10 Reasons Why You’re Waking Up In The Middle Of The Night

By MaryAnn DePietro, CRT. May 7th 2016

If you find yourself frequently waking up in the middle of the night, you may have insomnia. Although some people think insomnia is defined as having difficulties falling asleep, it can also involve difficulty staying asleep. The technical term for frequent interrupted sleep is sleep maintenance insomnia. Waking up in the middle of the night can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness, loss of concentration and memory problems. The first step to get better rest is determining why you have trouble staying asleep.

1. Too Much Caffeine

Caffeine is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to waking up in the middle of the night. Caffeine is a stimulant and may not only cause difficulty falling asleep, but it can interrupt sleep. According to the Mayo Clinic, your best bet is to avoid caffeine after lunchtime. Keep in mind, caffeine is not only in coffee, but is also present in soda, tea and certain foods. For more information, see 10 Possible Side Effects Of Too Much Caffeine.

2. Being Inactive

Being sedentary can lead to various sleep problems, including waking up in the middle of the night. Regular exercise can help you reach a deeper sleep and cut down on waking up throughout the night. Although regular exercise can improve sleep, avoid vigorous exercise too close to bedtime, which can interfere with falling asleep. Try to do moderate aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes a day on most days.

3. Bedroom Environment

It can be difficult to stay asleep if your bedroom is not comfortable. If your mattress is lumpy or the temperature is not conducive to sleep, it can cause you to wake up often. Most people sleep better in a cool, dark environment. Also, invest in a mattress, which provides the right amount of firmness and support.

4. Medical Illness

There are many medical conditions that can cause sleep disturbances, including frequently waking up in the middle of the night. For example, illnesses that cause chronic pain, such as arthritis and back problems, may be worse when lying down. Even if you are able to get to sleep, pain may cause you to wake up in the middle of the night. Getting proper treatment and finding ways to reduce pain may also increase your ability to stay asleep throughout the night.

5. Sleep Disorder

Sleep disorders can often lead to problems waking up in the middle of the night. For example, sleep apnea, which can cause the upper airway to become obstructed, can lead to interrupted sleep. Also, restless leg syndrome causes an urge to move the legs when you’re inactive, like while trying to fall sleep. Other sleep conditions that may lead to

frequent nighttime waking include circadian rhythm disorders and periodic limp movement disorder.

6. Stress

Many people have had a sleepless night or two due to a stressful time in their life, but chronic stress can lead to waking up throughout the night. If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night thinking about certain issues or with your mind racing, anxiety may be to blame. Before going to sleep, consider doing activities that promote relaxing, such as deep breathing, gentle stretching or taking a warm bath.

7. Hunger Or Thirst

If you go to bed hungry or thirsty, don’t be surprised if you wake up a few hours later.

Eating a big meal before bed can interfere with deep sleep, but a light snack or non caffeinated beverage may help prevent you from waking up due to hunger or thirst. For more information, read 10 Foods That Make You Sleepy Before Bedtime.

8. Medications

Medication can have side effects that lead to sleep disruptions. These medications include common cold medicine, steroids and beta blockers, according to Harvard Medical School. While you never want to stop taking prescription medications without talking with your doctor, there may be alternatives that won’t contribute to nighttime waking.

9. Hormones

Hormone changes, which can occur during pregnancy and menopause, can wreak havoc on your sleep. Problems with the thyroid gland can also lead to hormone changes, which interfere with sleep. While you can’t always control hormone levels, developing a bedtime routine, improving your sleep environment and relaxing before bed all may help you sleep sounder.

10. Bedmate

Your sleep habits are not the only thing that affects your ability to sleep soundly. Your bedmate also plays a part in how well you sleep. It can be difficult to sleep deeply and restfully if your bedmate is tossing, snoring or pulling the blankets off you all night. Before you head off to separate rooms, try simple strategies, such as ear plugs to block out noise and a mattress that reduces how much movement you feel from your partner.

Having trouble sleeping through the night is not just for newborns. Many adults have problems waking up in the middle of the night. Keeping a sleep log may help you determine what factors are contributing to sleep interruptions. If waking up in the middle of the night is occurring often and causing excessive daytime sleepiness, talk to your doctor about possible treatments.


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