If you find yourself staring at the ceiling in the middle of the night, getting out of bed, or watching the clock and counting down the hours until your alarm goes off, you’re not alone. Twenty-seven percent of American adults report having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep most nights. While waking up during the night is normal, waking up between sleep cycles or for long periods of time can disrupt your rest and leave you groggy the next day. Sometimes, nighttime awakenings are due to an underlying condition that needs medical attention such as sleep apnea, chronic pain, or restless leg syndrome. But for many people, there are simple actions to help reduce the number of times you wake during the night. Find some tips below!
Caffeine, alcohol, and food
While coffee is great for a morning boost, caffeine is notorious for stealing precious sleep. Limiting your caffeine throughout the day and cutting yourself off by 2pm can help curb time spent awake during the night. While alcohol can promote sleep onset, those evening drinks can disrupt your sleep as the night goes on, leaving you tossing and turning. Make sure you finish your last drink at least 3 hours before bed. Also, limiting how much liquid you drink in the evening in general can spare you trips to the bathroom during the night. Finally, avoid large, heavy meals too close to bedtime. Eating too much can cause indigestion that might wake you up.
Make your bedroom a cave
A comfortable bedroom can make all the difference for helping keep you asleep. The ideal sleeping environment is cool, dark, and quiet. If you can, keep your bedroom between 60-68 degrees. You can block out extra light with curtains or an eye mask. If noises like your refrigerator, air conditioner, or even the neighbor’s TV wake you up, we recommend trying a white noise or sound masking machine to block out those bothersome sounds.
Exercise and De-stress
Regular exercise has shown to improve sleep in general, but watch out if you’re doing it too close to bed. Working out right before you try to sleep can leave you too amped up to easily drift off and stay asleep. Stress can also be a major reason you’re waking up during the night. Worrying about your job, finances, or relationships can leave you tossing and turning. Try unwinding before you turn in, maybe with some meditation, a warm shower or bath, or journaling. Making tomorrow’s to-do list is also a great way to de-stress before bed.
Get out of bed
It sounds counterintuitive, but if you’re waking up for long chunks of time during the night, the best thing you can do is get out of bed. If you find yourself awake for more than 20 minutes, get out of bed and do something calm and quiet like reading or listening to music until you feel sleepy enough to go back to bed. Avoid turning to your phone or tablet during these times though – the blue light from the screens will make it even harder to go back to sleep!