When you think of a perfect night of sleep, do you imagine 8 hours of uninterrupted, almost dead-like sleep? For most, this sounds like a heavenly dream. But in reality, this is something of a rarity. In fact, it’s more common, and actually more natural, for humans to rouse multiple times per night. But why do we wake up at night, what’s a healthy number of awakenings, and how can we wake up fewer times? Let’s explore.
During the shallow stages of sleep, individuals often regain consciousness or at least become more aware of their environment, before drifting back into a deeper state of sleep as the cycle repeats itself. These awakenings can be exacerbated by outside factors like noise, artificial light, a partner moving, or other causes. Combating such outside stimulus by creating a cool, dark and quiet bedroom can help minimize these interruptions.
The standard sleep cycle includes regular awakenings. But individuals suffering from stress due to physical or mental conditions can experience more frequent disruptions to their natural sleep cycle.
Tips for waking up fewer times at night
A key technique in dealing with sleep interruptions is to avoid over-stimulation when getting close to bedtime. Meditating, reading a paperback book, or trying some breathing exercises can narrow one’s focus around bedtime. These activities also allow the mind and body to stay calm and relaxed, to better facilitate a return to a sleepy state.
Some awakenings simply satisfy the urge for a bathroom break or a body repositioning. But ongoing frequent awakenings are best left to your doctor or health care professional to diagnose and treat. They could be symptoms of a more serious issue like insomnia or sleep apnea.