Can you relate to waking up in the middle of the night and not falling asleep for what seems like forever? You toss and turn or lie wide awake while your partner sleeps like a rock. You want to nudge them and ask, “Why do I keep waking up at night?” but at least one of you needs a good night’s sleep. The truth is, when your sleep quality suffers, your partner’s usually does, too. Many individuals experience insomnia and other sleep issues, and even when it affects one partner and not the other, finding the right solutions is a shared effort. You may need to make some big lifestyle changes to improve your sleeping, but don’t worry. They aren’t difficult and the benefits include improving your overall health and wellness.
There are some instances where your sleep pattern has been altered by things such as pregnancy, acid reflux, indigestion, diabetes, menopause, heartburn, hormones or arthritis, as well as issues including bladder or stomach problems and various other health conditions.
Ready for a restful night’s sleep for both of you? We’ve gathered expert insights to teach you why your body wakes up and how to not wake up at night. We also share advice for what to do when you experience insomnia, (one of the most common sleep problems), in the meantime, because establishing healthy habits and a good bedtime routine takes time.
Why Do I Wake Up at Night?
There are several reasons adults wake up at night, and some of them are perfectly healthy and normal. But some negative habits may be causing you to wake up regularly and not be able to fall asleep quickly and soundly. In fact, your diet and lifestyle could be setting you or your partner up for the exact sleep cycle you want to escape. We’ll talk about ways to overcome insomnia next, but first let’s look at some of its main causes. Next time you’re wondering, “Why do I always wake up at night?” while your partner keeps snoozing, you can run through this checklist of common questions and keep reading for practical solutions.
- You’re Between REM cycles
- You’re Experiencing Stress or Anxiety
- Your Body Is Craving Nutrients
- Your Sleep Environment Is Uncomfortable
- You’ve Consumed Alcohol or Caffeine Too Close to Bedtime
How Not to Wake Up at Night
1. If You’re Between REM Cycles…
Don’t look at the clock. Really, don’t.
As it turns out, most of our deep sleep happens in our first 3-5 hours of sleep each night. Most of us are out like lights for at least that long. Almost everyone wakes up briefly as they move in and out of REM (rapid eye movement) cycles. It’s possible that the common habit of waking up in the wee hours of the morning—about 4 hours after going to bed—is part of your body’s normal sleep pattern. It’s other factors that could be keeping you from falling back to sleep that are getting between you and a good night’s sleep. If you look at the clock on your phone and immediately start counting down the hours until you have to get up, you’re not allowing your mind or your eyes to rest. It is sleep habits such as this that are something you are going to need to deal with.
2. If You’re Experiencing Stress or Anxiety…
Take care of your mental health—as an individual and as a couple.
Life is full of varying levels of stress and anxiety—that’s perfectly normal—but during especially high-pressure times in your life, these issues can start to affect your sleep. When you go to bed after a long day, your exhausted body overrules your mind and you may fall asleep quickly at first. But once you’ve had a few hours of sleep, your mind can use that quiet time to replay all the things you’ve been anxious about. Every. Single. Thing. The more stress you have in your life—whether that’s work related or about your health etc.—the more you have to feed your anxiety. If you are a person that has problems with stress, then it is probably likely that you will need to speak to a mental health professional
If you struggle with anxiety, don’t fall into the trap of worrying about insomnia every time you wake up at night. You don’t have to feel self-conscious about insomnia around your partner or blame yourself and ask, “Why do I keep waking up at night?” Remember that you’re learning the habits you need to get more restful sleep. Consider meeting with a mental healthcare provider either alone or with your partner. They can help you establish healthy stress and anxiety management skills as a household. Practicing meditation or regular exercise as a couple can also be a great start.
3. If Your Body is Craving Nutrients…
Eat a balanced diet and get some sunshine.
Your body is always using energy and nutrients to help you live your best life. You might think of some vitamins and minerals as immune system boosters or bone builders, but many of the most important nutrients also help you sleep soundly. And what’s more, you can find some powerful insomnia stoppers in common ingredients. You and your partner can try new snooze-inducing recipes together and track your progress. Learn how these essential nutrients can affect your sleep quality:
- Potassium increases sleep efficiency and works to reduce episodes of waking up during the night, according to a study published in the Journal of Sleep. You’ll find potassium in fresh fruits and vegetables, including bananas, melons and leafy greens.
