Waking up during the night is quite common, whether it’s getting up to go to the bathroom or just waking for short bursts at a time, it’s all part of your nightly routine.
However frequent and longer period awakenings can lead to daytime tiredness and fatigue, diminished cognitive performance and negative effects on a person’s mood1.
Understanding the possible causes of your night-time awakenings can help you make adjustments to improve the quality of your sleep.
1. Establish what’s waking you
- Disruptions in your sleep environment could be causing some of your awakenings. Things such as sudden, unexpected, and unfamiliar noises can easily rouse you from sleep, they don’t necessarily need to be loud to be disruptive.
- There may be too much light in your bedroom. For example your television left on, streetlights shining through your window, even the light on your alarm clock can disturb your sleep.
- Having your room temperature too hot or too cold may cause you to experience a disturbed night’s sleep.
- Stress is another cause of frequent middle-of-the-night awakenings.
- Consuming too much caffeine during the day can also impede consistent sleep at night, as can consumption of alcohol.
2. Long nights spent awake
Night-time awakenings can also be prolonged experiences for many people. These extended periods of sleeplessness in the middle of the night or very early morning can be frustrating, which only make it harder to return to sleep. Being awake for extended periods of time during the night can significantly diminish sleep duration, leading to daytime tiredness and ongoing sleep deprivation. Stress is a common cause of prolonged middle-of-night wakefulness3. Once awake, worrisome thoughts flood the mind and soon it may feel impossible to return to sleep. Simple relaxation and thought-blocking exercises can help calm and clear the mind and assist with getting back to sleep.
3. Don’t force sleep
At a certain point you will find that you are simply unable to get back to sleep. If you reach this point, it might be best to get out of bed rather than toss and turn in frustration. Engage in a quiet, soothing activity such as meditation or reading under low light until you feel tired. Try not to sleep in the next morning - get up, go about your day, and you might be more prepared for a restful night’s sleep the following night.
If night-time waking is a constant problem for you and none of the above treatments work, you may be suffering from undiagnosed sleep apnea. Please speak to your doctor to discuss if you require a sleep test, or contact one of our Authorised Dealers. Click here to find your nearest ResMed Authorised Dealer.