With everything going on in the world right now, you might find yourself waking up more frequently during the night – especially if it’s because you’re feeling anxious. It’s a common and frustrating problem that affects most people at some point in their lives.
The most prevalent form of insomnia is called sleep maintenance insomnia, and it can cause multiple night-time awakenings. It’s a good idea to deal with this sooner rather than later, before it becomes a serious sleep disorder.
Sleep disruptions are usually caused by either biological or environmental factors. Whatever the reason, lying awake at night will leave you exhausted the following day. Here are some tips to help you get back to sleep.
- Put your phone away. No doubt you’ve heard this tip before – but it’s important. The blue light from your phone disrupts your circadian rhythm and inhibits your melatonin production. There’s also the chance that you might see an upsetting news alert, or read a worrying headline – this isn’t conducive to good sleep. Stress will only make it harder for you to nod off again.
- Do something relaxing and non-stimulating. If you’re still awake after 30 minutes of lying in bed, try getting back up again. Leaving your bed can help you re-establish the association of sleep with your bedroom. Create a list of soothing activities you can try, like deep breathing, listening to relaxing music, or even reading for a while. Avoid turning on lights, and starting any activities that will wake you up even more – like watching the news on TV.
- Install nightlights for the bathroom. When you turn on a light, your body will stop producing melatonin. Installing a nightlight will help you find your way to the bathroom safely without waking you further.
- Deal with a snoring partner. If you’ve woken in the night, and it’s a snoring partner stopping you from getting back to sleep, take action to deal with the problem directly. Encourage your partner to make some simple lifestyle changes – drinking, smoking and weight gain can all have an impact on snoring. If that doesn’t work, ask them to try a snoring relief product. Remember: different products are suitable for different types of snorers, so make sure they know what kind of snorer they are first. You can diagnose your partner’s snoring by using our handy diagnosis tool.
- Take steps to tackle your own sleep health. You may not realise it, but your own snoring could be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) – and this could be causing you to wake up or move out of a deep sleep hundreds of times a night. Snoring is caused by the soft tissue in the back of the throat vibrating when your airway relaxes during sleep. But in some cases, the airway becomes so narrow that the walls of the airway stick together and close up. This usually happens for around 10-30 seconds at a time, but can occur for longer – sometimes up to 50 times an hour or even more. When the airway finally opens up again, you might emit a loud, violent snore, or even wake up with a gasping/choking sensation. This event is known as an apnoea. Throughout the night, your body will constantly come out of deep sleep in order to help you breathe – doctors call this an “arousal”, and it’s what causes you to feel sleepy the next day. Sometimes the airway may not fully close, but becomes so narrow that you experience an oxygen drop in your blood. This is called a hypopnoea, and contributes to the fragmented sleep you might not even be aware you’re having. If you suspect you have OSA, you should visit your doctor as soon as possible. The recommended treatment is usually a CPAP machine, or in less severe cases, an oral device. Your doctor will be able to advise which treatment is most suitable for you.
Good sleep is important for good health. As frustrating as waking up in the middle of the night can be, you should find that you’re able to become better at going back to sleep by following these tips.