How to Fall Back Asleep in the Night

Waking up in the middle of the night and struggling to fall back to sleep isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time. Time spent tossing and turning could even interfere with your ability to function the following day.

Understanding the tips and tricks of falling back asleep and creating a solid sleeping routine are great defenses for battling a restless night. Note that you and your doctor will need to uncover the underlying cause if you repeatedly suffer from sleep issues.

How to fall back to sleep

Falling back to sleep isn’t as simple as just counting sheep. You’ll want to eliminate any bright lights or disruptive sounds in your space. LED lights and natural light from windows can make it more difficult to fall back asleep, so unplug unnecessary electronics and invest in some thick curtains for the bedroom. Avoid watching tv or scrolling on your phone since the blue light emitting from these devices can suppress melatonin production.

A full-body scan to relax your muscles is another helpful technique. Start by closing your eyes and slowing your breath. Begin at the top of your body and work your way down. Pause on each area of the body and imagine relaxing every muscle group.

Try getting up and moving if you haven’t fallen asleep after 20 minutes. A relaxing activity, like reading or working on a puzzle in a new room, is helpful for unwinding before returning to bed.

Breathing exercises like the 4-7-8 technique can be especially beneficial for sleeping. Begin by closing your mouth and inhaling through your nose while counting to four. You will then hold your breath for a count of seven before exhaling through the mouth while making a “whoosh” sound for the count of eight. Try repeating the process three times for the best results.

The 4-7-8 technique helps activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for digestion and resting. The breathing practice also promotes better sleep by reducing sympathetic activity.

How to achieve quality rest

You can best avoid a restless night by improving your overall sleep health, starting with a consistent sleep schedule. Try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, including weekends.

Staying away from heavy meals for at least a couple of hours before you go to bed is another must. You should also steer clear of caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol. Regular exercise can also promote better rest but try to avoid working out too close to bedtime.

Managing your stress levels is another essential factor. Keep a journal on your bedside table and write down some thoughts before going to sleep. This practice will help you process your feelings so they don’t keep circulating in your mind as you try to get some shut-eye.

Underlying sleep conditions

For persistent sleep problems, set up a visit with your doctor, as you may have an underlying health condition. Insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders that happens when you cannot fall or stay asleep. The condition leads to excessive daytime exhaustion, making it difficult to function. Your doctor may need to rule out other possible causes like medication side effects, substance misuse, or mental health conditions like depression.

Sleep apnea is another common disorder that a medical professional must diagnose. Excessive snoring is usually the first signal that someone might suffer from sleep apnea. The condition causes a person to periodically gasp or snort, repeatedly disrupting sleep. This interruption of regular breathing is a serious health concern that requires immediate attention and treatment.

Your doctor will help you uncover any underlying sleep conditions. To learn more, visit pardeehospital.org.

Thomas Hooker

Thomas Hooker, DO

Board-Certified Sleep Medicine Physician and Pulmonologist
Carolina Lung and Sleep at Pardee

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