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9 Things To Try If You Always Wake Up In The Middle Of The Night

No more wine before bed, friends.

This week at Goodful, we're talking sleep — why it matters, how to get more, and ways to make it better. You can find more Slumber Party posts here.
Ellie Sunakawa / BuzzFeed

This week at Goodful, we're talking sleep — why it matters, how to get more, and ways to make it better. You can find more Slumber Party posts here.

If you're all too familiar with the frustrating feeling of waking up unexpectedly in the middle of the night, you're not alone.

A study in Sleep Medicine estimates that a third of American adults do this at least three times a week, and more than 40% of those adults have trouble falling back to sleep.
Kriscole / Getty Images

A study in Sleep Medicine estimates that a third of American adults do this at least three times a week, and more than 40% of those adults have trouble falling back to sleep.

Luckily, there are plenty of tried-and-true tips out there that might help you sleep through the night:

1. Skip that nightcap.

If you're ~tucking yourself in~ at night with a glass of wine, you're not doing your body any favors. A lil' pinot noir before bed might make you feel sleepy, but once you've drifted off it actually disrupts your rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Alcohol disturbs this part of the sleep cycle, which occurs 90 minutes after you've fallen asleep and is known to be mentally restorative.So, the more you drink before bed, the more likely you are to wake up in the middle of the night and experience drowsiness and poor concentration the next day. One study even found that after a night of drinking, adults woke up twice as often as they did after a night without drinking. To be safe, have a drink earlier in the evening (if you really want to have one!) — hello, happy hour! — so your body has enough time to metabolize the alcohol before bed.
Kal Loftus / Via unsplash.com

If you're ~tucking yourself in~ at night with a glass of wine, you're not doing your body any favors. A lil' pinot noir before bed might make you feel sleepy, but once you've drifted off it actually disrupts your rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Alcohol disturbs this part of the sleep cycle, which occurs 90 minutes after you've fallen asleep and is known to be mentally restorative.

So, the more you drink before bed, the more likely you are to wake up in the middle of the night and experience drowsiness and poor concentration the next day. One study even found that after a night of drinking, adults woke up twice as often as they did after a night without drinking. To be safe, have a drink earlier in the evening (if you really want to have one!) — hello, happy hour! — so your body has enough time to metabolize the alcohol before bed.

2. Set your thermostat somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees.

Of course, you can adjust it based on what makes you most comfortable, but 60-67 degrees is the suggested temperature for ideal sleep. When you're lying in bed drifting off, your body temperature decreases in order to enter sleep mode, so keeping your room cool can actually help speed that process up and make it easier to stay snoozing. Keeping your thermostat at a temperature much cooler or warmer than that recommended range can lead to restless sleep and disrupt your REM cycle.
Julian Hochgesang / Via unsplash.com

Of course, you can adjust it based on what makes you most comfortable, but 60-67 degrees is the suggested temperature for ideal sleep. When you're lying in bed drifting off, your body temperature decreases in order to enter sleep mode, so keeping your room cool can actually help speed that process up and make it easier to stay snoozing. Keeping your thermostat at a temperature much cooler or warmer than that recommended range can lead to restless sleep and disrupt your REM cycle.

3. Create a soothing bedtime routine.

Listen, I love scrolling through Instagram videos of corgis for hours in bed as much as the next millennial, but it's just not the best way to unwind before sleep (because life is unfair). Anyhoo, your soothing bedtime routine should be screen-free (no blue light, folks!), and could include things like sipping decaffeinated tea, lighting candles, turning on some nature sounds, reading a good book, or taking a warm shower. Hopping in the shower 90 minutes before bed will actually trigger your body to enter sleep mode. Allowing your brain to unwind for about an hour should set you up for a disruption-free slumber.
Jacoblund / Getty Images

Listen, I love scrolling through Instagram videos of corgis for hours in bed as much as the next millennial, but it's just not the best way to unwind before sleep (because life is unfair). Anyhoo, your soothing bedtime routine should be screen-free (no blue light, folks!), and could include things like sipping decaffeinated tea, lighting candles, turning on some nature sounds, reading a good book, or taking a warm shower. Hopping in the shower 90 minutes before bed will actually trigger your body to enter sleep mode. Allowing your brain to unwind for about an hour should set you up for a disruption-free slumber.

4. Keep your clocks out of sight.

When you wake up in the middle of the night, the LAST thing you should do is check the time. You'll immediately start doing the math to figure out how many hours of sleep you can still get if you fall back to sleep in 20 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, two hours, and so on. This does nothing but stress you the heck out, which makes it even more difficult to become drowsy again. Turn your alarm clock so that it's not in your line of vision, or keep your phone well out of reach so that you're not tempted to look at the screen.
Benjamin Voros / Via unsplash.com

When you wake up in the middle of the night, the LAST thing you should do is check the time. You'll immediately start doing the math to figure out how many hours of sleep you can still get if you fall back to sleep in 20 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, two hours, and so on. This does nothing but stress you the heck out, which makes it even more difficult to become drowsy again. Turn your alarm clock so that it's not in your line of vision, or keep your phone well out of reach so that you're not tempted to look at the screen.

