9 tips to fall back to sleep after waking up in the middle of the night

Some people end up waking in the middle of the night. Stress can also come in the way of an eight-hour good night's sleep. Check out easy ways to sleep again after waking up at night.
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Waking up at night? Know what to do. Image courtesy: Freepik
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 3 Jan 2024, 17:00 pm IST
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Are you one of those people who keep waking up at night? It may be due to stress, anxiety, poor sleep hygiene, the urge to urinate or nightmares. Some people also suddenly wake up because they have too many blankets on or the room temperature is too high! The cause can be anything, but regularly waking up in the middle of the night can affect your health and peace of mind. Here are some healthy ways to get back to sleep after waking up at night.

How does waking up at night affect health?

Frequent awakenings can disrupt the normal sleep cycle, impacting the quality and quantity of sleep, says pulmonology and sleep medicine expert Dr Shweta Bansal.

This may result in:
• Daytime sleepiness
• Impaired cognitive function
• Mood disturbances
• An increased risk of chronic health issues such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and obesity.

Woman sleeping
Many factors contribute to waking up at night. Image courtesy: Freepik

A 2018 research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association also showed that disrupted sleep patterns is connected to a higher risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease.

How to get back to sleep after waking up at night?

The common mistake that people make is trying hard to get back to sleep after waking up at odd hours. Lying down with your eyes shut and being very still will not help. Try the following tips instead:

1. Practice relaxation techniques

If you are experiencing stress-related awakenings, address the sources of stress during waking hours. Developing coping mechanisms for stress in daily life can contribute to more restful sleep, says the expert. You should also engage in deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation to calm the mind and body when you wake up at night.

2. Stop checking the time

Looking at the clock after every 10 or 15 minutes will create anxiety. You will keep worrying if you overslept. Also, if you are using your phone to check the time then you might end up doing other things like going through your mail.

3. Create a comfortable sleep environment

Ensure your bedroom is dark, quiet and cool, as overheating can be one of the reasons disrupting your sleep. Comfortable bedding and a supportive mattress can also contribute to better sleep.

4. Reduce screen time at night

Exposure to screens before bedtime or after waking up is a big no. The blue light emitted can interfere with melatonin production, a hormone crucial for sleep. So, stop watching TV or checking your phone before sleeping or after waking up in the  middle of night.

5. Avoid stimulants

Limit caffeine intake, especially in the evening, says Dr Bansal. It can later make you wake up in the middle of the night.

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6. Don’t drink too much water before bedtime

Staying hydrated is important for your health, but don’t drink too much of water or other liquids close to bedtime. This will help to reduce the likelihood of waking up for bathroom breaks. Even after waking up at night, try not to drink water, as you might want to pee again.

Woman sleeping
Don’t drink water after waking up at night. Image courtesy: Freepik

7. Mindful breathing

Focus on your breath as you slowly and deeply inhale and exhale to help to quiet your mind and promote relaxation. This can specifically help you after a nightmare. Practice deep breathing, remind yourself it was just a dream, and focus on positive or calming thoughts, says the expert.

8. Use a dim night light

Some light to keep one light on while sleeping. Go for a dim night light so that your sleep doesn’t get disrupted.

9. Don’t get up before alarm clock goes off

If you wake up an hour or so before the alarm goes off, you might think it is better to get up. Instead of getting up, try to stay relaxed and wait for the alarm clock to go off. If you are relaxed, you might fall back to sleep before the alarm clock starts ringing.

If sleep disruptions persist, consult a doctor to rule out underlying medical conditions or discuss potential sleep aids. For instance, obesity may lead to sleep apnea, which in turn leads to excessive snoring, daytime sleepiness, fatigue and decreased concentration. In such cases, weight reduction may be advised for people who are overweight, says the expert.

Addressing the root causes, adopting healthy sleep habits, and implementing relaxation strategies can help to mitigate the impact of waking up in the middle of the night on both physical and mental health.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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