6 Tips to Fall Back Asleep After Waking Up in the Middle of the Night

ISTOCK/KATARZYNABIALASIEWICZ

It’s the middle of the night and suddenly, you’re wide awake, unable to go back to sleep. Try these tricks from regular folks who managed to conquer their sleeplessness.

1. Put the phone away

When you wake up in the middle of the night, resist the urge to check email or hop on Facebook, as the blue light emitted by electronics interferes with your sleep, according to Harvard research. If you find it impossible to do without screen time, either before bed or at 3 a.m., try this trick from Nadine Hemens, a middle-school assistant principal.

“Middle of the night insomnia is a big one for me, and I used to make it way worse by checking email. Now, I simply tell myself that whatever it is, it can wait, and I listen to a meditation app on my phone, instead. I usually fall back asleep without even realizing it,” she says.

If your computer, iPad, or phone is a bedtime staple you can’t do without, make sure to at least dim the screen down at night. This may help you stay asleep until morning.

2. Transform your bedroom into a quiet, dark sanctuary

“Middle of the night insomnia is often caused by emotional distress, anxiety, or a busy mind. Throughout the night, we go into sleep cycles. As we go into each cycle, we wake up a little, but typically don’t remember, and fall back asleep. If you are stressed out, those wake-ups can become a full awakening, and your mind gets very busy,” explains Rachel Ross, a certified sleep consultant with the Family Sleep Institute.

If you’re frequently waking up in the middle of the night, Ross recommends making your bedroom soothing and dark. “Even if you’re a shift worker, keep it quiet, and comfortable. You have to work with what you have.

If you live in a noisy city, and can’t sleep through it, white noise is helpful. A fan works just fine, or you can try a white noise machine that includes nature sounds. You can also try earplugs, and an eye mask, if there is too much ambient light in the middle of the night,” she adds.

3. One, two, three, sleep! Not

If waking up in the middle of the night feels a lot like your brain has a mind of its own, you’re right. According to the National Sleep Foundation, insomnia is the inability of the brain to stop being awake. Wondering how to fall back asleep? Don’t just lie there, do something soothing, suggests Ross.

“Try deep breathing, relaxation exercises, or soothing music. If you have a snoring partner, place a white noise machine on your side of the bed. And never, ever, have an alarm clock facing you while you’re trying to sleep,” she says.

If it’s really hard to get your brain to rest, go to a chair, and read, but do not turn on all the lights. And absolutely, do not start an activity, that will wake you up even more, like watching the news on TV, she says.

4. Eliminate your after-dinner drink

Alcohol is a depressant known for making people fall asleep (or pass out) quickly but it may also be the reason you’re up during the second half of the night, when sleep should be its deepest, according to the NSF. Alcohol is disruptive to REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.

REM is the dream cycle and may be restorative to both body, and brain. “I always thought that having a late-night drink would help me sleep, but I started to notice it backfiring,” says Suzanne Miller, a busy attorney and mom to two teens.

“On nights when I had a few glasses of wine, I would find myself staring at the ceiling at 2 a.m. I started to replace alcohol with chamomile tea and found that I was calmer and better able to sleep. I also wake up feeling less dehydrated, and more refreshed,” she adds.

If you wake up in the middle of the night, don’t use alcohol as a sleep aid. Try sipping some water, or have a cup of herbal tea instead.

5. Need another reason to stop smoking? Here it is

You already know that smoking is bad for your health, but did you also know it may adversely affect your natural circadian rhythm, making it harder to stay asleep? Smokers have a greater risk of developing the heavy-snoring disorder of sleep apnea, they sleep more lightly than non-smokers, and they wake up more frequently in the middle of the night, according to the NSF.

Skimping on sleep has been linked to multiple diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression. If you’re looking for another reason to quit, consider it found. Talk to your doctor about strategies to help you quit, and never reach for a cigarette in the middle of the night—smoking in bed is a major fire hazard.

When you quit smoking, it’s normal to experience temporary insomnia. Hang in there, and calm your middle-of-the-night mind with visions of a healthier you. This may calm you down, making it easier to fall back asleep.

6. Bore yourself sleepy

If you can’t fall back asleep for 20 minutes or more, try reciting poems you memorized as a kid, the multiplication times table, or movie scenes from your favorite films. You can even sing songs to yourself, in your head, suggests the NSF.

If this sounds a little bit like counting sheep, it’s because the principle behind it is the same. Repetition can be soothing, allowing your brain to relax, slowly gentling you back into sleep.

Facebook
Twitter
WhatsApp
Pinterest
Reddit
LinkedIn
Facebook
Twitter
WhatsApp

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

READ NEXT

8 Reasons Why Your Stomachache Is a Major Concern

A stomachache can knock down your Holiday plans, and, sometimes, the pain doesn’t come from what you eat. However, that doesn’t make stomachaches any less annoying and incredibly uncomfortable. Fortunately,

5 Essential Facts to Know About Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common type of sleep apnea, and occurs when the muscles in your throat become blocked (“obstructed”) while you sleep. Another type of sleep

8 Things You Should Sanitize Every Day

With the spread of coronavirus, we are all focused on cleaning our homes as often and as well as possible. So, if you want to stay safe, you have to

10 Hidden Health Dangers You Can’t Ignore

A home invasion is everyone’s worst nightmare. What’s scarier than that: A silent killer hiding inside your body. Lurking inside all of us could be something seriously wrong, a hidden

12 Shocking Things That Are Damaging Your Body

We all know chain-smoking, eating junk food, and drinking a bottle of wine each night are unhealthy habits. But there are other surprising and subtle things you do everyday that

15 Signs You’re Vitamin C Deficient

Vitamins are an important part of someone’s overall health and, without them, our bodies can’t complete essential tasks and functions. Although they are crucial, it appears that approximately 92 percent

10 Tips to Stay Healthy This Holiday Season

    Fast-food burgers Moderation is the key of a healthy life, so grass-fed, high-quality beef may have some heart benefits, according to Dr. Regina Druz, associate professor of cardiology

Scroll to Top