the “rule of threes”. This means that you should seek professional care for your middle insomnia if the problem occurs three times or more a week, keeps you awake for at least thirty minutes a time and repeats itself for at least thirty days.
Natural treatment options for middle of the night insomnia
Here’s the good news. Middle insomnia is a treatable condition, and there are steps you can take to get your sleep levels back under control. This involves cleaning up your “sleep hygiene” by adding intentionality to your nighttime routine. Following these tips will help you fall asleep quickly and stay that way until morning.
- Stop watching the clock: Feeling anxious about the sleep you’re losing will only trigger the release of stress hormones like cortisol into your bloodstream. These chemicals have stimulating effects that will just work to keep you up when you’re trying to fall asleep.
- Avoid long naps: Sleeping during the day can rob nighttime sleep from you. If you must get some shuteye, stick to 20 minutes or less.
- Don’t fall into “Sleep Extension” beliefs: It’s easy to believe that spending more time in bed through an earlier bedtime or by sleeping in will counteract the effects of middle of the night insomnia. Instead, it’s just likely to cause you to repeat the behaviour the next day. A better option is to stick to your usual bedtime or even go to bed an hour later to ensure you’re tired.
- Limit alcohol consumption: While a nightcap might help you fall asleep faster, it compromises your sleep quality, reduces time spent in REM, and improves the likelihood that you’ll wake up once the sedative effects wear off.
- Keep your room dark and chilly: Few things are more miserable at night than waking up drenched in sweat, so keep your room slightly chilly, so you stay comfortable. If outside stimulation is keeping you awake, consider an eye mask, earplugs, and even a white noise machine.
Try Advanced Night-Time Nutrients for fighting middle insomnia
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Other ingredients included to aid natural sleep include taurine (to calm your mind), magnesium (to help you relax), taurine (to reduce anxiety), and 5-HTP (to promote serotonin production). Taken together, these ingredients prime your body for better sleep, so that middle of the night insomnia is a distant dream. You don’t have to worry about building up a tolerance to its effects or any adverse symptoms, so try our sleep aid today.
Remember, you have little to lose but your middle insomnia.
Visit The Restored Blog for more practical guidance to help restore your foundations in sleep, nutrition, movement and mindset.
Next time you wake from a sound sleep and roll over to see those familiar numbers on the bedside clock, know that many others are doing the same thing.
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Whether your time is 3 a.m. or 1 a.m. or any other time, you’re one of many people who experience regular nighttime awakenings.
The time — while it may be surprisingly predictable, down to the minute — really isn’t significant, says psychologist and sleep expert Alexa Kane, PsyD.
“At one point, you may have had a reason to wake up at that time, maybe in response to sleep apnea or a crying baby,” she says. “Your body may have become conditioned to it.”
Regardless, nighttime awakenings are a common phenomenon and usually harmless, especially if you easily doze off again. They do not mean you’re a bad sleeper. And they do not mean you have insomnia.
When are regular awakenings a problem?
Waking up at night, by itself, isn’t a problem. However, waking up and staying awake can be.
“If you wake up and begin to experience worry, anxiety or frustration, you likely have activated your sympathetic nervous system, your ‘fight-or-flight’ system,” says Dr. Kane. “When this happens, your brain switches from sleep mode to wake mode. Your mind may start to race, and your heart rate and blood pressure may go up. That makes it much harder to get back to sleep.”
This stress response can lead to insomnia, a full-blown sleep disorder.
Regularly waking up at night also can be a symptom of sleep apnea. If you have this disorder, you occasionally stop breathing during sleep. Besides waking you up, sleep apnea can disrupt your heart rhythm and reduce the flow of oxygen to your body.
Other symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Being jolted awake while choking or gasping for air.
- Daytime sleepiness or fatigue.
“If you have these symptoms, see a physician sleep expert,” says Dr. Kane. “Untreated sleep apnea can cause heart disease, diabetes, obesity and other health problems.”
Next time it happens, do this
The next time you wake up at 3 a.m. (or whatever time), give yourself 15 to 20 minutes to doze back into dreamland. It’s OK.
If you’re awake longer than that, it’s best to get out of bed, says Dr. Kane.
“Our brains are highly associative,” she says. “That means if we stay in bed for a long time when not sleeping, our brains can associate the bed with wakeful activities like worrying and planning, instead of sleep. Getting out of bed breaks that association.”
When you get out of bed, do something that promotes sleep:
- Practice deep breathing.
- Read something boring.
- Do not use your cell phone, check email or do anything else that might make your brain think it’s time to wake up and work.
“Relaxation exercises can help you shut off your body’s fight-or-flight response and activate a rest-and-digest response,” says Dr. Kane. “When your body calms down and you feel sleepy again, head back to bed.”
Consistency is key
The best way to put an end to late-night awakenings is to keep a consistent sleep-wake schedule. That means getting up at the same time each day, even on weekends.
Having other good sleep habits is just as important.
“Give yourself 30 to 60 minutes before bed to wind down and prepare your body and mind for sleep,” Dr. Kane says. “Use this time to plan for the next day, writing down your worries, concerns and frustrations so you don’t need to perform those mental gymnastics while in bed at 3 a.m.”
The more you follow these recommendations, the faster you’ll put your nighttime awakenings to bed once and for all, she says.
“We often see chronic insomnia develop in people with ineffective sleep routines — such as waking at 3 a.m. and staying in bed for hours trying to fall back to sleep,” says Dr. Kane. “This behavior leads to the association that bed does not mean sleep and, therefore, reinforces insomnia.”
When to see a sleep expert
When your lack of sleep starts to mess with your work performance, concentration or memory, or is causing you distress, it’s time to see a sleep expert. Your primary care provider can help you find one.
Not sure if it’s that bad? There are a number of wearable devices and apps that can help you track your shut-eye time.
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If you’re having trouble sleeping and wonder why you wake up in the middle of the night, contacting a sleep specialist for a sleep study in Jacksonville may be in order. You might have a sleep disorder, which could have serious and detrimental effects on your overall health. Early diagnosis and treatment can address the symptoms and causes before they get too bad. Before you schedule a sleep study, here are some reasons why you might wake up in the middle of the night and some helpful tips for dealing with them.
Waking Up to Go to The Bathroom
This is a perfectly natural reason for waking up. But if a person’s got another medical condition like diabetes or prostate issues, this can become disruptive. Even perfectly healthy people who drink too much water before sleeping can end up having their shut eye unnecessarily interrupted.
