How to Stay Asleep Once You Are Asleep
We have written before with tips on how to get to sleep in the first place - but staying asleep for the rest of the night can be a problem for many.
Our suggestions for turning those restless nights into a deep and stable "shut-eye experience" follow below...
1. Learning that it is normal to wake up during the night! Sleep is made up of three stages: light, deep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Each stage has a different task - growth and repair; mood regulation; and memory processing. Human evolution means that you move between all three sleep stages roughly every one and a half to two hours. This is why it is so common to wake up at 3.30 am. The hypothesis is that brief awakenings are a survival mechanism - enabling us to check for danger. This explains why it is absolutely normal for us to wake up in the night - and why you might find yourself to be more awake than normal during any stressful times.
2. Reducing that daytime stress. It is a given that we often suffer from stress but too much of the stress hormone cortisol can not only cause delayed sleep onset but it can also fragment our sleep. This means we wake during the night or we wake up too early in the morning. With nearly fifty percent of sleep issues blamed on stress and hyper-arousal, it makes good sense to take advantage of any stress busters that work for you. These include regular pauses during the day; giving yourself a reward for something well done; or taking a walk outside in nature. If you can reframe your perception of stress, this can help to ensure you are not left with too much cortisol in your system when your body needs to to wind down ready for rest and then sleep.
3. Making sure that your bed is perfect. If your bed is uncomfortable and your mattress and pillows unsupportive, you are more likely to wake up to change positions and try to get comfortable. You might even suffer from back or neck pain from sleeping in an odd position. Have a good look at your sleeping arrangements and make changes if needed and if you are able to.
4. Removing those bedtime clocks. Whatever method you use to check the time as soon as you wake, this is likely to make you anxious about how little sleep you have had - or make you start calculating how much time you have left before you have to get up, leading to even more anxiety and making it harder to go back to sleep again. Instead, move clocks and other devices out of sight so that you cannot see them when you wake, helping you to fall back to sleep more easily.
5. Limiting salt and sugar. Apart from other health problems caused by food high in salt, it can also disrupt your sleep - from feeling thirsty (high sodium foods can lead to increased water retention which in turn dehydrates your body); raised blood pressure (making it more difficult to relax); and frequent bathroom trips (as salt can prompt your body to produce more urine). Meanwhile, sugar is a well known stimulant, rapidly increasing blood glucose levels which lead to a burst of energy alertness which is NOT something you want in the middle of the night.
6. Keeping it cool. Try to make sure the bedroom is a good temperature for sleep. For adults, it is recommended to keep the temperature between between 59 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit for the best sleeping conditions. Being too hot in the night is another cause of waking and restlessness. And whenever possible, keep a window open for fresh air.
7. Quality over quantity. Instead of worrying about the number of hours of sleep you are getting, think about the quality of that sleep. if you feel it is poor, it might be helpful to restrict the time you spend in bed for a few days, going to bed as late as you comfortably can and setting your alarm for an hour earlier. Get up with that alarm and use the extra hour to do something that makes you feel good. It could be a run, a yoga or exercise session or starting the day with some meditation. After three to four days, you could well notice an improvement in the quality of your sleep.
8. Don't fall into the trap of waking yourself up further. It is said that how you respond to waking up in the middle of the night determines whether you shift into a state of active wakefulness (as in the daytime) or remain in quiet wakefulness. If you start engaging in daytime activities like checking your phone, switching on the light to read or getting up to make yourself a drink, these will contribute to waking you up further. However, choosing to stay in bed in a state of quiet wakefulness, comes with many benefits similar to sleep itself including energy conservation, repair and more.
9. Get to know your chronotype. This is a natural aid that dictates whether you a morning person, a night time person or someone who is in between. If you don't know, it makes it more difficult to improve your sleep. Understanding your body's natural patterns for sleep and wakefulness is very helpful for anyone who has trouble with getting to sleep and staying that way.
10. What is causing those bathroom visits? Do you wake up and have to visit the bathroom once, twice or even more during the night? Try monitoring your liquid intake during the evening as it could be something as simple as drinking too much. But it might also be wise to visit your doctor to rule out any underlying medical cause. Needing the toilet can also be a sign of anxiety.
Add a couple of drops of H-Sleep Aid Formula to the back of your neck at bedtime. This safe and gentle product with homeopathic ingredients ensures that symptoms of sleeplessness are tackled naturally.
Massage one or two drops on the temples and back of the neck thirty minutes before bedtime. Then if you wake up during the night, you may reapply.
We have all heard that saying "Sleep like a baby!" Perhaps you can too...