- Calcium helps your brain produce melatonin, and calcium deficiency has been linked to disruptions and waking up during REM sleep cycles. Calcium-rich foods include both dairy and plant sources, such as yogurt, almonds and beans.
- Magnesium deficiency is also linked to chronic insomnia, and people with low magnesium levels often experience restless sleep. Foods high in magnesium are rich and delicious, like avocados, dark chocolate and nuts. Sounds like dessert!
- Vitamin B12 plays an important role in metabolizing energy at the cellular level. If you’re deficient in vitamin B12, you can experience fatigue, digestive issues and, you guessed it, insomnia. Vitamin B12 is found naturally in animal products like eggs, fish and dairy, so vegans and vegetarians often benefit from supplementing this nutrient.
- Vitamin D is a multitasker, and in a review of several reports, researchers at Qingdao University found that there is definitely a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and insomnia. If you’re able to get outside in direct sunlight for 30 minutes each day, you’re likely getting enough vitamin D, but it can take effort to start this healthy habit.
(Note: It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before you start experimenting with any supplements, especially if you are already taking other medication for any other conditions you may have, or if you are recovering from surgery or are having treatment for depression, cancer, or any other problem or disorder you may have.)
4. If Your Sleep Environment Is Uncomfortable…
Turn your bedroom into the perfect shared sleep environment for you and your partner.
There are lots of ways to make your bedroom more conducive to a great night’s sleep. Some of them involve redesigning the space while others come down to how you think about your room and sleep. Check out the highlights listed below:
- Don’t watch TV or your computer, or use electronic devices in bed. This keeps your mind busy, and the blue light from electronics can disrupt your sleep patterns so you wake up during the night.
- Face your bed away from the door. The prospect of the door opening and closing can raise your stress, especially if your partner has a different sleep schedule.
- Dim the lights. Dim, warm-toned lights can help you transition from daytime to sleepy time in a natural, relaxing way.
- Adjust the temperature. Many sleep experts suggest a nighttime temperature in the 60s so that you don’t overheat. A bedroom fan is a popular option.
- Adjust your mattress. Your partner might be sleeping soundly while you toss and turn, because the mattress is comfortable for them but not quite right for you. Choose an adjustable mattress designed for couples, like the memory foam isense Refresh mattress.
- Invest in quality linens. At the end of the day, comfort is key. This is a good splurge item. If you suffer from restless legs syndrome, for example, then you can experience quite a lot of discomfort and pain in the muscles in your legs. Comfort is an important factor in dealing with such a condition.
- Minimize noise. White noise machines or some quiet music are great for neutralizing distracting sounds so you can fall back to sleep—even if your partner is snoring or breathing heavily as they've been smoking throughout the day.
5. If You’ve Consumed Alcohol Too Close to Bedtime…
Swap your nightcap for herbal tea or water.
Having a drink or two before turning in for the night might make you feel relaxed and sleepy at first. But, according to a survey of several sleep studies, that nightcap might be the cause of your late-night sleeplessness. When your body metabolizes alcohol and the sedative effects worn off, your body wakes up and it’s difficult to fall back to sleep. This is because alcohol interferes with your ability to move through sleep stages properly, limiting REM sleep, which is restorative and important for memory recall. If you’ve ever had so much to drink that you couldn’t remember your actions from the night before, you most definitely did not sleep soundly either.
We’re not saying you can’t enjoy a glass of wine with dinner or the occasional night out. Just drink in moderation, be aware of the amount you drink, and try to give alcohol time to metabolize before you go to sleep, which takes about 1-2 hours per regular-size drink. When you imbibe conscientiously, you can toast to a better night’s sleep.
It’s easy to get caught up in busy schedules and accept disrupted sleeping patterns as normal symptoms of adulthood. At isense, we believe you and your partner deserve to sleep soundly every night and we want to help you achieve that dream, literally. Now you know how to not wake up at night and you have the tools you need to make positive changes in your physical and mental wellbeing. Sleep tight!