To fix this, try to moderate your fluid intake. If you do have to go, then keep the light levels low and avoid checking the time, so you can ease back into sleep.
Disrupted Sleep Due to Stress
Bothered by work? Toddler keeping you up at night? Fretting about the bills? Pressing matters that occupy your thoughts can end up disrupting your sleep. These can even have psychological effects.
Consider lifestyle changes to reduce these stressors. If dealing with your boss keeps you up at night and taking a toll on your health, then finding another job might be best. Separate work or stress-related items from your bedroom, the space where you rest. So keep your laptop, work phone and papers somewhere else. If these issues can’t be resolved, then try meditation or even psychotherapy, because if these stressors accumulate and aren’t treated then it’s not just your sleep that’s going to be affected.
What You Drink Could Impact Your Sleep
Some people use beer, wine or cocktails to help themselves fall asleep. While it might seem like it helps, alcohol ends up causing you to have less restful sleep. Though alcohol can make you drowsy and help you fall asleep, it actually prevents you from entering the truly restful REM-stage of sleep. Drinking a lot might also make people wake up in the middle of night to head to the bathroom or get drink of water. On the other hand, overworked individuals who’ve had too much caffeine will also have sleep issues.
There are a couple simple solutions to this problem. Obviously abstaining from alcohol and caffeinated beverages would help. Without going that far, you can avoid alcoholic or caffeinated beverages within 4-6 hours of going to bed.
Is Your Sleep Environment Comfortable?
Is the AC noisy? Does the sound of traffic reach your bedroom? Is poor ventilation causing your room to heat up? These can be real disruptors to sleep, even if you’re doing everything else right and living perfectly healthily. Try modifying your environment to be more conducive to sleep. Inform noisy neighbors to tune it down or bring it up with the landlord. Figure out a way to insulate your room from noises. Get that AC fixed, so it’ll be cool and quiet. Use earplugs if need be. If the disruptions are really bad and can’t be decreased, you might have to consider relocating.
Insomnia isn’t just a few sleepless nights, it’s an ongoing issue that lasts a while and inflicts a real toll on the mind and body. While causes and treatments can vary, insomnia can often be helped by establishing a bedtime routine that’s relaxing, quiet, and consistent. Try having warm showers and warm, non-caffeinated drinks before bedtime. Play some soft music or read a book as your day winds down. Get some exercise and avoid caffeine, cigarettes and energy drinks. Wake up at regular times and avoid oversleeping and daytime napping.
Find Answers with a Sleep Study in Jacksonville
If you’ve tried to establish a healthy sleep routine, but you still find yourself waking up at night, you might need professional help from the Jacksonville Sleep Center. Contact us today to schedule your sleep study in Jacksonville and start working on restoring your normal and restful sleep patterns.
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There are few things more enjoyable than getting a good night’s rest. You wake up feeling energized, refreshed, and ready to tackle what the day throws at you. However, for many people, getting enough sleep at night isn’t as easy as it seems—and frequent waking during the night often factors into the problem.
According to a study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, among a group of 22,740 individuals over the age of 15, 31.2% said they woke up during the night at least three times a week.
Luckily, even if you’re tossing and turning now, that doesn’t mean those regular night wakings will last indefinitely. Read on to discover what sleep specialists say could be causing you to wake at night and what to do to remedy the problem. And if you want to get healthier fast, check out The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
You drink alcohol close to bedtime
While alcohol may make you feel sleepy, drinking can also make you more prone to waking up at night, experts say. 6254a4d1642c605c54bf1cab17d50f1e
“Alcohol intake close to bedtime may lead to a delayed onset of the REM stage of sleep during the first half of the sleep period with increased fragmentation of sleep [during] the second half of the night,” explains Allison Siebern, PhD, CBSM, a consulting assistant professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine and head sleep science advisor for Proper.
You have sleep apnea
Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images
Sleep apnea often means regular nightly wakeups—and it can lead to serious health issues beyond fatigue as well.
“If you awaken during the night gasping or feeling short of breath or someone has given you feedback that you have loud snoring and/or have breathing disruptions during sleep, it is important to discuss this with your treating healthcare provider,” says Siebern.
“These could potentially be signs of obstructive sleep apnea, where there is a disruption in airflow leading to fragmented sleep. There can be instances where obstructive sleep apnea or the disruption in airflow worsens during REM sleep, leading to further fragmentation of that particular sleep stage.” Fortunately, if you have sleep apnea, both weight loss and the use of a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine can help.
You’re in pain
Whether you suffer from chronic pain or are dealing with a lumpy mattress, any type of physical pain can lead to fragmented sleep—and major exhaustion.
“People dealing with chronic or acute pain typically experience a less deep sleep and, thus, are likely to wake up in the middle of the night,” says certified sleep science coach Alex Savy, founder of SleepingOcean.com. “Naturally, pain management would be the most effective solution in this case. Additionally, a good mattress may also help. If the mattress offers close conforming and works to reduce pressure build-up in the body, it can also help alleviate the pain.”
You drink liquids too close to bedtime
While staying hydrated throughout the day is undeniably beneficial for your health, drinking liquids too close to bedtime is a frequent cause for those night wakings that are leaving you exhausted.
“One of the most common reasons behind nighttime awakenings is the need to urinate. If that’s the case, sleepers need to either reserve beverages for earlier in the evening or limit their quantity before bed,” says Savy.
For more ways to ensure you’re getting enough sleep, This Is Why Peanut Butter May Help You Get Better Sleep, Research Suggests, and for the latest healthy living news delivered to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter!
Is your formerly perfect sleeper suddenly waking up in the middle of the night or wailing every time you put her down at her regularly scheduled naptime?
You may be facing a case of sleep regression. Here’s what sleep regression is, when it usually happens, how long you can expect sleep regression to last and what you can do to help everyone sleep well again.
What is sleep regression?
Sleep regression is a period of time, usually about two to four weeks, when a baby who’s sleeping well suddenly has trouble settling down for sleep or wakes up fussing in the middle of the night.
What causes sleep regression in babies and why does it happen?
A number of factors can cause a baby discomfort or make her anxious or restless, leading to sleep regression, including:
- A growth spurt, which makes babies extra-hungry
- Reaching a new (exciting!) developmental milestone
- Disruptions in routines, like starting day care
- Traveling, which inevitably involves sleeping in a new environment
- An illness, such as a cold or an ear infection
How long does sleep regression last?
