Most of the time, getting eight hours of sleep each night is enough to ensure that people feel alert the following morning. For some people, though, banking enough sleep hours doesn’t prevent them from feeling sluggish during the day. One likely reason: Waking several times throughout the night, which interrupts the sleep cycle and steals valuable sleep minutes.
Waking once or twice during the night is normal. However, if you find yourself waking up more than that and taking a long time to fall back asleep each time, it could be a sign of a bigger problem. Also known as sleep maintenance insomnia, this phenomenon correlates with a higher risk of hypertension. Difficulty staying asleep may also be associated with type 2 diabetes.
Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the odds of nighttime waking. If you find yourself jolted from sleep more than 4-6 times nightly, try these methods to encourage your body to rest peacefully.
Avoid caffeine after 2 p.m., and finish any alcohol about two hours before bedtime. Caffeine stays in your system for up to six hours, and alcohol negatively impacts your REM sleep, resulting in restless tossing and turning.
Does your nighttime routine involve scrolling through the day’s Instagram posts or any other time on your phone, computer, or tablet? If so, the blue light emitting from the screen may be stimulating your brain and disrupting your sleep. Put the phone down an hour before bedtime and read a physical book, meditate, or listen to music instead until you feel sleepy.
Stress can contribute to insomnia, whether it prevents you from falling asleep in the first place or wakes you up in a fit of panic after you’ve already dozed off. To relax yourself before bed, take the time to create a routine that signals to your body and mind that it’s time for sleep. Try taking a warm bath, sipping chamomile tea, doing gentle yoga poses, or using a meditation app.
Regular exercise has been found to be an effective way to treat insomnia. Moderate, consistent aerobic activity improves sleep quality and relieves stress, provided you don’t hit the gym too close to bedtime. Aim to finish your workout at least three hours before you fall asleep.
If you lie awake for more than about 20 minutes, get up and switch locations instead of staying in bed waiting for sleep to come. Go somewhere quiet, keep the lights dim, and do something relaxing (such as breathing exercises or reading) until you feel sleepy. When you feel drowsy, go back to bed and try sleeping again.