Your plan for going to sleep often begins when you wake up in the morning. At that moment you probably set a time for getting back into bed later that night. It’s your sleep goal. It might also be the only reason you get out of bed; “I’ll be back!” Throughout the day, you also make plans for returning to sleep. You have caffeine cut off time. You eat a healthy meal at dinner. You get in some early exercise.
Yet, despite all that effort, you are still repeatedly waking up in the middle of the night. What is going on?
What Is Normal
When you fall asleep at 11 p.m. with a plan to wake up at 6 a.m. you’re not going to get a solid seven hours of sleep. That is because our nights are always punctuated with a brief wake-up. Often those wake-ups don’t entirely wake us up. They are a disruption of the sleep cycle that could be a random street noise or a sense that you’re too cold or too hot. Usually, you just roll back over and drift to sleep. There might be some other physical conditions like sleep apnea or excessive night-time trips to the bathroom that should be discuss with your doctor.
Overall, you could be waking up between five and seven times throughout the average night. The quality of your sleep can be determined in the morning. If you feel groggy a half-hour after waking up, then you might have some sleep issues that need looking into.
What You Take In
To prepare for a stronger sleep cycle, you do have to consider what you take in. Your caffeine cut off should probably be between 2 to 3 in the afternoon. Forget a cup of coffee for dinner! You also want to make sure you’re drinking water throughout the day. Going to bed a little dehydrated can cause a big disruption in your sleep cycle.
If you have a snack after dinner, then you should find something that would be “pro-sleep.” That would be something that has a small number of complex carbs and protein like wholegrain cereal with milk or peanut butter toast.
Where Your Sleep
We should all be sleeping in our comfy beds but you have to be on the look out for what you’re using your bedroom for beyond sleep. If this has become where you do remote work or most of your TV viewing, then you’re “training” your body to be awake in there.
It is also important to avoid looking at the clock when you wake up. That will just get your brain spinning with the idea that you’re “cooked” for the night and will never get back to sleep.
Finally, it helps to adjust your mindset for sleep. Yes, you want that good seven to eight hours but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t always find it. When we lay down to go to sleep, it is often the first time we’re alone with our thoughts. That is a lot of processing. It might help to write out a list of all the things that you want to accomplish the following day. That locks you down to a schedule and you won’t have to think about it when you try to get to sleep. Above all, relax. Sleep will come.