Here's why you keep waking up in the middle of the night

By Kim Abrahams
24 June 2017

Is you bedtime disrupted by random bouts of tossing, turning and minutes of being unable to fall asleep again?

You’re excited to lay your head on that fluffy pillow for a night’s rest after a long, stressful day at work.

But in the back of your mind you know you’ll probably wake up multiple times between going to bed and hearing the sound of your alarm clock.

Your bedtime is bound to be disrupted by random bouts of tossing, turning and minutes – which feel like hours – of being unable to fall asleep again.

Why does this keep happening?

We’ve got the possible reasons and solutions to your nightly problem.

1. Feeling hot, hot, hot

With the icy winter weather conditions creeping in once the sun sets, your heater, bed, a steaming cup of coffee and layers of blankets seems like the perfect combination. But too much heat during the night will interfere with your sleep.

The temperature of our body decreases while we sleep, but if we’re covered in too many layers, our bodies have to work extra harder at cooling down, which hinders our peaceful sleeping state.

What you can do: Relax in a bath before bed, says Marc Leavey, a specialist at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore in the US.

"Taking a warm bath raises your temperature in the tub slightly while exiting the tub triggers a slight drop in temperature—a signal that your brain associates with sleep.”

2. Social media queen = interrupted dream

Does your night-time routine include scrolling through Instagram, Facebook or Twitter before bed?

Well, those are the evils robbing you of a decent night’s rest.

"Exposing eyes to light during the evening stops the body from making melatonin, the sleep hormone," explains Richard L. Hansler from John Carroll University in Ohio, USA.

What to do: If you really can’t manage without a final internet check before bed, dim the light of your screen so that the brightness is easier on your eyes.

Credit: Cover Media Credit: Cover Media

3. You always need to go to the toilet

This has to be one of the most annoying causes of waking up in the middle of the night. It’s even worse when it happens minutes before your alarm is about to go off!

If you’re waking up more than twice to pee, even when you’ve limited your liquid intake before bed, it could be that your body doesn’t have enough salt, which helps in retaining water.

What to do: Drink a small glass of water with a pinch of salt about a half hour before going to bed, advises Jonathan Steele, executive director of WaterCures.org.

"Unprocessed salt helps the water to get into all of our cells,” he says.

4. You got under the covers while under the influence

Yes, a few drinks too many and you know you’re going to be out by the time your head hits that pillow.

But researchers have found that dozing off drunk cause’s disrupted sleep.

"Over the first few hours, you metabolise that alcohol, with the alcohol producing a form of sleep that can prevent the healthy rapid eye movement sleep that is most restful," explains Marc Leavey.

What to do: If you do decide to join the happy hour at the nearby bar, ensure you give your body enough time to metabolise the alcohol before going to bed.

Credit: Cover Media Credit: Cover Media

5. Too much stress, no time for rest

You’re worried about the deadline you cannot afford to miss tomorrow. Or where you’ll find the time to take the kids to their sports games on Saturday morning.

It’s hard to come to rest when you’ve got so much on your mind and the experts warn that this could be a cause for your frequent awakenings.

What to do: "Stress-reduction interventions, such as mindfulness meditation and progressive relaxation, have demonstrated some effectiveness for sleep disturbances,” says Lekeisha Sumner, a clinical psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Sumner adds that psychotherapy, like cognitive behavioural therapy, can help the brain get control of those stressful thoughts.

Sources: prevention.com, tonic.vice.com, byrdie.com 

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