Whether it’s the stress of work and kids that keeps you awake at night or just plain restlessness, it’s normal to experience trouble sleeping from time to time. Dr. Ari Laliotis, an internal medicine doctor with Sharp Rees-Stealy, provides tips on how to get back to sleep after waking up during the night.
If you cannot fall back asleep after 15 minutes:
- Get out of bed. Do something relaxing, such as reading a book, and then return to bed when you feel sleepy. You may need to repeat this more than once until you can fall asleep quickly.
- Avoid screens. Refrain from using a tablet, phone or watching television while you’re getting ready to lie back down.
- Eliminate distractions. Make sure the room is cool, dark and quiet. You may want to close the bedroom door or window and unplug electronics that give off light.
A good night’s sleep is vital for mental and physical performance, and it can help you avoid the dreaded afternoon slump when your morning coffee wears off. According to Dr. Laliotis, “Long-term benefits of restful sleep include reducing your risk of depression, anxiety and even diabetes.”
Dr. Laliotis encourages patients to practice the following sleep habits:
- Set a regular schedule. Lie down at the same time every night and wake up seven to eight hours later — even on weekends.
- Avoid lying in bed awake. If you're unable to fall asleep (or fall back asleep) within 15 minutes, get out of bed and do something relaxing until you are ready to try again.
- The bed is for sleep only. No TV, books, phones, tablets or computers while lying down. Keep the bedroom cool, dark and quiet.
- Avoid activities that can affect quality of sleep. No caffeine, strenuous exercise or excessive alcohol in the evening right before bedtime.
- No napping. Avoid napping or trying to catch up on sleep, as it can disrupt your regular sleeping pattern.
- Stick with it. It can take several weeks of good sleep habits to correct years of poor patterns.
Establishing healthy sleep habits may help reduce your tendency to wake up during the night. Speak with your doctor if you experience trouble sleeping for two or more consecutive weeks.