Baby sleep regressions usually last about two to four weeks — the time for your little one to get used to a new routine or milestone or to recover from an illness — although the exact duration depends on the cause and can vary from baby to baby.
In the meantime, stick to your routines and consider testing a sleep training method if necessary.
Signs of sleep regression
The signs of sleep regression can vary based on the cause of your baby’s sleep problems. Here are some signs your baby may be going through a sleep regression:
- More frequent night waking
- Trouble falling asleep at bedtime
- Increased fussiness or crankiness
- Sudden resistance to naps
When sleep regressions happen
Sleep regression can happen at any time, since it’s linked to unpredictable factors like disruptions in routines or an illness.
But there are a few periods when sleep regression is relatively foreseeable, due to growth spurts, teething or reaching new milestones:
- 3 to 4 months: The dreaded 4-month sleep regression is often the hardest for parents simply because it’s the first. There are several culprits behind baby sleep problems at this age: the pain caused by teething, hunger linked to growth spurts and the excitement of rolling over for the first time.
- 6 months: Babies often go through another growth spurt at about 6 months old. By this age, however, little ones are capable of sleeping through the night and may wake simply for snuggles — which means it might be time to test a sleep training method.
- 8 to 10 months: Many babies begin crawling when they’re around 9 months old (although some start sooner and others later) and begin standing at around 10 months. Separation anxiety is also common (and perfectly normal) around this age, which may cause your baby to wake up looking for reassurance from you during the night.
- 12 months: Sometime between 9 to 12 months, babies start standing up. At around the one-year mark, others take their first steps (although the average age is 14 months, with some babies starting earlier and others waiting until the 18-month mark). Reaching big milestones can cause temporary sleep problems.
Toddlers often go through sleep regressions at around 18 months and 24 months that may be caused by nightmares and night terrors, fear of the dark, toddler teething and separation anxiety.
Tips for managing sleep regressions in your baby
Fortunately, sleep regression is usually temporary. Follow these tips to manage sleep regression in your baby:
- Get to know and watch out for your baby’s sleep cues (like rubbing her eyes, fussiness, yawning, looking away), so you can get her to bed before she’s overtired — which makes it harder for her to fall and stay asleep.
- Stick to a consistent bedtime routine. Think dinner, bath, book, lullabies and a few comforting words.
- Ensure your baby is getting enough sleep during the day, as overtired babies are more likely to have problems sleeping at night.
- If your baby suddenly starts crying in the middle of the night, give her a few minutes to fuss before you respond; she may self-soothe back to sleep. If she doesn’t, enter the room to check that everything’s okay, pat her on the head or tummy, quietly say a reassuring word and leave. Try to avoid rocking, cuddling or feeding your baby, as this may encourage her to regularly wake for your attention. If she keeps crying, you may want to say a few comforting words from the door and leave her again, repeating as necessary at increasing intervals of time.
- Consider trying (or retrying) sleep training if your baby is at least 4 to 6 months old. Give it at least two weeks to see if it’s working.
- Give her extra attention during the day and especially before bedtime. If your baby seems stressed out by a life change or has separation anxiety, this can help her to feel more secure at night.
Can you prevent sleep regression?
Unfortunately for many bleary-eyed new parents out there who’ve struggled with a sleepless baby, there’s no way to prevent sleep regression. It’s a normal part of baby and toddlerhood.
In the meantime, following a bedtime routine and sleep schedule can help reduce the likelihood of sleep problems. Hang in there and know that this, too, shall pass.
When to call the doctor about sleep regression
While sleep regression will very likely end on its own given some time, never hesitate to call your doctor if you have concerns or questions about your baby’s sleep or the potential cause behind sleep problems (like persistent nightmares).
If you’ve consistently stuck with a sleep training method for at least two weeks and your baby’s sleep is still disturbed and you’re not sure why, consider calling your doctor to see if he or she has any insights or advice to help your baby sleep better.
If your baby isn’t sleeping because she’s sick, know the signs it’s time to call her pediatrician, most commonly including fever (101 Fahrenheit or higher if your baby is 6 months or older), bloody nasal discharge, swollen glands or an earache (babies may pull at their ears).
Sleep regression isn’t fun for anyone. Know that it’s normal and will very likely pass, given time. Stick to your normal bedtime and sleep routines, which little ones find reassuring, and your baby will hopefully be sleeping like a champ again soon.
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
Whether it’s because you’re anxious, need the loo or have simply had a nightmare, it disrupts your sleep hugely.
And once you’ve woken up, it can be surprisingly difficult to get back to sleep.
But why are you really waking up?
It turns out there are various things you can do to reduce your chances of waking from your slumber in the middle of the night.
Here are seven reasons you might be waking up in the early hours of the morning.
1. Your bedroom is too hot or too cold
Sleeping in a room that’s the wrong temperature can make it harder to drift off – and stay asleep. The Sleep Council recommend a temperature of 18 to 21 degrees Celsius.
2. You have eczema
Eczema sufferers often find their skin becomes extra itchy at night, and this can often make it harder to sleep. Consult a skin specialist who will be able to give you medication to treat the problem.
3. You have Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome is thought to affect around 10 per cent of the UK population, and despite the name, can also affect the arms, torso, head and other parts of the body. Allergy medication can make the syndrome worse too, so consult your doctor if you think you might be suffering.
4. Your mattress is too firm
Whilst you might not feel comfortable on a particularly squishy mattress, sleeping on one that’s too firm can create pressure in your hips, shoulders and lower back, The Times of India reports. Make sure your mattress works for you by getting one from a company that allows you a trial period.
5. You need a wee often
It’s normal during pregnancy for women to feel the need to wee during the night, but if you’re not pregnant and this happens to you a lot, you may have Nocturia. For most people, urine production should be low at night. Avoid drinking too much in the evening, particularly diuretics like tea and coffee.
6. You’re drinking too much alcohol
You may think a couple of glasses of wine will help you nod off, but it can often lead to disrupted sleep in the night. Try and stop drinking a while before bed to give your body time to metabolise the alcohol first.
7. You’re too stressed
If you’re stressed out and it’s disrupting your sleep, make sure to find time to unwind and de-stress before bed. Listen to relaxing music or try a colouring book or other mindful activity.
If you have insomnia for a short time (less than 3 months) it’s called short-term insomnia. Insomnia that lasts 3 months or longer is called long-term insomnia.
How much sleep you need
Everyone needs different amounts of sleep.
