Ask SleepBetter: Why Do I Wake Up At Night?

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 related to nighttime wakings:

“I wake up every single night no matter what. I forget what it feels like to sleep through the entire night and get enough sleep. It makes me so mad.”

-Brandi Marie (via Facebook)

There are a lot of reasons for nighttime wakings, Brandi.  The first thing we always suggest to people is that they discuss any sleep problems with their doctor.  There are physical issues that can cause sleeplessness, and it’s a good idea to rule those out before proceeding.  Beyond that, here’s a short list of non-physical things that can cause nighttime wakings:

  • Noise: This seems obvious, but if you’re up at nearly the same time every night, maybe there’s something in your neighborhood that makes noise that will wake you up.  Perhaps a trash truck, barking dogs or a neighbor leaving early in the morning for work?
  • Caffeine: We all know caffeine keeps you awake or keeps you from sleeping soundly.  If you drink coffee or sodas in the evening or even late in the afternoon, try avoiding it for a few days to see if it makes a difference.
  • Alcohol: A few drinks before bed will make you sleepy, so many people think they’re like a sleep aid.  The problem comes, however, when the alcohol wears off.  Many people wake up at that point, and can’t go back to sleep.  Try avoiding alcohol of any kind for a few days and see if that stops your nighttime wakings.
  • Low blood sugar: If your body is hungry, it secretes hormones that can wake you up.  Try eating something light and healthy that is full of protein right before bed.  Don’t stuff yourself, though, as that can cause problems all on its own.
  • Temperature: Does your bedroom get too cold or hot in the middle of the night?  This could absolutely cause nighttime wakings.
  • Your bedding: If your mattress and pillows are too firm or too soft, they can cause you to be uncomfortable and wake up.  If your pillow is more than two years old, consider replacing it.  If your mattress is old and mushy, look into buying a high quality mattress pad or topper that will firm it up.  For suggestions, check out our Recommended Products page.

In the end, there are dozens of reasons you could be waking in the night, and these are just a few of the most likely.  If your doctor rules out a physical issue, and none of the possibilities above apply to you, it might benefit you to visit a sleep professional.  Click here to search for one in your area.

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