As I stare up at the ceiling fan at 1 am for the third time this week I am starting to notice a pattern. I seem to always wake up in the middle of the night for some reason. It is either to use the restroom, grab a glass of water or to just stare blankly at my phone and touch random icons until I fall asleep again. I realized I had find out how to break the cycle of waking up in the middle of the night. Once I knew the causes, I was ready to get a good nights sleep again. Ready for what I learned?
Start by falling asleep with good habits. Breaking the cycle of waking up in the middle of the night is done by a few methods as long as you are not getting sleep due to medical reasons. The easiest ways of going to sleep and staying asleep are:
- Put Down the Tech 30 Minutes Before Bed
- Set “Do-Not-Disturb” Times on Your Phone
- Cut Off Caffeine by 3pm
- No Alcohol After 6pm
- Take a Hot Bath Before Bed
These simple and easy tips will not only help you get to sleep, but sleep through the night comfortably.
A Simple Understanding of How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep
No one likes to wake up in the middle of the night and struggle with getting back to sleep. Getting a good nights sleep, and staying asleep, will need a change in your sleep cycle if it is a common occurrence. Some people are not up to change since everyone has a nightly routine, but by changing some of the small things in your routine, you can greatly increase the benefits of a great nights sleep.
A good nights sleep can help maintain your weight, blood pressure, reduce stress, help control blood sugars and increase your mood. Making these changes today will put you on track for a better quality of life.
Staying asleep for 6 -8 hours allows your body to go through the full sleep cycles and lets you reap the benefits. It allows your body to do what it does naturally without any extra help, so what have you got to lose? Check out how to make these changes below.
Put Down the Tech 30 Minutes Before Bed
With the invention of the smartphone and tablet, we find ourselves buried in these devices for entertainment and enjoyment. Social media can overcome our lives with what others are doing or news sites that engage in click-bait headlines just to keep your eyes glued to the screen.
Companies like Facebook, Reddit, YouTube, etc have all figured out how to maximize ad revenue by keeping your eyes glued to the screen. Interactions with these products releases a feel good chemical called dopamine that can get you addicted to that service. These companies understand addiction and use it to show you more ads. The constant need for another hit of dopamine is readily met with another article, post or video from that app and can prevent a good nights sleep. Break the trap and put it down early. A well rested night can give yourself a gift as good as coffee in the morning. It is worth it!
Having a hard time giving up social media before bed? That’s the plan. The companies know this. When you put it away, those companies lose. They do not want that, so you have to pace yourself and put it down on your own. Do not let it control you, otherwise you may find yourself reaching for it in the middle of the night when you should be sleeping!
Set “Do-Not-Disturb” Times on Your Phone
Time to dig into the settings menu on your smartphone tonight. Find the do not disturb settings. There should be a search option at the top of the settings screen. What this setting does is silence all notifications and sounds throughout a specific time frame. This way, your phone doesn’t ding or beep while you are sleeping and wake you up.
If you are not familiar with the setting, I have a couple friends that leave their phones charging in the living room so they are not disturbed. Another good way to avoid constant notifications from Facebook from someone else that posts about not being able to get to sleep.
In some phones, there are settings to allow only certain contacts to be able to override the do not disturb. If you have elderly friends or family that you want to be able to reach you during these hours, add them to the list. This way, if they have an emergency, you can hear it.
Cut Off Caffeine by 3pm
Caffeine is a stimulant. We all know coffee is good to wake you up in the morning with a jolt of caffeine, so why consume it in another form at night? Caffeine is be found in soft drinks, coffee, candy, and even some snack foods.
Speaking of snack foods, go ahead and eliminate the junk prior to 6pm. High sugars in your body can act as a stimulant as well and keep you from sleeping properly and in a timely manner. Try end keep your late evenings caffeine and sugar free to get a good nights rest.
If you work shift work, nights and evenings, of course you should adjust the timing to coincide with your sleep cycle.
Caffeine is consumed by 80% of adults on a daily basis in foods and drinks like coffee and candies. Coffee is the most popular form and is consumed in the morning for a quick jolt of energy. We all know one or two coffee junkies.
Side-effects of caffeine are increased blood pressure, increased urination, jitters, diarrhea, rapid heartbeat, heartburn, irritability, headaches, confusion and heightened sense of alertness. That is not any side-effects you want to be dealing with when you are trying to get a good nights sleep.
So put the caffeine away after 3pm and you will be ready to rest at least 4 – 6 hours later.
No Alcohol After 6pm
I am guilty of the occasional glass of wine with my better half every now and then, but making it a habit can really case some issues with your sleep. More so if you drink in excess and “pass out” to get to sleep.
These type of drinkers will almost always wake up a few hours later. This is due to the delta waves and alpha activity in your brain when you sleep.
In a normal setting, when you fall asleep, your brain begins to calm down both itself, and your body by sending out slow waves, or delta waves. When drinking, it turns on the alpha activity and prevents a good nights rest causing you to wake up early, or not even reach REM sleep.
REM sleep is your dreaming state, but also when your body is restoring things like your muscles and other bodily tissues. The dreaming stage, or REM, of sleep is not just for dreaming! Your brain handles some pretty important business during this time. Do not neglect your brain!
On top of waking up to urinate more often than usual, it also interrupts your circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm, in a nutshell, is your internal clock for your day to day activities. Most people have regular bowel movements, sleep patterns and when to rest. When it is interrupted, it will make some changes in your body to adjust and it most certainly will change your sleep.
If you need a good nights sleep, stay away from alcohol. An occasional night out is not a problem for most people, but on a frequent basis can destroy how your body repairs itself during sleep.
Take a Hot Bath Before Bed
I have seen blogs say that you should take a hot bath, then jump right into bed. BY doing so, you will rapidly cool down from the hot water and be in a more relaxed state. The truth is, you should give yourself an hour or so before slapping on the pj’s and hoping under the sheets. Here is why.
A hot bath is a wonderful way to relax and soothe sore muscles after a long day. During a hot bath, your body temperature rises to meet the temperature of the bath water. After you get out, your body temp drops back to normal causing you to relax pretty quickly and effortlessly. Who doesn’t like instant relaxation, right?
Hopping right into bed and covering up under the sheets will keep your temperature elevated and keeping you in an alert state of mind. We sleep under bed sheets to conserve body warmth and this can create the opposite effect that you want.
Moral of the story, a hot bath about an hour before bed will work wonders for a great nights sleep. Just be sure to give yourself some time to cool down before you climb under the sheets.
Learning how to break the cycle of waking up in the middle of the night is easy, start before you go to sleep with great habits. Practice these few simple steps and I can guarantee you a more restful, and comfortable, sleep you will ever have.
As long as you remember to limit your technology before bed, disable alerts and notifications on your phone, no caffeine past 3 o’clock, no alcohol and a warm bath an hour before bed, you will have the best sleep of your life!
Hope I have helped you break the cycle of waking up in the middle of the night! A good sleep starts early!