- adults need 7 to 9 hours
- children need 9 to 13 hours
- toddlers and babies need 12 to 17 hours
You probably do not get enough sleep if you’re constantly tired during the day.
What causes insomnia
The most common causes are:
- stress, anxiety or depression
- a room that’s too hot or cold
- uncomfortable beds
- alcohol, caffeine or nicotine
- recreational drugs like cocaine or ecstasy
- jet lag
- shift work
Conditions and medicines that can cause insomnia:
- mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder
- Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease
Many medicines for these illnesses can also cause insomnia.
Things that keep you from getting a good night’s sleep:
- long-term pain
- snoring or interrupted breathing while sleeping (sleep apnoea)
- suddenly falling asleep anywhere (narcolepsy)
- nightmares or night terrors (children can have these)
How you can treat insomnia yourself
Insomnia usually gets better by changing your sleeping habits.
go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
relax at least 1 hour before bed, for example, take a bath or read a book
make sure your bedroom is dark and quiet – use curtains, blinds, an eye mask or ear plugs if needed
exercise regularly during the day
make sure your mattress, pillows and covers are comfortable
do not smoke or drink alcohol, tea or coffee at least 6 hours before going to bed
do not eat a big meal late at night
do not exercise at least 4 hours before bed
do not watch television or use devices, like smartphones, right before going to bed, because the bright light makes you more awake
do not nap during the day
do not drive when you feel sleepy
do not sleep in after a bad night's sleep and stick to your regular sleeping hours instead
How a pharmacist can help with insomnia
You can buy tablets or liquids (sometimes called sleeping aids) from a pharmacy that may help you sleep better.
Some contain natural ingredients (valerian, lavender or melatonin) while others, like Nytol, are an antihistamine.
They cannot cure insomnia but may help you sleep better for 1 to 2 weeks. They should not be taken for any longer.
Some of these products can have side effects, for instance, they may make you drowsy. This could make it difficult for you to do certain things like drive.
Check with your doctor before taking anything for your sleep problems.
Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:
- changing your sleeping habits has not worked
- you have had trouble sleeping for months
- your insomnia is affecting your daily life in a way that makes it hard for you to cope
Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: how to contact a GP
It's still important to get help from a GP if you need it. To contact your GP surgery:
- visit their website
- use the NHS App
- call them
Treatment from a GP
A GP will try to find out what’s causing your insomnia so you get the right treatment.
Sometimes you’ll be referred to a therapist for cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
This can help you change the thoughts and behaviours that keep you from sleeping.
You may be referred to a sleep clinic if you have symptoms of another sleep disorder such as sleep apnoea.
GPs now rarely prescribe sleeping pills to treat insomnia. Sleeping pills can have serious side effects and you can become dependent on them.
Sleeping pills are only prescribed for a few days, or weeks at the most, if:
Getting a good night’s sleep can be hard enough, but if you’re one of the seven in 10 Americans who share a bed at night, it can be even tougher. Just ask the doctors, researchers and sleep experts who say that sleeping next to someone else can keep you from getting the zzz’s you need.
“You might be bothered by a bed partner’s snoring, excessive movement during the night, excessive generation of body heat [or] crowding the bed,” said Dr. James K. Wyatt, director of Behavioral Sleep Medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “There are all sorts of environmental circumstances.”
The Hidden Cost of Sleep Deprivation
From snoring to a late-night Netflix addiction, here are five ways your partner may be keeping you up at night, and how you can find your way back to a restful night’s sleep.
1) Their snoring keeps you up
Research shows that partners of people who snore or have sleep apnea are more likely to wake up during the night, and they’re twice as likely to report fatigue and daytime sleepiness, increased muscular-skeletal pain symptoms and increased marital dissatisfaction, according to Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler, the co-director for the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Sleep Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota. “There’s very ample evidence that their sleep quality is very much affected,” he said.
One strategy is to treat the snorer while the other is to lessen the impact of the snoring. That can include using earplugs or a white noise generator to drown out the sound. Wyatt said it’s important to consider whether the person is a chronic snorer or someone who only snores when they’re on their back. It’s also important to distinguish if the problem occurs when they’ve been drinking alcohol or when they have excessive nasal congestion. “ … Those are pretty easy to modify,” he said. But gasping or pausing during breathing could be signs of sleep apnea and should be looked at by a doctor.
2) Night owls and early birds don’t mix
Blame it on circadian rhythm: Night owls naturally feel sleepy later in the evening, while early birds feel compelled to turn in early and wake up with the sun. Dr. Eric Zhou, a sleep medicine expert at Harvard Medical School, said this can lead to conflict for couples because their only time together is often at the end of the day. ”If somebody physically feels their body’s internal clock is telling them, ‘You should be in bed by 9 p.m’ [but] their partner doesn’t naturally feel sleepy, their partner wants to go to bed with them because they want to be a good husband or wife,” Zhou said. “But they end up spending hours in bed not sleeping because they just physiologically are not there,” which can create frustration.
That’s something doctors agree you want to avoid at all costs — even if it means going to bed and waking up at separate times, which is a must for shift workers and couples on different schedules. Morgenthaler recommended each partner be as quiet as possible during the other person’s sleep, even if it means setting out the next day’s clothes ahead of time to lessen morning disruptions. “Talk about it and do a little bit of planning,” he said.
Arianna Huffington on sleep and avoiding burnout
3) They’re working on their night moves
Whether it’s tossing and turning or periodic limb movement disorder, which the National Institute on Aging says cause people to move their arms or legs every 20 to 40 seconds, it may be worth buying a new mattress with ample space for each partner. You can also opt for bed surfaces that are known to isolate motion, like memory foam. This especially goes for couples whose kids climb into their bed at night, or the majority of dog and cat owners who let their pets sleep in their bed. Both children and pets move around more at night than adults do, while decreasing your precious mattress real estate. Pets can also cause allergies to flare up and germs to spread.
“The goal here would be to go after the root of the problem,” Wyatt said. “Make sure that pets have their own place to sleep. Make sure that children have learned good sleep habits on their own and feel safe and secure in their own bed.”
4) They don’t agree on the temperature
The National Sleep Foundation recommends 65 degrees as the ideal bedroom temperature, but that far from settles it for couples.
For Mary Helen Rogers, vice president of marketing and communications for the Better Sleep Council, the mantra “cool head and warm feet make for a good night’s sleep” leads the way. She suggested setting the bedroom thermostat to the lowest preferred temperature and having the person who wants to be warmer put on socks or invest in a weighted blanket. You could also get two twin size comforters or duvets so that each person has their own and can layer up or down as needed. There are also mattresses and pillows advertised with cooling elements like gel or moisture-wicking fabric.
