Ask Dr. Lisa: Why Do I Wake Up at Night?

Everyone has questions, and now SleepBetter has a way for you to get answers to your sleep questions!  Each week we pick out a few questions submitted on our Facebook Page, and send them to our medical sleep expert, Dr. Lisa Shives.  If you have questions for Dr. Lisa (The Sleep M.D.) just post them for us!

In this installment, Dr. Lisa talks about sleep apnea worries, how many pillows you should have in your bed, and more!


Layne Clawson asks: How can I train myself to sleep on my back rather than my stomach?

There are positional devices that you can buy that keep you on your back by making it uncomfortable to sleep on your stomach.  They are based on the old idea of tennis balls sewn into a pocket on the back of a t-shirt.

Carmen Smith asks: I wake up at the same time every night.  What are some of the reasons for regular nighttime wakings?

Often we don’t know, but one thing could be alcohol consumption.  When the hypnotic effect wears off, people often awaken and are wide awake.  It may also be that sleep apnea is disturbing your sleep and you only remain awake from apneic arousal after you’ve had four hours of sleep or so.

Leslie C. asks: Dr. Lisa, Hello! My bed is 35 years old…the mattress, the boxspring, all of it. Yes, I know- Get a new bed! I can’t afford one right now, I have expenses with authoring a book.:) What can I do as a side sleeper to relieve my lower back pain, other than sleep with a pillow between my knees?

One thing you can do to improve the comfort of an old mattress is purchase a high quality mattress topper.  They cost much less than a new mattress, but can firm up a mattress that’s gotten too soft, or soften one that’s too hard.  Check out this article for information on mattress toppers.  Regarding your lower back pain, that could be a physical issue and it should be investigated.  If you haven’t already, consult your chiropractor, orthopedic surgeon, or family doctor.

Dr. Shives works with to provide a medical view of sleep issues. She is one of only a few practitioners with a fellowship in Sleep Medicine in addition to board certification by both the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Sleep Medicine.

Learn more about Dr. Lisa Shives by clicking here.