You fall asleep without problems, but in the middle of the night, you wake up and toss and turn from side to side in an attempt to fall asleep again. What causes nighttime awakenings and how to deal with them?
Causes of Waking up at Night
There are many reasons why people wake up at night, both external and internal. Common external causes include street noise, snoring partner, plenty of light in the bedroom, improper temperature (too warm or too cold), pets in the bed, an uncomfortable mattress or a child who woke up and came to your room. The internal causes of sleep are also varied and depend on many parameters.
Gender and Age
The older a person becomes, the more often he/she suffers from interrupted night sleep. Older people often sleep during the day and wake up in the middle of the night.
Young women have nighttime awakenings associated with the menstrual cycle: just before the onset of menstruation. Pregnant women wake up at night due to many reasons: swollen legs, backache, frequent urination, heartburn, and fetal movement. Nightly awakenings can torment women when menopause occurs - due to fever, heart palpitations, sweating, stress, and anxiety.
Diseases and Medications
Talk with your doctor if you have apnea during sleep. Chronic pains, such as arthritis or fibromyalgia, also often cause night awakenings. Despite the fact that everyone wakes up sometimes to go to the toilet, if you wake up due to frequent urge to urinate, you should pay attention to this and consult with your doctor. Diabetes, diseases of the thyroid gland, kidney, lung, and cardiovascular system can also cause night awakenings. Taking medications such as beta-blockers and diuretics can also affect your sleep.
Stress, depression and anxiety disorder are often accompanied by insomnia and sudden night awakenings.
When to Start Worrying
If you periodically wake up in the middle of the night, this is not necessarily a sign of a disease or disorder. To understand when to start worrying, doctors advise applying the rule of three. If sudden wake-ups occur three times a week, last at least 30 minutes and repeat for 30 days, you should visit a doctor.
What to Do If You Cannot Fall Asleep?
There are several ways to help cope with nightly awakenings on your own.
Don’t spend more time in bed. Some people think that the more time they spend in bed, the more time they will sleep. In fact, this is the worst thing you can do if you have insomnia. On the contrary, you should instead spend less time in bed. For example, go to bed an hour later than usual, and get up at the same time as always. This may seem illogical, but it really works. Here are some more ways to cope with insomnia.
Don’t sleep. If you sleep during the day, it takes hours from your night sleep. But if you really want to, you can take a nap for no more than 20 minutes until 2 pm - this should be enough to rest and gain strength.
Limit your intake of alcohol and nicotine, fluids, and heavy meals. Also, give up physical activity for at least three hours before bedtime. All of this can trigger a sudden night awakening.
Don’t consume caffeine eight hours before bedtime. Caffeine not only prevents you from falling asleep but can also cause a night awakening.
Don’t lie in bed if you cannot fall asleep. Get up, walk around the room, do something quiet and calm in dim lighting. Go back to bed only when you feel sleepy.
Don’t look at the clock. When you consider how many hours are left until the alarm bell rings, you are nervous and worried, which, in turn, prevents you from falling asleep even more.