5) They’re not winding down before bed
Experts recommend sticking to an evening routine that includes winding down an hour before bedtime. “For somebody who goes out and runs for 10 miles, it would seem ludicrous for that person not to wind down afterwards,” Zhou said. “At the same time, we would watch a really awesome Emmy-award winning TV show, keep our brains firing, and expect that when we close the iPad, we’re going to fall asleep.” The same goes for scrolling through social media and answering emails, which can be a tricky balance for partners.
“The priority is to find a way that you both get quality sleep, because that’s an investment in your relationship,” said Dr. Wendy Troxel, a senior behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation who studies the links between close relationships and sleep. “When we’re sleep deprived, our mood suffers, we’re poorer at making decisions and problem solving, our communications skills suffer, we often have reduced frustration tolerance, and we’re less empathic.” All of which, she notes, are keys to maintaining a healthy relationship in the first place.
Do you ever find yourself regularly waking-up in the middle of the night and manically wondering how to get back to sleep? More specifically between 2am and 4am?
However frustrating, it’s actually very normal to wake-up throughout the night and, if we weren’t innately programmed for nocturnal awakenings, we’d probably be extinct as a species.
That being said, we’d still like to learn some practical tips on how to stop waking-up at inconvenient times and, with National Sleep Awareness Week upon us, there’s no time like the present. We asked leading sleep therapist and author of Fast Asleep Wide Awake, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, to shed some light…
Why do we wake in the night?
Our sleep engineering dates back to the days of being a hunter-gatherer when our world wasn’t as safe as it is today and we had to maintain a degree of vigilance in order to survive.
Originally, it’s likely that cavemen would have woken-up between 2am and 4am to check for danger and it’s a habit that is still engrained for some of us. However, with us relatively safe from danger in modern life, it is now more likely to be because our mind and body may feel as if we’ve had enough sleep already. It’s also a time when, if there are unresolved emotional issues and stresses going on in our lives, they’ll often surface for a look-in. It’s as if our problems and worries pop-up when we are being quiet and still enough to deal with them.
The idea of the hours between 2am and 4am being emotionally important is supported by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which dictates that this period of sleep is about emotional rebalancing and dealing with fear, anger and frustration.
Ironically, if we habitually miss out on these vital, rebalancing hours of sleep, we can wake-up feeling more anxious and less happy. TCM also highlights these hours as being a vital time for liver detoxification so, if our diet is laden with stimulants such as refined sugars, caffeine and alcohol, this can overwork the liver causing waking and overheating (typically waking-up feeling restless, hot and maybe even in sweats).
How to prevent ourselves from waking up in the middle of the night
If you are one of the lucky parents whose child has been sleeping through the night without any problems, there can still be times when they wake unexpectedly. There are lots of reasons why this might happen. Maybe they aren’t getting enough exercise during the day and they aren’t tired enough, or they could be hungry, having bad dreams or teething again.
Tips to try if they keep waking up
Tip #1: Dinner, bath and story
photo of toddler reading with mum
A bedtime routine can help your wee one relax and sleep better. Maybe it’s tea, bath, story, then cuddles and don’t forget some milk, then brush their teeth. Just try and do it the same way, at the same time, every evening.
Tip #2: Night lights
Night-lights aren’t just a good idea for your baby – your older toddler might still like one in their room.
Tip #3: Explain night time rules
It can help to tell your toddler during the day that everyone sleeps in their own bed. So when they get up to pay you a visit in the middle of the night, just calmly put them back. Chances are that you’ll have to do this a number of times before the message strikes home.
Tip #4: Keep calm
If your toddler gets up through the night (and we all know they love doing that), just calmly get up and take them back to their own bed straightaway.
Tip #5: Take your time
If your toddler cries during the night, don’t go and see them immediately. Wait just a minute or two and they may settle themselves.
Tip #6: Track nap times
Long naps in the afternoon can have a big impact on sleep. Remember your child is growing all the time, so their needs and habits are constantly changing. Reduce the length of their nap gradually and they’ll hopefully be back sleeping through the night again.
Tip #7: Nightmare help
photo of toddler awake in the dark
Bad dreams and nightmares are something a lot of young children experience at some stage. Be careful what they’re watching or reading before they go to bed. You’d be surprised how easily these things can bother your little one when they’re trying to sleep.
Tip #8: Changes
Changes in routine can affect your child’s sleep patterns. Simple things like starting nursery or going to a child minder for the first time can impact their sleep. You might not be able to avoid these changes, but it can help if you know why it’s happening.
Tip #9: Play helps sleep
photo of toddler putting toy in box
A walk (even just to the shops and back), or a run outside in the fresh air, or playing hide and seek inside, can all help your child to sleep better at night. Here are some tips for keeping active indoors and outdoors that will help them burn up some energy.
What the professionals say
“Some toddlers like getting out of their bed and coming into yours – and that can be hard to stop. A good way to deal with this is at some point, well before bedtime, explain to your child that everyone sleeps in their own bed at night. If they do decide to get up or come into your bed, take them back and settle them down gently but firmly. Be prepared to repeat this, and don’t give in.”
A Tayside Health Advisor
Ready Steady Toddler has lots of information on helping your baby sleep and establishing routines. If you think your baby is not settling at night because of a health issue, contact your GP or health visitor for additional support.
Sleep Support Line
Sleep Scotland’s free Sleep Support Line offers advice and support to parents and carers, or to young people themselves, for any child aged 18 months to 18 years with a sleep problem. Call 0800 138 6565 or email [email protected] to get in touch. BSL users can contact the service using contactSCOTLAND-BSL.
Their Sleep Advisors and Sleep Counsellors will complete an initial sleep history, asking questions on current routines, diet, exercise, and the sleep problem. They will then create a sleep plan based on the responses. For those parents who require it, follow up calls are also available. Visit the Sleep Scotland website for more information and advice.
Waking up for short periods during a sleep cycle is normal, but if you wake up and can’t get back to sleep for a long time, this can become a significant problem.
There are many possible causes for so-called sleep maintenance insomnia, from obstructive sleep apnea (a sleep disorder where breathing repeatedly stops and starts, waking you up) to excessive amounts of blue light shortly before bed (for example, scrolling through social media on your smartphone). There are many possible solutions, such as creating a bedtime routine including various relaxation techniques or creating a consistent sleep schedule.
