Why Do I Keep Waking Up In The Middle Of The Night? Here’s What Your Body May Be Trying To Tell You
Consistently waking up in the middle of the night for seemingly no reason is unfortunately very common — and exactly as frustrating as it sounds. If it just happens once in a while, it's not that bad. But when it starts happening every night for days, weeks, or even months on end, that's when you start feeling desperate. You're tired, you have no idea what's going on, and you don't know how to prevent it from happening. To figure out how to fall asleep and stay asleep (at least until your alarm clock goes off in the morning), you first need to figure out what your body is trying to tell you when you keep waking up in the middle of the night.
There are likely plenty of reasons you're having trouble staying asleep. If you're lucky, it can be an easy fix — like, something in your sleep environment that you can adjust. If you're not lucky, though, it could be something that requires outside help or maybe even medical attention. To get to the bottom of it, you need to examine your sleeping habits, as well as pay attention to what you're doing and how you're feeling throughout the day. The below suggestions could explain exactly what's going on with you and your sleeping habits - but remember, if this is a serious issue that can't be fixed no matter what you try, you should seek the help of a professional. Sleep is too important to ignore!
1. There's Too Much Light Around You
Your sleep environment makes a huge difference in your quality of sleep, and light is one of the most important external factors that can affect sleep, according to Healthy Sleep. When there's too much light around you, it triggers your internal clock with the message that it's daytime, and you need to wake up. Excess light can come from your phone, your television if it's left on, or a nightlight if you don't like total darkness. A lot of the time, it's from things you can't control, like the sweep of headlights across the wall or someone else turning on a light when they wake up. Because of this, your best bet is to sleep with an eye mask on. It helps create more of a total darkness feel and keeps out excess light.
2. You're Too Hot
If you're falling asleep in a sweatshirt and/or sweatpants under lots of blankets, you might want to cut down on some layers. According to the National Sleep Foundation, being too hot can keep you from getting a good night's sleep. Even if you're not bundled under blankets, the temperature in your room could just be too warm. One sleep expert says that the best temperature to sleep in is between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. He explained to Byrdie that this will "help the body maintain a temperature slightly lower than 98.6 degrees," which is ideal.
3. You're Drinking The Wrong Things At The Wrong Time
The food and drink you consume throughout the day can affect how well you sleep — especially the drinks. Caffeine is great for staying wide awake during the day, but unfortunately, it can also do the same in the middle of the night. If you drink a cup of coffee (or anything containing caffeine) after about 3 p.m. in the afternoon, you're risking a restless night.
The same goes for alcohol. You might think a nightcap helps you sleep better, but it can actually lead to you waking up in the middle of the night. Marc Leavey, MD, a primary care specialist with Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, told Prevention, "Alcohol has a sedative effect that, if you drink enough, can put you to sleep quite easily. Over the first few hours, you metabolize that alcohol, with the alcohol producing a form of sleep that can prevent the healthy rapid eye movement sleep that is most restful." In other words, it messes with REM so much that it makes you wake up.
4. You Might Be Addicted To Your Smartphone
Random light getting into your room might be bad for sleep, but the absolute worst kind of light is coming from your smartphone. If you consistently wake up in the middle of the night, it could be a sign that you need to step away from your smartphone. Research has found that the blue light emanating from smartphones inhibits melatonin, a sleep hormone. That same research found that smartphone light was more invasive than any other kind of light, including from TVs or laptops.
You might not realize it, but your phone could be lighting up throughout the night with notifications, even if it's on vibrate. Your best bet is to stop using your phone an hour before bed, then store it in a drawer to keep the light away from your eyes.
5. You Have An Underlying Condition
There are, unsurprisingly, many different medical conditions that could lead to sleep issues: It could be a gastrointestinal issue, it could be a prostate problem, it could be a new medication you just started taking. If you've noticed any other strange symptoms or you haven't felt 100 percent, go to a doctor to discuss these symptoms along with the fact that you haven't been sleeping well.
6. You're Way Too Stressed
If you're extremely stressed out, you can almost put money on the fact that you'll have a lot of trouble staying asleep. The American Psychological Association says, adults who sleep fewer than eight hours a night are more likely to report symptoms of stress and that adults with high stress are more likely to say they aren't getting enough sleep because their minds race. If you've been feeling particularly stressed or anxious, consider doing something to clear your mind, like exercising, meditating, or other relaxation techniques. It's never a bad idea to speak to a professional for the best coping methods either.
7. You Have A Sleep Disorder
Sometimes it's not just about external factors, and there's something that can be diagnosed and treated. You could have a sleep disorder like sleep apnea, where you stop breathing intermittently throughout the night, disrupting your sleep and causing you to wake up.