11 Surprising Reasons You're Waking Up In The Middle Of The Night & Ruining Your Sleep Without Realizing It

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For some people, falling asleep is hard, but for others, it's the staying asleep that's the difficult part. If you're not sure why you aren't sleeping as soundly as you would like, you might want to consider some surprising reasons you're waking up in the middle of the night. Aside from loud noises or an uncomfortable bed, there are a number of other factors that can play a role in how peaceful your slumber is, and being aware of what can affect your sleep quality can help you doze comfortably throughout the night without disturbances.

"Busy schedules and daytime stress are also often to blame for keeping people awake past normal bedtimes, as people are frequently not able to shut their brains off at night," says sleep expert Dr. Teofilo L. Lee-Chiong Jr., MD over email. "For others, not being able to get quality sleep might be a medical problem. This includes undiagnosed sleep disorders or side effects from certain medications. To combat these issues, people need to acknowledge that their lack of sleep is a problem and identify what is contributing to it."

If you keep finding yourself jolting up at 3 a.m., frustrated and hoping for a better night's sleep, pay attention to these 11 surprising reasons you're waking up in the middle of the night.

1You Took Too Many Naps

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"Although naps can be helpful if you’re feeling particularly tired, you should not make napping a part of your everyday schedule," says Lee-Chiong. "Naps over 45 minutes can cause lethargic tendencies and actually cause you to get worse sleep at night."

2Your Using Your Phone & Computer In Your Bed

"Keeping electronics such as smartphones, tablets and televisions near your bed while you sleep is certain to interrupt your full eight hours," says Lee-Chiong. The blue light emitted from your electronics messes with your natural circadian rhythms, which can affect your quality of sleep, according to Harvard Health.

3You're Stressed

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"In an ideal world, we’d leave our financial or work-related stress at the office," says Lee-Chiong. "However, our brains are constantly working, even while we’re dozing off into sleep. Unexpected stress certainly effects the ways that we maintain healthy sleep patterns." Consider incorporating some stress-relieving activities throughout the day, including meditation, reading, exercising, and more.  

4You Had A Cup Of Coffee At Lunch

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"Caffeine not only causes difficulty in people falling asleep, but it also causes major sleep interruptions," says Lee-Chiong. Research from Henry Ford Hospital’s Sleep Disorders & Research Center and Wayne State College of Medicine found that caffeine consumed even six hours before bedtime resulted in significantly diminished sleep quality.

5Your Didn't Eat Enough

Waking up in the middle of the night can be a sign of low blood sugar, according to multiple studies. Not eating enough throughout the day can cause your blood sugar to drop, so make sure you're eating adequate, balance meals. Avoid starchy foods, and eat a small amount of protein before bed.

6You Had A Glass Of Wine Before Bed

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Although a little bit of booze might help you doze off quicker, it actually has a negative impact on your quality of sleep once you fall asleep. "Drinking alcohol close to bedtime can also lead to middle-of-the-night awakenings," says Lee-Chiong. "Alcohol use can also lead to vivid dreaming and nightmares, and might worsen sleep apnea, bedwetting, restless legs, sleep terrors, and sleepwalking."

7You Drank Too Much Water

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We all know it's important to stay hydrated, but many people wake up in the middle of the night because they have to go to the bathroom. For this reason, it's important to limit the amount of liquids you have starting two hours before bed, according to Cleveland Clinic.

8You Ate Something Spicy

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If you're a fan of spicy food, you may want to lay off the hot sauce come dinner time. Although it can be quite tasty, spicy foods can lead to poor sleep, according to research from The International Journal of Psychophysiology. Spicy food can not only lead to indigestion, but it also raises your body temperature, which can make it harder for you to stay asleep.

9Your Sleep Environment Is Bad

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"I think sleep is an afterthought for so many people that they don’t pay enough attention to the sleep environment: noise, light, temperature and sleep surface are things that can disrupt sleep if not 'managed' and optimized," says Terry Cralle, RN, Certified Clinical Sleep Educator over email. It's important to have a comfortable mattress, but it's also necessary to sleep in the dark and keep the temperature in your bedroom between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

10Periodic Limb Movements During Sleep

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"Periodic limb Movements during sleep are leg or arm twitches that occur repetitively during portions of the night," says Cralle. "The sleeper is often unaware of these twitches, yet they feel that they sleep lightly or have frequent awakenings of unknown cause."

11You Have An Undiagnosed Sleep Disorder

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"Several sleep disorders can often go undiagnosed and will cause people to not get quality sleep," says Lee-Chiong. "Examples of these include sleep apnea, restless leg, and narcolepsy. If you think you have a sleep disorder, it is important to visit a physician as soon as possible so you can be properly diagnosed and start being treated."