How to Turn Off Middle-Of-The-Night Insomnia
Upset woman lying in bed in sleepless

Most of us wake up two or three times in the middle of the night, mostly due to the need to urinate or night sweats.

Fortunately, such mini-awakenings are easy to fix, as we just need to visit the bathroom or add cooling sheets to our bedding sets.

However, for some people, waking up in the middle of the night is extremely frustrating, especially because they’re unable to fall asleep again.

About 20 to 50 percent of Americans suffer from Middle of the Night (MOTN) insomnia. This is a sleep-robbing awakening that makes it impossible to maintain sleep in a single block. People suffering from MOTN insomnia will wake up after a few hours of sleep and stay awake for hours on end.

If you often suffer from MOTN insomnia, here are sleeping tips that can help you get back to slumberland when sleep eludes you in the middle of the night.

1.     Get Out Of Bed

Staying in bed and watching the clock tick away won’t help you catch any sleep.

Instead, get up and engage in a calming and relaxing activity. For instance, gentle yoga exercises can help your body relax. You can also take a warm shower or write down your thoughts in a journal.

Another good way to deal with MOTN insomnia is to read a book. Don’t read the book in bed, as your brain may associate this behavior with wakefulness. Instead, sit in a comfortable chair in a different room and enjoy your novel. Also, avoid reading from an e-reader as the blue light from the e-reader will only make sleep even more elusive.

2.     Make Your Bedroom Comfortable

If you find yourself waking up frequently at night, your bedroom may be the problem.

Start by switching off the lights if they’re on. Bright lights signal your body to wake up and stay alert, which can ruin any hopes of getting back to sleep.

Also, ensure your bedroom temperature is between 60 and 67 degrees. A humidifier can help regulate the temperature in the room. Investing in quality bedding is another good idea. For instance, cooling bedsheets can protect you from night sweats, leading to a restful sleep.

3.     Try Out Relaxation Exercises

Stress increases your heart rate and blood pressure, making it impossible to enjoy quality sleep.

If stress is keeping you awake at night, try out the below relaxation exercises:

  •         Mindfulness meditation
  •         Hypnosis
  •         Guided imagery
  •         Yoga
  •         Progressive muscle relaxation
  •         Deep quiet breathing

Such exercises help you relax by slowing down your breathing and lowering your blood pressure.

4.     White Noise for Light Sleepers

If you’re a light sleeper, disruptive noises can wake you in the middle of the night and make it impossible for you to get back to sleep. Using pink or white noise can help keep off disruptive noise from your ears.

A white noise machine may also act as a cue to your body’s internal clock, signaling that it’s time to go back to sleep.

A noise-canceling machine is also portable, which is perfect if you’re trying to get a good night’s sleep at a noisy place or when traveling.

5.     Do Away With Electronic Devices

You may be tempted to watch TikTok videos when you’re unable to fall back to sleep at 2 am.

However, resist the urge to do so as electronic devices, including your phone, tablet, and computer, emit blue light, making it even harder for you to get any sleep.

Blue light deceives your brain into thinking that it’s daytime. This causes your body to stop releasing the sleep hormone melatonin.

Dimming your phone’s screen or wearing special glasses won’t tone down the negative effect of blue light. So, it’s better to avoid electronics altogether during your midnight wakefulness.

6.     Don’t Grab an Unhealthy Snack

The type of foods you eat can disrupt your sleep.

Even worse, eating during your MOTN insomnia can slow down your body’s metabolism. Foods high in carbs are particularly bad for rest, as they’re harder to digest.

Moreover, don’t give in to cravings for sugary and high-fat snacks, such as pizza, ice cream, cookies, and chips. Snacking on such foods can condition your body to wake up on subsequent nights to get the rewarding snack.

If you wake up and feel the need to eat something, go for a healthy snack. Healthy snack choices include fruits, low sugar cereals, healthy toast, cheese, or crackers.

7.     Follow Your Normal Sleep Schedule

Spending almost the entire night awake will make your body tired. This may tempt you to nap during the day or go to bed early the following evening. 

However, experts advise against changing your sleep routine. Instead, wake up and go to bed at your usual time. 

Besides, MOTN insomnia can work in your favor if you follow your regular sleep schedule, as it will increase your appetite for sleep. The result is that you’ll get a better night’s sleep on your next night.

Further, waking up and sleeping at the same time every night will help put your body’s internal clock back on track.

In closing, the above tips can help deal with the occasional middle-of-the-night insomnia.

However, if you’re dealing with chronic insomnia, you need to see a doctor. In some instances, chronic MOTN insomnia may be caused by a medical condition that needs treatment.

So, talk to a sleep specialist to determine the cause of your insomnia if the above remedies don’t work.

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