Why am I waking up in the middle of the night?
Do you keep waking up in the middle of the night but don’t know why?
We wish we could give you one answer that will solve all your sleep problems. But there are many reasons why you could be struggling to get through the night without waking up.
5 things causing you to wake up during the night
Let’s explore five possible reasons why you aren’t sleeping through the night:
1. Sleep environment
Your sleep environment can disrupt your sleep to the point where you are waking up every night. But how?
Here are a few environmental factors that can make you wake up in the middle of the night or every few hours.
- Noises can wake you up, especially if you are a light sleeper. Perhaps you’re living in a noisy neighbourhood or city or have noises coming from within your own home.
- TVs, computers, cellphones, and laptops don’t belong in the bedroom. They emit light that can interfere with melatonin production.
- Light coming from within the room or entering through the windows and doors can wake you up as well.
2. Eating too much or too little before bedtime
Digestive distress can be why you’re waking up in the middle of the night. Overeating before bed can cause digestive discomfort, which disrupts your sleep. On the other hand, you could be waking up because you didn’t eat enough and you’re hungry.
What you eat can also impact your sleep. There are certain foods to avoid before bed that can interfere with sleep, like spicy food, cured meat and cruciferous vegetables.
3. Suffering from anxiety
Going through a stressful time that triggers anxiety or having generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) can make you wake up every night. Stress and anxiety increase levels of the primary stress hormone, cortisol. When cortisol spikes, it will wake you up.
Anxiety and stress can cause nightmares, which can jolt you awake too, often in a state of distress or panic.
4. You are too hot
Thick sheets, menopause, the wrong pyjamas and a large meal before bed are all things that can make you feel too hot at night and wake you up.
5. You need to go to the toilet
Needing to go to the loo is one of the most common reasons why you could be waking up in the middle of the night. Here are a few things that can make you need to go to the loo at night and maybe even every hour:
- Blood sugar fluctuations
- Drinking alcohol or caffeine before bed (both are diuretics)
- Drinking too much liquid
- Urinary tract infection
Tips to help you sleep through the night
Sleeping through the night starts with the things you do in the hours before going to sleep.
- Don’t go hungry, but don’t overeat either. And stay away from sleep-stealing foods.
- Keep digital devices out of your room (unless you’re using a sleep app).
- Make your room as dark as possible. Use blackout curtains if you can and invest in a sleep mask.
- Make your sleep environment as quiet as possible. Use earplugs or a white noise machine to help drown out other sounds.
- Keep cool at night by investing in bedding and pyjamas that are made with light fabrics like cotton, bamboo cotton and material made with special moisture-wicking properties.
- If you have anxiety, try to address the underlying causes through therapy, journaling, and reflection and guided meditation. You can also incorporate various techniques to relieve anxiety, like exercising and doing breathing exercises.
Making small, positive changes all add up to better sleep – and better chances of sleeping through the night.