There are some problems, though, that can be solved by a simple change of sleep position. If you wake up and can’t get back to sleep because of pain from sleeping, we have three easy secrets to help you. Here they are:
- To sleep better with lower back pain, sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees. No offense, but your legs are pretty heavy, and especially if your mattress isn’t super supportive, you can put pressure on your spine by sleeping on your back with your legs out flat. If this works well for you, consider investing in a nice memory foam knee pillow .
- To get a good night’s sleep with upper back, neck, or shoulder pain, sleep on your back with a thin pillow, or sleep on your side with a pillow that’s higher under your neck than under your head. Both of these achieve the same ultimate goal – keep your spine straight from neck to tailbone – in different ways. When you sleep on your back, propping your head up too high can lead to neck and upper back strain; when you sleep on your side , you need a pillow about the height of your shoulder (distance from your head to the mattress), otherwise it can lead to neck or shoulder strain.
- For better sleep with acid reflux, try a wedge pillow or sleeping on your left side. It may be tempting to prop your head up with a bunch of pillows, but you really want to invest in a wedge: propping up just your head, instead of your whole upper body, doesn’t do as much good for your acid reflux, and it will probably also cause you neck strain. Your left side is a good idea if you’re a side sleeper because of the orientation of your stomach: the tubes leading in and out are on your right side, so sleeping on your left helps your dinner stay down.
Ultimately, though, changing your sleeping position can only do so much if your bedding is battered. If you’ve had your mattress for more than eight years or so, it’s probably sagging in the middle and is no longer supportive.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, chronic insomnia can cause fatigue, trouble concentrating, memory problems, low motivation, high blood pressure, and more. So, think about getting a new mattress as the best investment for your health and future happiness.
Hands up if you’re part of the 3am club? And when we say 3am club, we don’t mean partying until 3, we mean finding yourselves wide awake in the early hours of a morning!
For many of us, 3am is the witching hour, for others it may be 2am or 4am. Whichever it is, it’s important to note that it is relatively common and it is harmless – if you drop back off to sleep soon after. It doesn’t mean you can’t sleep and it doesn’t mean you have insomnia.
Nobody sleeps through the night
Waking up at night isn’t a problem – In fact, we wake several times a night anyway (from noise, partner disturbance or being too hot/cold) and most of the time you won’t even realise – apart from the groggy trips to the loo! Our sleep runs in about 90-minute cycles and within that cycle we go through different stages of sleep. These are punctuated with brief awakenings. As we go through the night we spend more time in lighter sleep which is why brief awakenings can feel more pronounced.
Waking up and staying awake can be a problem
If you wake up and don’t go back to sleep immediately, you may find yourself tossing and turning, thinking about the jobs you need to do tomorrow or watching every minute of the clock change.
You begin to experience worry, anxiety or frustration sending your body into ‘fight or flight’ response. When this happens, your mind may start to race, your heart rate increases and your blood pressure raises.
What not to do
Clock watching: As soon as you start to clock the time, and start worrying about having to get up in another three hours, that’s when the anxiety sets in and prevents us from being able to fall asleep..
Stay in bed: If you can’t get back to sleep within 20 minutes, get up and go do something relaxing – relaxation techniques, reading, making a milky drink in low lighting. Staying in bed awake decreases our sleep efficiency meaning we associate the bed with activities such as being awake, planning, worrying etc and not for sleeping.
How to practice good sleep hygiene
- Consistency is key. Go to bed and get up at roughly the same time, every day to help programme the body to sleep better
- Make sure you give yourself at least 30 minutes to wind down before bed. It’s the time to let go of any worries and negative thoughts and process the day. Choose what works for you whether that’s having a warm bath, meditating, reading or listening to soothing music.
- Bedroom environment. Keep it cool, quiet and dark to stop unnecessary disruptions. Make sure you’re sleeping on a comfortable bed too.
- Keep active. It’s well known that people who exercise regularly tend to sleep better. Releasing pent up tension through exercise is also highly beneficial, helping to banish stress before bedtime.
- Avoid screen time before bed. Try to resist picking up your phone to scroll through social media or emails and consider switching off the TV too. The blue light hinders melatonin production and the content stimulates the brain making it feel more alert.
Rule out any underlying health conditions
There are a few medical conditions that can contribute to difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep including sleep apnoea. If you persistently have trouble with sleeping through the night, the next steps would be to see your GP to consider any underlying causes and to discuss options which could include cognitive behavioural therapy.
Consistently waking up in the middle of the night for seemingly no reason is unfortunately very common — and exactly as frustrating as it sounds. If it just happens once in a while, it’s not that bad. But when it starts happening every night for days, weeks, or even months on end, that’s when you start feeling desperate. You’re tired, you have no idea what’s going on, and you don’t know how to prevent it from happening. To figure out how to fall asleep and stay asleep (at least until your alarm clock goes off in the morning), you first need to figure out what your body is trying to tell you when you keep waking up in the middle of the night.
There are likely plenty of reasons you’re having trouble staying asleep. If you’re lucky, it can be an easy fix — like, something in your sleep environment that you can adjust. If you’re not lucky, though, it could be something that requires outside help or maybe even medical attention. To get to the bottom of it, you need to examine your sleeping habits, as well as pay attention to what you’re doing and how you’re feeling throughout the day. The below suggestions could explain exactly what’s going on with you and your sleeping habits – but remember, if this is a serious issue that can’t be fixed no matter what you try, you should seek the help of a professional. Sleep is too important to ignore!
There’s Too Much Light Around You
Your sleep environment makes a huge difference in your quality of sleep, and light is one of the most important external factors that can affect sleep, according to Healthy Sleep. When there’s too much light around you, it triggers your internal clock with the message that it’s daytime, and you need to wake up. Excess light can come from your phone, your television if it’s left on, or a nightlight if you don’t like total darkness. A lot of the time, it’s from things you can’t control, like the sweep of headlights across the wall or someone else turning on a light when they wake up. Because of this, your best bet is to sleep with an eye mask on. It helps create more of a total darkness feel and keeps out excess light.
You’re Too Hot
If you’re falling asleep in a sweatshirt and/or sweatpants under lots of blankets, you might want to cut down on some layers. According to the National Sleep Foundation, being too hot can keep you from getting a good night’s sleep. Even if you’re not bundled under blankets, the temperature in your room could just be too warm. One sleep expert says that the best temperature to sleep in is between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. He explained to Byrdie that this will "help the body maintain a temperature slightly lower than 98.6 degrees," which is ideal.
