Although not classed as a sleep disorder in its own right, waking up in the middle of the night and then not being able to go back to sleep can be a problem if it happens on a regular basis. There is nothing unusual in anybody waking in the middle of the night perhaps due to hearing a noise, a child crying, a need to use the bathroom or a hunger pain. However, the problem comes in if you just end up lying in bed with sleep eluding you.
Here are a few tips to help you go back to sleep.
Get out of bed and do something
Although this may sound a bit of a contradiction, since you are trying to sleep and not wake yourself even more, getting up does make a lot of sense. The reason being is that you may not be tired, especially if you have already slept for five or six hours.
If you have been lying in bed for twenty or thirty minutes and cannot drop back off to sleep, get up and do something that will make you tired again. What you should not do though is turn on a bright light as this will likely confuse your body clock into thinking that it really is time to wake, even though it is three in the morning.
Instead, turn on a low light and read something that will bore you back to sleep – something like the owner’s manual for your new TV or washing machine.
Do not do anything that will stimulate your brain such as anything to do with work or school and do not switch the TV on. Switching your radio on to a station with relaxing music is a good option.
Powers of Visualization
You have probably heard the old saying about counting sheep in order to get of to sleep. Well, guess what, that theory can really work if you can imagine something really repetitive and boring. It does not have to be sheep, but if you can get your brain to focus on an image, it will not wander off to something more stimulating. After a while, your mind will lose interest and begin to shut down and before you know it, you will be drifting off back to sleep.
Hunger Pains – Have a snack
If you wake up in the middle of the night feeling hungry, the hunger pains will make it difficult for you to get back to sleep. The answer is to get up and make yourself something light to eat. If possible, have something such as peanuts, turkey or warm milk. All of these help your body release a relaxant called serotonin. Other good night snack choices include cereal, fruits, nuts or crackers. With the hunger pains gone, it will be a lot easier to fall back to sleep.
Go to bed Later
If you go to bed and you have trouble dropping off to sleep or if you go to sleep only to wake again a short time later, it could well be that you were not tired when you first went to bed. If that is the case, stay up a while longer and use that extra time to do something relaxing like meditation, yoga, deep breathing, or even take a bath. Your body will automatically begin to unwind and relax, which will make getting to sleep a whole lot easier. The ultimate goal is to get your body to sleep for the entire time that you are in bed.
If the temperature in your bedroom is either too hot or too cold, you may well have problems falling back to sleep. If it is too hot, cool it by lowering the thermostat or turning on a fan. If you feel cold, cover yourself with a blanket or duvet.