Every person who has ever lived probably experienced waking up in the middle of the night. Most of the time, the occurrence isn’t much of a problem. It could have happened for a trivial reason. But if the incident happens for a prolonged amount of time, there may be underlying reasons which should be a cause for concern.
There are five stages of sleep that humans cycle through each night. These stages are categorized into deep sleep, rapid eye movement (REM) stage and light sleep. Deep sleep normally occurs earlier in the night and the other two happen later on.
It is important to identify the causes of waking in the undesirable hours of the night. Sleep is an important activity that restores, repairs and rejuvenates the body. Constantly losing sleep is detrimental both to short and long term health. It can cause a lack of focus, energy insufficiency and depression.
There are two main categories of causes of waking up at night – physical and psychological. And for each main category, there are multiple causes.
The physical causes of waking up in the middle of the night are those which may be causing discomfort. Comfort is important for each sleeping person.
Pain is one of the most easily identifiable causes. After suffering from an injury, it may be harder for a person to sleep. If they get to sleep, they might wake from pain after getting into the lighter stage of sleep.
- Digestion Issues
Digestive problems is another easily identifiable cause. Perhaps everyone can even relate to this. An irritable bowel system or an acid reflux can both be physically disturbing enough to cause us to wake up. Indigestion or eating spicy foods for dinner may be what caused your tummy troubles.
Peeing in the middle of the night can have quite a few causes. Perhaps you just drank too much fluids before bedtime. If it is just that, it isn’t much of a problem. However, it can also be because you have diabetes, heart disease or bladder problems.
- Breathing Trouble
This is also another probable cause. If you have asthma, bronchitis or any other lung problem, then you can expect being woken up by these problems.
For physical causes, you can go to medical professionals for help. For much of these, letting the natural course of healing or taking the proper medication is the only solution.
Sleep is most potent when our body temperature is cool. Ever had that irresistible feeling to sleep when it rains? It’s because rain lowers down the temperature just enough for a comfortable sleep. Not too cold, yet not stiflingly warm.
Overheating at night may happen because your room is too warm. Or it may be because of night sweats. If a warm bedroom is your problem, you can easily take steps to lower down the temperature of your bedroom. If your problem is night sweats, you can talk to your doctor to identify the underlying problem.
Psychological causes are more dangerous problems. Sometimes even physical causes are manifested by psychological causes. If your issues are psychological, a professional medical help is strongly advised.
- Anxiety and Depression
Losing sleep due to anxiety and depression is especially dangerous. If not taken care of, this may turn into a vicious cycle that is detrimental to both physical and mental health. Anxiety and depression causes irregular sleeping patterns. And an irregular sleeping pattern causes anxiety or depression. And so the cycle goes.
Both anxiety and depression causes the mind to remain active. People suffering from these illnesses find it hard to quiet their minds enough to find sleep.
If this is your problem, then I strongly suggest:
- Speaking to a therapist
- Taking appropriate medications
- Participating in relaxing activities or implementing relaxation techniques
- Relaxation techniques may be
- Listening to calming music
- Regular exercise
- Maintaining a relaxing ambience
- Reducing stress-inducing activities
People with insomnia can’t fall asleep at night. And if they do, they find it hard to remain asleep. It causes extreme fatigue and lack of concentration during the day. It is important for insomniacs to strive to maintain a regular sleeping habit to eventually overcome this problem.
Insomnia may be caused by depression or anxiety. And some of the ways to combat it is to:
- Exercise regularly
- Not sleeping during the day
- Sticking to a regular sleeping habit
- Avoiding heavy or spicy foods before bedtime
- Screens and Artificial Lights
All sources of artificial lights, especially from the screens of devices such as smartphones, computers or television, emit blue light. Blue light tricks the brain into thinking it is still day. It causes reduction of melatonin as well as a disrupted body clock.
All these cause sleeping problems. To remedy this, the National Sleep Foundation suggests stopping the use of electronic devices 30 mins to 2 hours before your bedtime.
Sleep apnea is one of the most common causes of untimely waking. Oftentimes, people with sleep apnea breathe too shallowly, which wakes them up. In most people with sleep apnea, they would not even notice that their sleep was interrupted.
The noticeable symptoms of sleep apnea are:
- Headaches during the day
- Gasping for air at night
- Lack of energy during the day
- Difficulty with concentration
If sleep apnea is your problem, an option you can take is going to sleep centers. Such institutions and other healthcare providers may suggest sleep treatment plans.
Sleep Apnea can also be cured via surgery, or using airway pressure apparatus, or oral appliances that allow more air into your system.
Tips for Better Sleeping Patterns
Here are a few tips that will enhance your general sleep hygiene:
- Reducing light
- Eliminating electronics from the sleeping environment
- Avoiding stimulating activities near bedtime
- Regular exercise
- Maintaining a consistent sleeping schedule
- Not napping during the day
- Placing clocks out of sight from the bed
- Developing a relaxing bedtime routine
Waking up in the middle of the night occasionally is not a troublesome issue. But if this occurrence is regular and prolonged, it is important to address the problem immediately.
Maintaining a healthy sleeping habit is beneficial both in daily life as well as in the long run. You should take the necessary steps to correct your own sleeping problems. Take the right lifestyle changes, seek the right professional help and battle all the underlying issues.