You’re Drinking The Wrong Things At The Wrong Time
The food and drink you consume throughout the day can affect how well you sleep — especially the drinks. Caffeine is great for staying wide awake during the day, but unfortunately, it can also do the same in the middle of the night. If you drink a cup of coffee (or anything containing caffeine) after about 3 p.m. in the afternoon, you’re risking a restless night.
The same goes for alcohol. You might think a nightcap helps you sleep better, but it can actually lead to you waking up in the middle of the night. Marc Leavey, MD, a primary care specialist with Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, told Prevention, "Alcohol has a sedative effect that, if you drink enough, can put you to sleep quite easily. Over the first few hours, you metabolize that alcohol, with the alcohol producing a form of sleep that can prevent the healthy rapid eye movement sleep that is most restful." In other words, it messes with REM so much that it makes you wake up.
You Might Be Addicted To Your Smartphone
Random light getting into your room might be bad for sleep, but the absolute worst kind of light is coming from your smartphone. If you consistently wake up in the middle of the night, it could be a sign that you need to step away from your smartphone. Research has found that the blue light emanating from smartphones inhibits melatonin, a sleep hormone. That same research found that smartphone light was more invasive than any other kind of light, including from TVs or laptops.
You might not realize it, but your phone could be lighting up throughout the night with notifications, even if it’s on vibrate. Your best bet is to stop using your phone an hour before bed, then store it in a drawer to keep the light away from your eyes.
“Everyone wakes up five to seven times per night between finishing complete sleep cycles,” says sleep expert Shelby Harris, PsyD, author of The Women’s Guide to Overcoming Insomnia. “Each awakening is extremely brief in nature, and we fall right back asleep with amnesia for it.”
Or, at least, that’s the way it’s supposed to go. That said, experiencing two or three wake-ups that you actually remember is common and is generally NBD for your snooze time—so long as you’re able to return to sleep relatively quickly, Dr. Harris adds. Age can play a factor here, given that younger people tend to awaken once or twice a night briefly, whereas older people tend to have more “broken, shallow sleep.”
No matter your age, though, what matters more than the number of times you wake up (and remember it) is the the duration of how long the disruption lasts—and whether your mornings feel messed up as a result. “You could awaken only twice at night, but if one awakening is for an hour many times a week, that’s likely a problem,” Dr. Harris says.
So, if you’re feeling exhausted from your broken sleep and haven’t been able to pinpoint a culprit, check out the top five reasons for waking up in the middle of the night (beyond being part of a normal sleep-wake cycle) that Dr. Harris sees with her clients. And, as with any issue having to do with your personal health, seeking the advice of a medical professional may help you move forward effectively.
Below, find 5 common reasons that might explain why you’re waking up in the middle of the night (and what to do about each).
It could be your own snores that are the problem or a bedmate. Regardless, since snoring can be a health concern, seeing a sleep doctor for snoring would be a smart next step.
2. Nature calling…a lot
Hell hath no bleary-eyed fury like having to drag your feet to the bathroom at 3 a.m. If you see yourself making that crawl nightly and then find it hard to get back to sleep, try to hydrate mindfully. While good hydration can lead to a better night’s sleep overall, Dr. Harris says to steer clear of fluids three hours before bedtime. Or perhaps, try to keep your anxiety in check, because it could be anxiety at play, not your beverage intake.
3. Discomfort that leads to tossing and turning
I feel this on every level—particularly physically. I assume it’s why I always sleep better in the comfy queen bed of my childhood versus the rush-order budget mattress in my apartment. While I understand (firsthand) that investing in a new mattress isn’t the easiest of quick fixes to make, now might be the time to switch your blanket or streamline your pillow situation.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends a temp between 60°F and 67°F for optimal snoozing, so consider the climate of your sleeping sanctuary. “Your bedroom should be cool and comfortable,” says Dr. Harris. “We often go to bed cold and have the room warmer than ideal, only to wake up middle of the night due to sweating.”
If you still need to cocoon yourself at bedtime, cooling blankets are available to you, as are cooling pillows, sheets, and mattress inserts. And for an option that doesn’t involve cash? Strip down and sleep naked!
5. Anxiety or an active brain
It’s super-possible that while your body might be snug as a bug, your mind is running running a marathon of sorts. That, too, can keep you awake. It’s also possible that you may be able to drift off, “but once you’ve been asleep for a few hours, you might awaken between sleep cycles, and whatever was on your brain before bed is likely going to be there—and stronger—middle of the night,” Dr. Harris says.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for this, of course, but one recommendation sleep specialist Nate Watson, MD, previously told Well+Good was to keep a worry journal before bed. Try jotting down what’s nagging at you for a few nights in a row if you find yourself sick with worry. And no matter what may be the cause, armed with new and specific knowledge, the hope is that pleasant (uninterrupted!) dreams can be in your near future.
By the way, social jet lag might be the reason you sleep terribly on Sundays. And if you have trouble falling asleep on the plane, meet the chiropractor-approved neck pillow of your dreams!
When was the last time you slept through the night without waking up? According to the National Sleep Foundation , sleeping through the night is more common among children and teens, but adults typically wake up once or twice. If you are able to fall back asleep within a few minutes, great! It’s sweet dreams until the alarm goes off, the kids jump on the bed, or there’s a wet dog nose in your face.
You may, however, be among the millions of people who wake up more often or who find it difficult to go back to sleep once awake during the night. This is sometimes called middle of the night insomnia, and it can be caused by a multitude of factors. The good news is each of these situations can be remedied once you recognize them.
#1 Hot flashes
These intensely annoying and uncomfortable temperature changes can go on during the perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause years. Sometimes it can be so bad you need to change your sleepwear in the middle of the night. By then you are really awake!
How to fix it. Several herbal remedies may help reduce or even eliminate hot flashes, including black cohosh, valerian root, and licorice root. You can wear moisture-wicking PJs and put moisture-wicking sheets on your bed. To help you stay cool, you can try a cooling pad (similar to a heating pad) under your sheets.
If you had dinner at 6 or 7 PM and didn’t eat after that and you wake up around 2 or 3 AM and are very alert, you could be responding to low blood sugar and hunger. Your brain may be telling you it’s time to eat by revving up cortisol production, which in turn wakes you up. Your wake-up call may be accompanied by symptoms of hypoglycemia, such as sweating, shaking, confusion, and lightheadedness, so keep a fix by your bedside.
