It can be hard enough to fall asleep at night in the first place (if you need some tips, check out this article), but what if you wake up in the middle of the night? Interrupting our sleep cycle can have disastrous effects on our energy levels, productivity, and mood the next day. Stress is often a big factor when it comes to waking up in the middle of the night. While it’s not always possible to control everything in our lives, here are a few tips to falling back asleep:
DON’T Check Your Phone
We hope this one's obvious, but in case you forgot, avoid checking your devices! We know that the blue light emitted from our phones can make it more difficult to fall asleep since it suppresses our body’s melatonin production which helps regulate our sleep cycles.
But checking your phone can also cause unnecessary stimulation or stress if you’re checking the news, emails, or social media.
If you’ve been up for 20 minutes or longer, try getting out of bed and going to a different room. Moving around and doing something relaxing for a few minutes may help ease your mind and help you fall asleep when you get back to bed.
Don’t Look at the Clock
It can be tempting to peek at the time, but resist the urge! Checking the clock and watching time pass can set off anxiety and a “worry cycle” which keeps your brain more alert, thus stressing you out.
Write Down Your Worries
If you find yourself waking up due to stress at work or in life, try writing down all the points that you’re stressed about on a piece of paper (remember, no phones!) so you can let it go and don’t need to ruminate over it. Be sure to keep the lights dim, or use a night light when writing your notes down because turning on the lights can disrupt your body clock.
Meditating or Breathing Exercises
Many people use meditation and breathing exercises to slow down, to relax, and to fall asleep. If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, these practices can help calm your mind and get you back to sleep.
A simple breathing exercise to try is the 4-7-8 breathing technique. The goal of this exercise is to slow down your breathing which also slows down your heart and allows the body to relax.
- Inhale through your nose for 4 counts
- Hold your breath for 7 counts
- Exhale through your mouth for 8 counts
- Repeat 3 more times for a total of 4 breath cycles