7 Things That Can Wake You Up in the Middle of the Night and How to Fix Them

Sleep trouble is a common part of life for millions of people worldwide. However, it doesn’t always look like textbook insomnia. Instead of having trouble falling asleep, you may enter the Land of Nod when your head hits the pillow but struggle to stay there all night.

If you catch yourself waking up to a gurgling stomach and wonder, “Why am I always hungry at night,” or questioning why you always have to use the bathroom at 3 a.m., this blog is for you. Here, we’ll dig into 7 things that can wake you up in the middle of the night and how you can fix them to get those much-needed nocturnal z’s.

1. Sensations

If you need to fall asleep to a sleep app, it’s an effective way to stop the thoughts racing through your brain and calm your body and mind. But if you don’t set the app to shut off shortly after you usually doze off, it may have the opposite effect later.

As you move from one stage of sleep to another, your brain notices outside stimuli like sound or lights in the room from a clock and may wake up to it. To ensure you set yourself up for a full night of sleep, follow these steps:

● Keep the room as dark as you can, covering up small lights like any clocks or the smoke alarm.

● If you must fall asleep with the TV or an app on, set a timer to shut it off. Use white noise if you have to have sound.

● Set your thermostat to somewhere between 60-67 degrees. You may be chilly when you fall asleep, but experts say this is the sweet spot to stay in while you cycle through your sleep stages.

● Use soft blankets and sheets that you enjoy feeling. Scratchy or stiff material will be more noticeable to your brain and wake you up.

When you have all your senses covered, your brain stays focused on the internal job it has as you sleep.

2. Caffeine

You might think your caffeine addiction is keeping you awake during the day but not bothering you at night. However, studies show that small amounts of caffeine are linked with increased arousals (periods of waking) at night, a more difficult time falling asleep, and reduced sleep quality.

If you must enjoy your caffeinated drinks and foods, try to get them all in by lunchtime, so they have a few hours to get out of your system.

3. Alcohol

There’s a common myth that a glass of wine before bed will help you sleep better. The fact is that it can allow you to fall asleep easier, but you’ll also be more likely to wake up throughout the second half of the night. Alcohol triggers night sweats. It’s also a diuretic, increasing those late-night bathroom trips.

4. Screen Time

Watching TV or playing on your phone before bed stimulates your brain. The screen’s light exposure also confuses your body’s natural sleep cycle. Both of these factors make it harder to fall asleep, and once you finally doze off, the confusion and stimulation will disrupt your sleep’s consistency.

5. Late/Heavy Dinners

Your food takes time to make it through the digestive system, but it goes faster when you’re standing up. If you lay down soon after a heavy or late meal, you increase your chances of developing acid reflux. The kicks and gurgles of digesting food are also linked with middle-of-the-night wake-ups. Get your last meal in at least a few hours before bedtime.

6. Stress

When your mind is always racing and worried about the problems in your life, getting restful sleep is a challenge. Look for ways to calm your thoughts before bed, like a sleep app, journaling, or meditating. Falling asleep to soothing stimuli ensures your brain is less likely to wake you up shouting about everything you’re supposed to be worrying over.

7. Sleep Disorders

Certain sleep disorders, like insomnia, bruxism, or obstructive sleep apnea, are characterized by disrupted brain activity. If you think you have one of these problems, talk to your doctor to find out how to get a diagnosis and treatment plan.

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