Ask SleepBetter: Can’t Go Back to Sleep

Have you wondered about something related to sleep, but just can’t find the answer? Lots of people do, and that’s why we created Ask SleepBetter. You can ask your own question on the SleepBetter Facebook Page, or by using our Ask SleepBetter contact form. We will try to answer as many questions as possible, but we are not able to answer queries about physical issues or medicinal issues. Those should be addressed face-to-face with a physician.

Today’s question is from a site visitor whose nighttime wakings are a problem:

My problem is not falling asleep, but staying asleep. I  usually wake up at about 5 am, have to go to the bathroom, and then can not fall back to sleep. I am sure this is from working many years and having to be up at five, but that is no longer the case. How to I train my body to fall back asleep?
-Scott (via Email)

The first thing we suggest is that you discuss this with your doctor.  While this doesn’t seem like a dangerous problem, it’s always a good idea to get a face-to-face medical opinion first.

Once you’ve ruled out any physical issues, one thing you might try is to eliminate the early morning bathroom break.  Try to reduce your fluid intake in the evenings. Don’t drink anything an hour before bed, and avoid diuretics like alcohol or anything with caffeine.  Also, make sure you go to the bathroom just before turning in.

To address the issues falling back to sleep, we pulled this quote from a article that discussed a study on the best way to fall asleep. Note that it was published in the winter.

A 2002 study looked at the best technique to use to fall asleep. Researchers at Oxford split their subjects into groups. They told some to picture something calm while trying to fall asleep, while some were told to count sheep and others were given no instructions. The subjects who were told to picture a calming scene fell asleep an average of 20 minutes faster than those who counted sheep or received no instructions. So, if you’re having trouble sleeping, try to imagine you’re on a beautiful beach in the middle of the summer … particularly when it’s as cold outside as it is in most of the country right now!

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