Picture your last few nights of sleep. You fell asleep with ease, barely even remembering lying in bed before drifting away. But then the problem that plagues many sleepers happens; you wake up unexpectedly, for seemingly no reason, in the middle of the night. Maybe once, maybe more times than you care to remember. Does this sound familiar?
You’re not alone. The National Sleep Foundation found that 60% of Americans experienced a sleep problem almost every night, including waking in the night. While some wake time during nightly rest is normal, spending large portions of the evening lying awake staring at the ceiling is not. It can lead to feeling unrested the next day, reduced focus at work, and a slew of other unpleasant symptoms associated with sleep deficiency.
To prevent these side effects and stay asleep through the majority of your night, a good first place to start is the why behind the problem. Here are 5 reasons you might be having trouble staying asleep at night.
Stress is a commonality among many sleeping problems. It might be that you stay awake in bed for hours every night cycling through work problems or personal issues. Stress often causes insomnia by making it difficult to fall asleep or by waking you throughout the night.
The National Sleep Foundation notes that stress causes hyperarousal, which can disrupt the balance between sleep and wakefulness.
2. Drinking alcohol before bed
Consuming alcohol right before bed (or even a few hours prior to bedtime) might make you feel sleepy. But alcohol is actually a silent sleep robber. It can alter your normal periods of deep sleep and REM sleep, which are the two most restorative sleep phases. As your evening cocktail wears off, the latter part of your nightly sleep will be restless and easily interrupted.
3. Going to the bathroom frequently
If you wake up to go to the bathroom 2 or more times at night, you might have an overactive bladder or suffer from nocturia. Nocturia is a more common condition than you might expect, with over 1/3 of adults over 30 having the same problem. Your healthcare provider can diagnose this if you think it might be causing your awakenings.
4. Suboptimal bedroom environment
Your bedroom environment is another key factor when determining why you might be waking up so often at night. Maybe the room is too warm, too noisy or there’s too much light. Our bodies like a certain light, temperature, and noise level to stay asleep for 8 hours. Your environment can keep you from getting a good night’s sleep and instead cause you to wake up during REM sleep.
5. Having an uncomfortable mattress
If you keep tossing and turning when sleeping, wake up tired, or have back pain, then it might be time for a new mattress.
8 Ideas to Stay Asleep Longer
Ready to find relief? We’ve got 8 practical ways to make sure you stay asleep and begin the next day feeling fresh and energized.
Take time to relax in the evenings– Evenings are meant to be relaxing. So, dedicate your evening to be a sacred time to enjoy pleasant, low-impact level activities. Nothing work-related should be part of this wind-down period.
Dim the lights at least an hour before bed– Dimmers on your house lights can help your body naturally wind down. Reducing screen time on digital devices or using a blue light filter on your smartphone or tablet in the evening can also ensure your body is no longer in alert-mode.
Adjust the temperature– Keep the temperature between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s considered the optimal range for non-interrupted sleep. A bedroom any warmer or cooler than that can wake you up unexpectedly.
Stop drinking coffee after 2:00 p.m.– Caffeine tends to keep the brain activated for longer than you’d imagine. If you keep drinking it into the late afternoon, it will still be in your system by bedtime. You may initially fall asleep with ease, but the caffeine in your system could come back to haunt you in the middle of the night.
Cut the alcohol at least four hours before bed– To prevent the negative effects of alcohol on your sleep, consume your last adult beverage 4 hours before bedtime. This will give it time to cycle its way through your body so it’s not causing restless sleep later in the night.
Reduce fluid intake before bed– If you’re finding that you wake up too often because of the need to hit the bathroom, try to be more mindful of when you consume any drinks. Avoid gulping down anything within the last hour before bed and use the bathroom one last time before you’re ready for sleep.
Replace your mattress– Getting a new mattress could be the answer to transforming your sleep. You spend a third of your day sleeping, so it’s worth investing in one that’s suitable to your sleep needs!
Practice good sleep hygiene and prioritize sleep– Finally, don’t forget to constantly make improvements to your lifestyle and sleeping habits so you can get uninterrupted rest every night. By acknowledging all the items on this list, you’ll be practicing great sleep hygiene, and before long, sleeping soundly through the night.