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How to Sleep Through the Night

How to Sleep Through the Night - Woman having trouble sleeping at night

YOU CHECK YOUR ALARM clock, and you realize that it is 3:00 am. 

You have been awake for the last thirty minutes, and this is the second time you are waking up tonight.

Before you know, it another 30 minutes pass and you start panicking, wondering how you will manage the day. How you wish you would stay asleep from the moment, you lie down until your alarm wakes you up.

Sleep maintenance insomnia

According to experts, mid-sleep awakening (sleep maintenance insomnia) is the most common form of sleep complaint in many people. It is estimated that sleep maintenance insomnia affects 40% of the adult population.

With sleep maintenance insomnia, you will not have any trouble drifting off to sleep when your head hits the pillow. However, night after night, you will find yourself awake and staring at your alarm at some point in the night.

Sleep maintenance insomnia takes various forms. You:

  • Sleep a few hours, and then you wake up
  • Wake up suddenly and then you are unable to fall back to sleep
  • Find yourself in-between a state where you feel half-awake while asleep.
  • Wake up too early and then you are unable to get back to sleep. (This form of sleep maintenance insomnia crosses over into a type of insomnia known as early morning awakening)
  • Wake up briefly but frequently throughout the night.

3 causes of sleep maintenance insomnia

The most significant cause of insomnia is stress and anxiety. Experts indicate that many people often stay awake thinking about their problems.

They ruminate over their worries, and they then experience anxiety attacks in the middle of the night. Other possible causes of insomnia include:

1. Eating too close to bedtime

Eating too close to your bedtime will interfere with your sleep. Experts say that eating just before bed increases the chances of gastro esophageal reflux disease, in which the stomach acid flows back into the aesophagus.

Also, instead of your body resting during sleep, it has to digest the food that you ate just before bedtime. Experts recommended eating 3 – 4 hours before bedtime.

2. Exposure to Blue light before sleep time

We are exposed to Blue light through the use of digital screens. Experts say that blue light suppresses melatonin, the sleep hormone.

While blue light may not be very harmful during the day, it keeps your brain alert during the night and makes it unable to shut down and relax for sleep.

3. Booze

Alcohol is another major cause of insomnia. Initially, alcohol will put you to sleep pretty quickly.

However, as it wears off, your consciousness will drift to the surface. You will wake up with discomforts such as headaches, and you will find it hard to go back to sleep.

How to sleep through the night

To break the vicious cycle of sleep maintenance insomnia, we will give you several actionable steps.

1. Set a regular schedule

Getting to sleep and staying asleep are two different things. What you do or do not do before bedtime has a significant impact on the quality of your sleep.  Here are a few things you can do to ensure that you set yourself up for a good, uninterrupted night’s sleep.

Make going to bed a soothing experience. It is essential to set a pre-sleep routine for yourself that you follow every night.

This routine signals to your brain and body that it is time to quiet down. This may include some form of relaxation, like a warm bath or reading a book, feel-good music, or meditation.

It is important to wait until your body is ready to power down for the night before you get into bed. This will relieve sleep maintenance insomnia.

Go from light to dark. Darkness stimulates the production of sleep hormone melatonin. Before you go to bed, turn off all unused lights around the house.

It is also advisable that you invest in a warm light that you can use in your bedroom before bedtime.

Wake up at the same time every day. You may not have control over what time you fall asleep, but you can certainly have a fixed wake-up time. Waking up at the same time each day will help to improve the quality of your sleep.

2. Reduce interfering sleep activities

Getting adequate sleep is about what you do, as well as what you do not do. Therefore, there are some things that you should reduce (and ideally eliminate) for a sound, restful sleep.

  • Avoid alcohol caffeine and tobacco use in the several hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid daytime napping. Napping can interfere with your sleep cycle.
  • Avoid strenuous exercise just before bed. Exercising just before bedtime will keep your mind alert and unable to calm down to sleep. However, light exercises like yoga and gentle stretches might increase your chance of getting quality sleep.

3. Make your bedroom sleep inducing

If you hope to beat sleep maintenance insomnia, make your bedroom conducive for sleep. This involves keeping noise and light at levels that are comfortable so as not disturb your rest.

Keep electronics outside the room. One of the most damaging things to your sleep is the notifications you keep getting from your gadgets.

4. Adjust your room temperature

According to Sleep. Org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60 – 67 Fahrenheit.

This may be cooler than what you are used to but bear in mind that your body temperature changes once you fall asleep.

For people who have poor circulation, the feet could still be suffering from the chill even when the temperatures are ideal.

If you are one of those people whose soles may need consoling for bedtime, a warm pair of socks might just do the trick.

Did you know: Sleeping in a cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

5. What about your bed?

If you are experiencing sleep maintenance insomnia, your bed could be the culprit. How old is your mattress? When was the last time you replaced your pillow? What is the quality of your bedspread and sheets?

Giving your body a makeover may be the solution to your restless nights.

6. Eat the night nutrients

What you eat contributes greatly to the quality of your sleep. Some of the foods that have been found to aid in sound sleep include:

  • Kiwi: Kiwi is full of vitamin C and E, serotonin and folate; all which will help your mind to calm down.
  • Soy foods: Soy foods like Tofu, Miso, and edamame contain isoflavones. Experts indicate that isoflavones increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences your body’s sleep-wake cycle.    
  • Salmon: Salmon contains vitamin B6 which is needed to make melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone that is amazingly triggered by darkness.

A homemade solution:

Banana tea: Aside from being rich in potassium, bananas are swarming with magnesium, which is believed to lower cortisol, the stress hormone, hence soothing your body to sleep.

7. Supplements:

Sometimes you may need a little extra help, and there is where supplements come in. Supplements like valerian, melatonin, chamomile, 5-HTP, L-Theanine and magnesium, among others are excellent choices for people who need the help of natural sleep aids.

8. Can't sleep? Get out of bed

If you cannot sleep within 20 minutes of being in bed, or you wake up and cannot fall back to sleep, get out of bed and stay out of bed until you feel sleepy.

By staying in bed, the chances are that you will get frustrated and you will find it even harder to fall asleep.

More information

There are exercises and things you can do to help you nod off when your ready to sleep.

Last thoughts…

Do not do anything stimulating when you get out of bed. Distract yourself with a calming activity until you start to feel sleepy again. And whatever you do, avoid the temptation to keep on checking the time.

If you are having serious trouble sleeping, it is advisable that you keep track of your sleep patterns for a week or two.

If you realize that you are spending less than 80% of your time in bed sleeping, it could either mean:

  • That you are spending too much time in bed
  • Your sleep maintenance insomnia is chronic, in which case a medical condition could be the cause

It is advisable that you then see a sleep specialist, who will determine the cause of your insomnia and prescribe the best treatment.

DISCLAIMER: This web site does not take the place of your usual medical practitioner, it is intended to give information only and not to diagnose or provide medical treatment. It cannot cover all possible uses, interactions and adverse side effects. If you are at all worried about your health - please see your own doctor. Do not delay this as a result of anything you may have read about on the web. Many symptoms can result from a variety of causes, some may require specialist diagnosis and treatment. You should also consult your medical practitioner before taking any supplements as some of them may react with essential medicines or have harmful side effects.

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