There can be many reasons why you get up in the middle of the night, but most of them are benign. It feels good to sleep all night long.
Have you ever been pleasantly asleep and suddenly woke up for no apparent reason? Then you know what a night time awakening is. But don't worry, it's not an entirely abnormal situation – according to this study, it happens to one-third of American adults – and it doesn't have to be caused by any condition. In fact, the reasons are usually related to our habits and can therefore be avoided. Who doesn't like to sleep like a log?
How to reduce waking up at night
Leave your cell for a while
Reading before bedtime is fine – and has been for generations – but if you're reading twits, be prepared for sleep troubles. The blue light from computers, mobile phones and tablets disrupts the body's natural circadian rhythm by suppressing the hormone melatonin – the hormone that makes us sleep well. So turn that screen off and change it for an old fashioned book.
Cut off the flow of coffee a little earlier
Although drinking coffee just before you take a nap is a highly recommended practice – as we've told you here –, when it comes to sleeping at night, it's best not to consume any caffeinated beverages for six hours before going to bed. The effects are long-lasting and can cause night time awakenings.
Get some exercise
This is a classic. It is more than proven that leading an active life and dedicating even half an hour a day to exercising the body promotes sleep hygiene. Aerobic exercise – a long walk counts – is the best option.
Say no to alcohol
A couple of drinks are often used as a method to fall asleep quickly. And they work. The downside is that the quality of sleep achieved is very poor, as alcohol interferes with the chemical reactions that take place during sleep. Waiting three hours between your last drink and bedtime is the right thing to do. Also, if your bladder is full, you are more likely to wake up wanting to go to the toilet, which applies to all kinds of drinks – not just alcohol.
Is your room too cold? Too hot? Too noisy? In the lighter phases of sleep – especially the first one – the body is still alert, so any outside disturbance can cause a night time awakening. As long as it is under your control, try to have a dark, silent environment with a temperature of no more than 22-23ºC. If light is not under your control, using a sleep mask is a good solution.
Micro awakenings: what they are
What if we told you that even if you don't suffer night time awakenings you wake up at night without knowing it? It can happen, and it's a completely normal phenomenon called micro awakenings – or micro arousals. They consist of small periods of time of a few seconds in which you wake up, change your position and go back to sleep without remembering anything. Micro awakenings can last up to a couple of minutes, or occur several times in a row, but they don't have to affect your sleep. Do you still think you don’t suffer night time awakening?
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Photo by Timothée Duran on Unsplash