5. Only go to bed when you're actually feeling sleepy.

It's important to listen to your body's natural cues when it comes to sleepiness. Train yourself to go to bed only when you're feeling sleepy (your soothing bedtime routine should help!) and not just because the clock says it's time or because you want to crawl under the covers early and try to make up for previous restless nights. If you're not sleepy yet, don't force yourself to lie in bed and stare at the ceiling, only to get up 20 minutes later anyway. Keep reading or meditating or listening to music on the couch until your eyes start to feel heavy. This way, you won't risk forming that association with poor sleep in your bedroom, and you'll sleep better throughout the night.
Alexandra Gorn / Via unsplash.com

It's important to listen to your body's natural cues when it comes to sleepiness. Train yourself to go to bed only when you're feeling sleepy (your soothing bedtime routine should help!) and not just because the clock says it's time or because you want to crawl under the covers early and try to make up for previous restless nights. If you're not sleepy yet, don't force yourself to lie in bed and stare at the ceiling, only to get up 20 minutes later anyway. Keep reading or meditating or listening to music on the couch until your eyes start to feel heavy. This way, you won't risk forming that association with poor sleep in your bedroom, and you'll sleep better throughout the night.

6. And if you wake up and don't fall back to sleep within 20 minutes, get out of bed.

Even if you're angry at your own body and brain for waking you up at 3 a.m., don't lie in bed stubbornly for hours until you get sleepy again. If you haven't drifted back to sleep within 20 minutes, get up and do something calming, like reading or listening to relaxing music, and then go back to bed when you feel sufficiently drowsy. If you stay in bed for a long time, stewing about the fact that you can't fall asleep, you'll begin to associate your bedroom with poor sleep and that terrible cycle will continue.
Krista Mangulsone / Via unsplash.com

Even if you're angry at your own body and brain for waking you up at 3 a.m., don't lie in bed stubbornly for hours until you get sleepy again. If you haven't drifted back to sleep within 20 minutes, get up and do something calming, like reading or listening to relaxing music, and then go back to bed when you feel sufficiently drowsy. If you stay in bed for a long time, stewing about the fact that you can't fall asleep, you'll begin to associate your bedroom with poor sleep and that terrible cycle will continue.

7. Put on socks to make sure your feet are toasty.

If you're still having trouble sleeping when your bedroom is set to your preferred temperature, try putting on socks or placing a hot water bottle by your feet. If your feet are too cold, they'll constrict the blood vessels and cause less blood to circulate, which throws off your internal thermostat and, in turn, your quality of sleep. By warming your feet, your helping those blood vessels to dilate faster, and giving your brain a signal that it's time to sleep.
Esmeraldaedenberg / Getty Images

If you're still having trouble sleeping when your bedroom is set to your preferred temperature, try putting on socks or placing a hot water bottle by your feet. If your feet are too cold, they'll constrict the blood vessels and cause less blood to circulate, which throws off your internal thermostat and, in turn, your quality of sleep. By warming your feet, your helping those blood vessels to dilate faster, and giving your brain a signal that it's time to sleep.

8. Practice progressive muscle relaxation.

Another proactive way to get your ol' meatsack back to sleep is trying out progressive muscle relaxation, during which you tense a group of muscles as you breathe in, and then relax them as you breathe out. How does it work? You breathe in and tense the first muscle group for four to 10 seconds (tense it hard but not to the point of pain or cramping). Then, breathe out and relax the muscle group suddenly and completely (not gradually).Rest for 10 to 20 seconds before you work on the next muscle group, and let your mind focus on the difference between how your muscles feel when they're tense and when they're relaxed. Once you're finished with all of the muscle groups, count backward from five to one to bring your focus back to the present. You should feel your stress melt away as your body lets go of all that tension. Check out the order of the muscle groups here.
Mangostar_studio / Getty Images

Another proactive way to get your ol' meatsack back to sleep is trying out progressive muscle relaxation, during which you tense a group of muscles as you breathe in, and then relax them as you breathe out. How does it work? You breathe in and tense the first muscle group for four to 10 seconds (tense it hard but not to the point of pain or cramping). Then, breathe out and relax the muscle group suddenly and completely (not gradually).

Rest for 10 to 20 seconds before you work on the next muscle group, and let your mind focus on the difference between how your muscles feel when they're tense and when they're relaxed. Once you're finished with all of the muscle groups, count backward from five to one to bring your focus back to the present. You should feel your stress melt away as your body lets go of all that tension. Check out the order of the muscle groups here.

9. And try to wake up at the same time every morning.

You might be tempted to sleep in if you were tossing and turning throughout the night, but if you want to get your sleep cycle back on track, resist the urge and stick with your usual wakeup time. Studies have shown that waking up at the same time every day is just as important as the number of hours you sleep. The more varied your sleep schedule is, the worse you'll perform tasks throughout the week. So, don't just aim to get seven to eight hours of sleep — aim to get the same seven to eight hours each night. Rest assured (heh heh) that adhering to a set waking pattern will help you in the long run.
Eggeeggjiew / Getty Images

You might be tempted to sleep in if you were tossing and turning throughout the night, but if you want to get your sleep cycle back on track, resist the urge and stick with your usual wakeup time. Studies have shown that waking up at the same time every day is just as important as the number of hours you sleep. The more varied your sleep schedule is, the worse you'll perform tasks throughout the week. So, don't just aim to get seven to eight hours of sleep — aim to get the same seven to eight hours each night. Rest assured (heh heh) that adhering to a set waking pattern will help you in the long run.

By the way, if you've been having trouble sleeping and it's not going away, it's definitely worth checking with your doctor. Many things can cause insomnia, from stress to certain disorders, and your doctor will best be able to help you figure out what's going on so you can get the sleep you need. In the meantime, you can always read more about insomnia here.

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