Most adults have had the experience of being wide awake at 3 a.m. after waking up at night. The inability to go back to sleep is frustrating, to say the least, but also exhausting. Whether you wake up because your bladder beckons or a nightmare scares you awake, you don’t want to experience difficulty when you go to drift off again.
The mind becomes flooded with thoughts, worries, or things you forgot to do during the day. You lose sleep as a result and the underlying question is: Will I be able to fall back asleep? Waking up from restful sleep is very common and most people can fall back asleep. According to sleep surveys, though, one-fifth of American adults experience difficulty falling back asleep after waking up at night.
There are numerous reasons why a person wakes up from their slumber. Caffeinated beverages, too much alcohol before bed, the need to pee, and a few others are common causes. Instead of tossing and turning after waking up at night, experiment with the following strategies that help you fall back asleep.
Meditation helps to calm the mind, so it stands to reason that it can help you fall back asleep when the mind is racing. By engaging in meditation, you activate the parasympathetic nervous system, encourage slower breathing, and lower the heart rate. According to one study, participants who practice mindful awareness saw a significant improvement in sleep. A simple exercise of following your breath and letting your thoughts come and go can help you sleep better and fall back asleep after waking up.
Avoid Clock Watching
Unless you want to feel more anxious about not sleeping, don’t look at the clock when trying to fall back asleep. If you continue to look at the clock, you only increase your anxiety, when that effort could be spent falling back asleep. Sleep experts say that you should not get worked up about waking up at night and sleeping poorly. The anxiety around waking up can perpetuate the problem, leading to more restless nights of sleep. Obsessing over the time causes you to calculate how long you have until you have to wake up. This can make you anxious, which increases blood pressure, making it difficult to fall asleep. Don’t let the clock tempt you! Resist the urge!
Use Deep Breathing
If stress continues to keep you up after waking up at night, considering combating stress using deep breathing. When done correctly, deep breathing can promote relaxation and slow the heart rate to ease you in to sleep. Lie down on your back in your bed and put your hands on your stomach. Close your eyes and take a slow, deep breath in through your nose, feeling your abdomen rise. Try to breathe in for a six-second count and then release the breath out of your mouth for the same amount of time. Deep breathing in this way allows the diaphragm to relax the body and mind, according to sleep specialists.
Distract The Mind With A Quiet Activity
Distracting the mind is a helpful way to fall back asleep. Instead of focusing you attention on falling asleep, engage in a non-stimulating activity like listening to music, guided meditation, or counting. A great distraction exercise to quiet the mind is counting backward from 300 in threes. It’s complicated and will keep your mind occupied, so much so that you may feel anything but stress. Just make sure to do the activity with the lights off, as turning lights on may cause your brain to feel more awake.
Use A Weighted Blanket
If you experience anxiety after waking up at night, especially if a nightmare is the culprit, a weighted blanket may help lull you back to sleep. Weighted blankets apply gentle pressure to the body, which activates the parasympathetic nervous system. The more you activate the parasympathetic nervous system, the easier time you’ll have falling asleep. Additionally, the more active that system is during sleep, the more your body is able to recover.
Cooling The Body
If you wake up from night sweats or you simply wake up from a warm environment, it will be difficult to fall back asleep without cooling the body down. Ideally, you should keep your sleeping environment at a temperature near 65 degrees Fahrenheit, give or take a few degrees. Sleeping in the right environment can help you avoid uncomfortable nighttime disturbances. Cool the body down by wiping the body off with a cool towel before you go back to bed. You can also take a drink of cold water. Lastly, consider placing an ice pack on the back of your neck, which will help cool the body and relieve potential neck pain or headaches.