Insomnia is usually thought of as a disorder that makes it difficult for people to fall asleep. But it’s not only FALLING asleep that can be an issue for people with insomnia; in fact, many people with insomnia have very little trouble getting asleep, they just wake up in the middle of the night and have a hard time returning to slumber. There are a number of reasons that you might be waking up in the middle of the night. Read on for some of them.
1. Mental Health Issues
No surprise here: people experiencing stress, depression and other mental health problems often find it difficult to go to sleep and difficulty staying asleep. If you don’t have any other underlying health conditions, there’s a good chance that what is waking you up in the middle of the night is due to stress.
Stimulant medications can understandably impact your sleep quality. Medications prescribed for heart and thyroid issues, as well as asthma can also impact your sleep patterns and may cause you to wake up in the middle of the night. If you’re concerned about your sleep habits, talk to your doctor about any prescriptions you are taking.
3. Too Much Light
Too much light can impact your quality of sleep, and, yep, make you wake up at 4AM. It doesn’t even take all that much light—the glare of your alarm clock or the morning sun peaking through the curtains is enough to cause a wake-up. A lot of it comes down to evolution, and the fact that our bodies haven’t fully adapted to the post-industrial world. Once upon a time, most people woke with the sun and went to bed with the darkness. Now that most people have electricity and people don’t work on the farms as much, our sleep schedules have been altered.
There are simple fixes to this, though. Make sure your curtains keep out as much light as possible and turn your alarm clock away from the bed.
4. Too Much Napping
A small nap can be good for you—but too many naps,or for too long? Well, you’re setting yourself up for a night of restlessness and being more prone to middle of the night wake-ups. It’s becoming clearer that napping once a day is good for all of us, certainly, but try to limit your naps to 1 hour, and don’t nap any later than about 3PM.
Many people use alcohol to fall asleep—and, in small amounts, this is true: alcohol will help you get some shuteye. But the quality of that sleep, as you might imagine, isn’t up to par with when you’re sober. The more alcohol you drink, studies suggest, the worse your sleep will be impacted. Alcohol in your system can actually make you more prone to sleep issues like apnea and sleepwalking, too. And the deepest stage of sleep, commonly known as REM, is cut short by alcohol, which can have major implications for how rested you feel the next day. How often you wake up in the middle of the night can also be impacted by the booze, especially as it begins to wear off.
6. Your Bedroom is Too Cold
It’s so cozy to fall asleep in a nice, cool, room. And, certainly, a cold room can make it easier to fall asleep—but it doesn’t help you stay asleep. When a room is too cold, it can actually cause you to wake up in the middle of the night. Ideally, your room should be at a nice 65 degrees.
Researchers aren’t quite clear why, but the older you get, the less sleep you need, and the more likely you are to wake up in the middle of the night. Women are hit especially hard by sleep issues as they age, particularly with the onset of menopause.
8. Underlying Disorders
People who suffer from chronic pain, cardiovascular issues, neurological disorders, diabetes and others often experience middle-of-the-night wake ups. If you think your sleep issues are related to your underlying health issues, talk to your doctors for ways to remedy this—there are many disorder-specific treatments available.
People who experience chronic pain often have difficulty sleeping, and are much more prone to waking up in the middle of the night.