Insomnia and waking up during the night don’t just ruin your night; they also affect your physical well-being and state of mind. Sleep disorders shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Did you know?
Regular sleep disturbances increase your risk of weight gain, cardiovascular diseases, and other adverse effects.
What is the difference between insomnia and waking up at night?
A nocturnal awakening is a sleep disturbance. You may wake up one or more times in the middle of the night. These awakenings may be brief, long, or even make it impossible to get back to sleep.
The term insomnia is used when a person has difficulty falling asleep upon going to bed (onset insomnia), in the case of lengthy nocturnal awakenings, or when a person wakes up too early in the morning and is unable to get back to sleep.
As a rule of thumb, if it takes you longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep, or if you are awake for more than 30 minutes in the middle of the night, you are experiencing insomnia.
How can you avoid insomnia and nocturnal awakenings?
There are several steps you can take to limit or even eliminate nocturnal awakenings or trouble falling asleep.
Make sure, too, that you’re getting some fresh air and sunlight for 10 to 15 minutes, three or four times per week, so your body produces vitamin D. In winter, vitamin D supplements are often recommended (always check with your doctor before starting a course of treatment).
Every evening, an hour or two before bedtime, establish a relaxing environment for yourself. Turn off LEDs, televisions, phones, etc.—anything that might harm your sleep quality.
Instead, use soft lighting, make some herbal tea, give yourself a facial massage, or choose a relaxing book to read or piece of music to listen to. The idea is to spend some time winding down, sending the message to your brain that it’s time to rest.
When you go to bed, listen to a relaxing guided meditation to help you fall asleep quickly.
More generally, it’s best to go to bed and wake up at consistent times. That makes it easier for your body to fall asleep at bedtime.
A helpful tip: Starchy foods won’t harm your sleep quality. In fact, you shouldn’t deny yourself food before bedtime. The idea that we expend less energy at night is a common misconception! The body needs energy for proper renewal during sleep. Moreover, hunger can be associated with waking up during the night.
Recommended reading: 9 effective solutions to relieve stress
What should you do if you wake up at night?
Avoid telling yourself you absolutely need to sleep; that just puts pressure on you. Put it into perspective. You have just awakened during the night because you are between two sleep cycles. It’s not a big deal; sleep will take over again soon.
You can also repeat the sleep meditation technique.
If you’re still awake, try to stay in the dark to make falling asleep easier. If you feel the need to get up, turn on a low-intensity light and read a bit, waiting for the signs of sleepiness (yawning, eyelids feeling heavy, etc.). At that point, whatever you do, don’t fight it; let yourself go to sleep.
Don’t let sleep disturbances become a habit
If insomnia and nocturnal awakenings persist and have a negative effect on your quality of life, be sure to see your doctor, who will be able to determine the best course of treatment for you.