6 Ways to Reduce Nighttime Awakenings for Better Sleep

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation


Waking frequently during the night reduces your sleep satisfaction. Learn how to limit these sleep disturbances.

How long you sleep each night is important, but even if you get the recommended seven to eight hours of shut-eye, you won’t feel fully refreshed the next day if you’re waking up every hour. Frequent awakenings can lead to lower sleep satisfaction, especially if it takes a long time to fall back asleep. Rather than stress about the sleep you’re losing out on, focus on incorporating some of these habits into your routine to help you fall—and stay—asleep.

Avoid Caffeine in the Afternoon
Although you might enjoy your P.M. pick-me-up, drinking caffeine too late in the day can cause sleep troubles later on. Drinking a caffeinated beverage up to six hours before bedtime can lead you to wake up during the night, so reserve your cup of coffee for the morning.

Ditch the Nightcap
A drink before bed might help you fall asleep faster, but it results in poorer sleep quality. Alcohol can disrupt the chemicals in your body that help you stay asleep, leading you to wake up in the middle of the night. (And of course, drinking too much of anything before bed can cause frequent nighttime bathroom trips, also disruptive to sleep!)

It’s tempting to check your texts or send emails before going to sleep, but the light from your computer, phone, or tablet can disrupt your body’s circadian rhythm. The blue light suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin, which can result in a harder time falling asleep, less time in the REM stage of sleep, and feelings of sleepiness in the morning.

Staying active is important for more than just your waistline: Engaging in moderate aerobic exercise relaxes the body and can help reduce the number of times you wake up at night, as well as increase your total sleep hours. It can even help you fall asleep faster.

Listen to Relaxing Music
Playing soft, soothing music before bedtime can improve your sleep quality and lessen sleep disturbances. Choose instrumental music and play it on low volume—anything too loud or jarring won’t have the desired effect.

Engage in Stress-Relieving Activities
Since stress disrupts sleep, engaging in stress-reducing activities during the day may benefit your ability to sleep at night. Try taking up meditation or yoga to lower your sense of anxiety and increase feelings of relaxation.

Just as many factors can contribute to nighttime sleep disturbances, a multitude of strategies can be used to help resolve the issue. Over time, these smart, healthy habits can help make nighttime waking a thing of the past.