After a long day, falling asleep may be as easy as counting to three for a lot of us. However, staying asleep after you wake up in the middle of the night can present its own challenges. If you had to add up how much time you spend awake after you initially fall asleep and before you get up for the day, you might be surprised to find out just how much you’re not sleeping at night. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as anxiety, not producing enough melatonin, or a sleep disorder.
It’s important to set yourself up for a night full of restful sleep, but it’s also essential to have a plan for what to do when you wake up at night and can’t get back to sleep. As they say, in life you should hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Sleep is the same.
The Best Defense Is a Good Offense
The best way to deal with waking up at night is to do your best to ensure that you don’t. The key to staying asleep is to be prepared. A lot of work to keep you asleep all night can be done throughout the day.
Try these quick tips and tricks first to prepare for bed:
- Avoid alcohol
- Avoid blue light from electronic devices (that means no cell phones or laptop to avoid temptation)
- Relax your muscles (try progressive muscle relaxation)
- Try meditation
- Use a white noise machine
- Use earplugs and an eye mask
- Take a hot shower
- Read a boring book (to make you sleepy)
Here are some more in-depth ways you can help yourself stay asleep before your head even hits the pillow.
1. Rise and Shine
Sun salutations shouldn’t just be part of your morning yoga routine. Actually greeting the morning sun is a great way to help you improve your sleep cycle at night. Letting the light of day into your life in the morning can signal to your brain that it’s time to be awake. When you signal early in the day that it is time to be awake, your body naturally knows that later in the evening it’s time to be asleep.
It’s nice to know that your morning routine can have such a positive impact on your nightly routine. Just like making your bed every morning can make you feel more productive throughout the day, a little sunshine to start your day can be the first step to a good night’s sleep hours before you ever even think of being tired.
2. Regular Exercise
Exercise during the day can help you sleep better and more soundly at night. Try working each muscle group, like your quads (thighs) and calves. If you’re unable to do any strenuous exercise, incorporating just an added walk or water therapy exercises can be enough to reap the benefits of a better night’s sleep.
It makes sense that if you’re tired, then you’ll sleep better. If you’ve ever experienced that feeling of resting after a full day of labor, you know that rest after physical exertion is sound.
3. Time Your Coffee or Tea
If you enjoy caffeinated beverages throughout your day such as coffee or tea, you may find that limiting their consumption in the late afternoon and early evening can help you fall asleep and stay asleep. We get you some in the morning when your alarm clock goes off and you’ve had a lack of sleep.
The average half-life for caffeine in a healthy adult is around five hours. That means that if you have a caffeinated beverage at 2:30 p.m. to help you through the afternoon slump, then you’ll still have half of its caffeine contents in your system at 7:30 p.m. It can take another four hours for the caffeine to be out of your system.
4. Embrace the Early Bird Special
Eating an early dinner can help you sleep better. To avoid acid reflux or indigestion, it’s wise to eat at least two to three hours before bed. If you are awake for four to five hours after your last meal of the day, you’ll want to add a snack before bed to keep you from being hungry in the night.
It’s advisable to avoid foods that aggravate acid reflux in the evening time, and your snacks at night should consist of complex carbohydrates to stabilize your blood sugar and help you sleep soundly. Pairing a protein can help your body release tryptophan and a little fat like that found in peanut butter can help your body process the carbohydrates slowly to help you wake up feeling more rested.
5. A Nice Warm Bath
The American poet Sylvia Plath said, “There must be quite a few things a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them.” Taking a nice warm bath before bed can help soothe and calm the tension of your body and your mind. Also, warming your body temperature before you sleep can help you sleep more soundly as your body temperature falls during your restful times.
Warm baths have several benefits, and quiet time can help you relax and unwind to get you in a state of mind for rest. Keep the lights dim and avoid reaching for your tablet, e-reader, or smartphone.
6. Enhance Your Sleep Naturally
For centuries, sleep has eluded some people, and for centuries, people have turned to natural herbs and plants to help guide their bodies into a restful sleep. You’ve probably heard of people drinking warm chamomile tea before bed to help them rest, and it’s certainly one natural option.
However, there are other options that are just as natural and are as tasty as a candy treat. Natural supplements can be an aid in helping you fall asleep and stay asleep.
For example, Complete Calm Sleep Gummies use several key ingredients like extracts of Persian Saffron, Chamomile, Passionflower, Lion’s mane, Rhodiola, and Lemon Balm in combination with holy basil and a blend of terpenes that are all designed to work together to give you restful, quality sleep.
Taking a Complete Calm Sleep Gummy just 30 minutes before bed can have you almost immediately calmer and ready for sleep, and while you have the support you need to sleep through the night, you won’t have to wake up feeling groggy.
7. Prioritize Sleep
Sleep is important. Without it, our mood, our minds, and our bodies are just not the same, so it makes sense that you would make time for it, plan for it, and give it the respect it deserves. As part of your daytime support for your nighttime slumber, remember to establish a sleep routine.
Just giving your mind and body the consistency of waking up and going to bed at relatively the same times can keep you in a rhythm to be awake when you ought to be and asleep when you ought to be (and it can help with your circadian rhythm and regulating your sleep hormone, like your melatonin levels).
In an effort to support your sleep priorities, make sure your sleep space is appropriately dark, cool, and calm to give yourself the best chance at good sleep. When you take care of your sleep, your sleep will take care of you.
8. Write It Down
When you’re waking up to the worries of the day resurfacing, journaling is a good practice to consider adding before bed to help quiet your mind. Some helpful ideas would be to:
- Write your list of things you hope to accomplish the next day
- Recap the day to “put it to bed”
- Jot down the flurry of late-night ideas you have to address at a later time
- Make a list of things that make you grateful
Whatever helps you to quiet your mind and get ready for sleep, write it out.
What To Do When You Do Wake Up at Night
You can do everything right when it comes to your sleep, and you still may wake up and be unable to fall asleep again. So, what can you do if you wake up at night?
Some people will tell you to just lie there in the quiet and rest your body. Others will tell you that if you’ve already tried for 20 or 30 minutes you should just get up and do something. If you’re unsure which is correct, according to Dr. Michael Perlis you should get up to avoid turning your momentary sleeplessness into the more long-term problem of further sleep issues.
Some things to try if you find yourself awake again at night are:
- Listen to soft music
- Read a book
- Practice deep breathing techniques
When you feel drowsy again, then you should return to your sleep space and attempt to sleep again. This keeps you from associating sleeplessness with where you try to sleep.
Try not to focus on being unable to fall asleep. Lying there watching the minutes tick by while you silently count all the hours you’re not sleeping will only distress you. Turn your mind instead to positive thoughts.
Sleep has to be a priority in your life. It is an essential life function and making sure you get enough quality sleep can improve your mood and your life. Remember to set yourself for a successful night’s sleep as you go about your day.
Remember that consistency is key, so don’t give up at the first sign of a midnight waking. As in life, it’s okay to need a little help, but you’ll want to stick to natural aids like supplements and the right late-night snacks to help you find your way to a natural full night’s rest.
Sleep is a natural part of life, so shouldn’t your approach to improving it be natural too? Listen to your body and do what’s best for you, and you’ll find the ZZZ’s you’ve been missing.
Meet our Experts
This article has been reviewed by members of our Scientific Advisory Board.
Former Olympic Athlete, Founder, B2ten Foundation (coach to multiple Olympic Champions)
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