How to fix it. You should eat something, but what? Raw honey is one choice because it’s natural and helps to stabilize your blood sugar slowly. Other options include 100 percent fruit juice (diluted if desired), applesauce, or dried fruit. To avoid having to get out of bed (and thus increasing the chances of having trouble going back to sleep), keep one of these foods on your bedside table if mid-sleep hunger is a frequent problem.
#3 Irregular sleep patterns
Do you burn the midnight oil more than one night a week, sleep in on the weekends, go to bed at random hours, and then find yourself getting sleepy during the day? If you follow an irregular sleep schedule, you can play havoc on your health.
How to fix it. Establish a regular bedtime and wake up schedule–it is critical for healthful sleep. As much as possible, adjust your routine so you go to bed and get up at about the same time every night and morning. Once you establish a pattern, your body will adjust and so will your sleep. Try drinking some almond milk before retiring, as it is a great source of calcium, which helps the brain make the sleep hormone, melatonin.
One of the more common painful conditions that can cause mid-sleep awakenings is menstrual cramps and associated pain. These can be accompanied by other annoying symptoms, such as night sweats. Others experience chronic pain, restless legs syndrome, temporary pain from excess exercise, fibromyalgia, or a headache.
How to fix it. Address the cause of pain before you go to bed, using natural remedies when at all possible. Depending on the pain , you may use a hot water bottle, feverfew for headaches and rheumatoid arthritis, turmeric for arthritis and heartburn, ginger for joint and muscle pain, or devil’s claw for lower back pain. Magnesium either orally or applied as an oil to the skin can relieve muscle as well as nerve pain.
#5 Sleep apnea
More than 18 million American adults have sleep apnea, and millions more may not yet be diagnosed. Waking up in the middle of the night multiple times is a classic sign of sleep apnea, and it leaves those who live with this condition fatigued during the day.
How to fix it. You should be checked by a qualified health professional to determine the extent of your sleep apnea. Some doctors recommend using a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine; there also are dental appliances that reposition the tongue and lower jaw to help improve breathing. Lifestyle changes include losing weight, not smoking, and avoiding alcohol. Sleeping on your side rather than your back can help significantly.
Many of us find it difficult if not impossible to turn off the stressors of the day once we hit the pillow. Even once we fall asleep, the stressors haunt us and can keep us awake during the night.
How to fix it. Fortunately, there are several effective measures you can take to help with sleep when it comes to stress. One is magnesium , which not only can help you get to sleep; it can also assist in deepening sleep and staying asleep during the night. This mineral prepares you for sleep by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which relaxes you. It also regulates melatonin, the hormone that guides your sleep-wake cycle. Magnesium also attaches to receptors of the neurotransmitter called GABA.
You also might consider L-theanine supplements . This amino acid is in green tea leaves and can boost the level of calming neurotransmitters (e.g., GABA, serotonin, and dopamine) involved in regulating sleep. Meditation, deep breathing exercises, progressive relaxation, listening to tranquil music, and guided visualization are other suggestions to try if you wake up during the night and can’t get back to sleep due to stress.
The need to urinate more than one or two times a night likely means you are consuming too much liquid and/or caffeine before bedtime.
How to fix it. If you drink caffeinated beverages, you may need to stop them at least 8 hours before retiring. Limit other liquid consumption to just a few sips for several hours before bedtime. You will have to experiment to determine how much you can drink before bedtime to significantly reduce your need to pee during the night.
Are you one of many people who wake up between 2 and 4 am? After you wake up, It may take some time for you to fall back to sleep. The quality of your sleep is poor, and you don’t feel refreshed and restored when you wake up. You may even be getting sick more often as a result. What’s going on?
Sleep disturbances are an often ignored yet common problem that can lead to more health issues. In this article, we’ll discuss the reasons why you’re waking up and what you can do about it.
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Fatty Liver Disease and Your Circadian Rhythm
Usually, the most common cause of waking up between 1-4: 00 am is a liver problem.
It may be that you have liver inflammation or fatty liver disease, also known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Fatty liver disease is a condition where fat builds up in your liver because of a poor diet, blood sugar problems, or accumulated toxins.
It is estimated that fatty liver disease affects 20-30% of the population in Western countries. Often, there are no clear symptoms of fatty liver disease.
When your liver becomes burdened by accumulated fat, it can no longer efficiently and effectively cleanse and detoxify your body. Since toxins cannot be safely neutralized and removed from the body, the risk of degenerative diseases increases. Fatty liver disease almost always coincides with insulin resistance and the development of type 2 diabetes.
What does the liver have to do with waking up between 1-4am?
Our circadian rhythm is our master ‘internal clock’ and ensures that all of our organs and internal biological systems work harmoniously together. It is during the period between 1 and 3 AM that the liver works it’s hardest to cleanse and detoxify our body while we sleep.
So if your liver is slow and stagnant from an accumulation of fat during the liver cleansing time (1-4am), the body will try to allocate more energy for detoxification and trigger your nervous system to wake you up.
How do I know if I have fatty liver disease?
Your doctor can order blood tests or can conduct an ultrasound to test for this condition. If your liver enzymes and other liver biomarkers come back normal, you still may have a fatty liver – an ultrasound is the most sensitive test for evaluation.
What are the consequences of fatty liver disease?
If you have fatty liver disease your chances of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease dramatically increases. Your sleep can be impacted, and your energy levels can drop.
It’s common for patients with fatty liver disease to have persistent fatigue. Also, when a person has fatty liver disease, it can be challenging to lose weight. The liver must be healthy to effectively burn stored fat.
What Can You Do?
A functional medicine evaluation would be very beneficial. Not only would the confirmatory tests be ordered but additional testing would be done to assess underlying biochemical imbalances. Addressing underlying conditions before they cause more significant symptoms is crucial.
A functional medicine doctor does not only address a liver problem but can help support the healthy function of your entire body. That means if you have an underlying bacterial infection in your intestines that is causing your liver to be overwhelmed, addressing that infection will speed up liver healing.
You can also help your body restore optimal liver function by overhauling your diet. A diet that is high in refined grains, high-fat animal protein, conventional (not organic) produce and refined sugars will burden your liver with too many toxins and too much fat.
A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, lean proteins and healthy fats will provide your liver (and the rest of your body) with much needed nutritional support for optimal function.