Why Do I Keep Waking Up in the Middle of the Night?

Jose Colon, author of ‘The Sleep Diet,’ suggests that no one sleeps through the night. It is part of our human DNA to wake up periodically throughout our sleep cycles. But, you may be asking yourself ‘why do I keep waking up in the middle of the night?’

It’s not uncommon for the average person to wake up anywhere from 4 to 6 times a night. It’s usually a quick moment, followed by going back to sleep almost immediately. That’s the key. Waking up during the night becomes a problem when it is difficult to go back to sleep.

If you wake up regularly during the night, you may not even remember it. However, waking up and staying awake for any length of time can be detrimental to your sleep cycle. That can eventually start to impact your health. Do you feel as though you don’t get enough sleep because you keep waking up? Then, it’s time to understand what might be causing you to wake in the first place.

What Causes Waking Up in the Middle of the Night?

If you can wake up and go back to sleep easily, don’t worry. There are dozens of possibilities as to why we suddenly wake up and then fall asleep again. However, there are more common problems that keep us awake. If you can’t stay asleep, one of these causes may be the culprit.

Nighttime Urination

Known as Nocturia, the urge to use the bathroom can easily wake you from a deep sleep. If you drink a lot before bed, it may be as simple as limiting your liquids. However, if you’re cutting off liquids a few hours before bed and still having to get up to urinate, you may have another problem.

When our bodies don’t have the right salt balance, they try to dispel water. So, limiting liquids altogether may not help the problem. If you’re getting up several times a night to go to the bathroom, start sipping. Add a pinch of salt to a glass of water, and take a few small sips 30 minutes before bed.

Sea salt is preferable to table salt as it is unprocessed. It helps the water soak into the cells.

Becoming Too Hot

If you toss and turn with the covers, it could be why you’re waking up. According to the National Sleep Foundation, overheating can be a common reason why you keep waking up. The ideal temperature of the room should be around 65 degrees for ideal comfort.

Additionally, be considerate of what you wear to bed and the material of the blankets. If you get too hot while sleeping at night, you may want to choose lighter fabrics.

Late Night TV & Social Media

It’s tempting to keep your phone on your nightstand and check emails, Facebook, etc. before bed. Unfortunately, it might be making it difficult to fall asleep, or cause you to wake up at night. The blue lights of most electronics can essentially trick your brain into thinking it should be awake. It prevents your body from creating the right amount of melatonin, which is a hormone that helps you to sleep more easily.

Avoid using electronics at least one hour before you go to bed. Additionally, limiting light in general can help you sleep more soundly. If you can’t avoid using your phone at night, try holding it a bit farther from your face. This will reduce the direct exposure of light to your eyes.

Waking Up in the Middle of the Night

Stressful Situations

Stress may be unavoidable at times. We live busy lives and there always seems to be something to worry over. Whether it’s work, relationships, kids, or something else, stress plays a big role in our lives. Unfortunately, it can also play a big role in our sleep habits.

It may not be possible to completely remove stress from your life. However, there are tactics you can use to reduce it. Cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation, or yoga are all great for reducing stress. Find what works for you to lower stress levels. The calmer you are, the less likely you are to wake up during the night.

Drinking Alcohol

Alcohol is often associated with drowsiness. While a few drinks can leave you feeling sleepy, they can also disrupt your sleep. Specifically, it disrupts your REM sleep. You may have heard that a glass of wine before bed helps you sleep. Or, you may have a nightcap to drift off.

It’s true that alcohol may allow you to sleep for a few hours. But, because it affects REM sleep, it will likely cause you to wake up in the middle of the night. Quality REM sleep is needed for basic motor skills, and concentration. When our sleep patterns are disrupted, it not only affects us during the night, but can disrupt your day, too.

Limit alcoholic beverages to earlier in the evening. Enjoying a cocktail at a happy hour or a glass of wine with dinner is fine. But, avoid alcohol altogether for at least an hour before bed.

Stop Waking Up in the Small Hours of the Morning

If you’re not getting enough sleep at night, look at your habits. What you do in the hours leading up to bed can greatly impact your sleep cycle. Not getting enough sleep can cause health conditions in a short amount of time.

Create a better environment for sleep with a white noise machine. Aside from drowning out street noises, soothing sounds will help you to rest more easily and you won’t wake up as often.

Aside from the factors here, it’s important to make sure you don’t have a sleep disorder. Insomnia affects thousands of people worldwide. Sleep disorders often need behavioral changes or medication to be managed.

But, if any of the causes listed above sound familiar, they may be why you’re having trouble sleeping. Thankfully, most of them are fairly simple to change. With some changes in certain habits and a better sleep environment, you can reduce your chances of waking up.