Picture this. It’s been a long week full of ups and downs and you’re totally dead.
Nothing would feel better than getting a full night of deep, restorative sleep… right?
Welp, it’s 3 a.m. and you’ve randomly sprung up from your slumber again and can’t fall back asleep.
So much for waking up nice and refreshed.
Before you throw in the towel and just accept these midnight wake ups as the universe telling you to finish that pint of Ben and Jerry’s while binge watching some Animal Kingdom — let’s get to the bottom of this.
You can absolutely still do those things, don’t get us wrong.
But if you’re ready to rejuvenate that sleep cycle, keep on reading and we’ll explain a thing or two.
Why it’s so common to wake up around 3 a.m.
Trust us when we say this: you’re not the only one.
Yep, thousands if not millions of people deal with this same problem night to night.
The reason for this common time of the night has to do with how sleep cycles work.
The main categories of sleep that you go through are Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, deep sleep and light sleep.
Typically when you sleep, REM sleep occurs during the beginning and end of your sleep in which you can experience vivid dreams.
Somewhere in the middle, is typically when you experience deep sleep.
And in between those you’ll go between being awake and experiencing light sleep.
Towards the latter part of your slumber is typically when you begin to go out of deep sleep and move towards REM sleep and light sleep.
In these sleep stages, you are more prone to external disturbances that can wake you up and take your sleep rhythm out of wack.
Let’s talk about some potential external disturbances that might be robbing you from your precious sleep.
Common external disturbances
When it comes to common external disturbances that could be waking you up, two typical ones are noise and/or light.
For noise, it’s pretty self-explanatory.
Any additional noises or sounds that occur in your room or from outside could definitely interrupt your sleep and cause you to wake up during the night.
On the other hand, if your room isn’t optimized to stay dark, light from outside could be causing your body to wake up sooner than you’d like.
Street lights, car lights, or any other types of lighting triggers your circadian rhythm to tell you it’s time to wake up.
One more common external disturbance is waking up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. This one can really put your sleep cycle in a funk.
Having to fully wake up to go to the bathroom causes your body to have to go through all the motions again to fall asleep which is very inefficient for quality sleep.
How to combat these common interruptions
Here are some perfect tactics to avoid these sleep mishaps.
Sound proofing your room can be as easy as making sure your door is closed in case there are any noises occurring in other parts of your house.
If it’s still an issue, investing in some ear plugs or ear muffs can be the best choice to keep things muted during sleeping hours.
The first thing you should do to keep your room dark is to get some blackout curtains. These curtains are made to keep out all light and also works to deaden noise coming from outside your window as well.
If you deal with light coming from inside your house, placing towels under your doorways can block out the light that comes from the space between the bottom of the door and the ground which lets in some light.
Combatting bathroom midnight bathroom trips
Avoid eating heavy meals and drinking excess amounts of liquid before bedtime.
It’s very hard fro your body to recover when it needs to digest large amounts of food throughout the night. This is also the most common culprit for taking bathroom trips in the middle of the night.
Try finishing meals 2-3 hours before bedtime and stopping liquid intake about 1-2 hours before bed.
This will surely improve your quality of sleep and reduce the number of toilet visits per night.
Additional sleep practices for easy slumber
While sleeping seems like it should be an easy thing, if you don’t prepare your body for it, your sleep quality will always fluctuate.
Our bodies love routine so it’s very important to make sure you create a sleep routine that helps you fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.
Here’s a list of some things to try:
- Sit in dark/dim lighting for 1-2hrs before bed.
- Do a light stretching routine to relax your body.
- Listen to soothing sounds to calm your mind.
- Include sleep inducing cereal to your dinner
Adding some (or all) of these things to your nighttime routine will surely boost your quality of sleep!
Why sleep quality is important
At the end of the day, sleep is something society tends to sweep under the rug as if it isn’t important.
Studies have shown that sleep is one of the most important factors to functioning optimally in day to day life. It’s also crucial to recover both mentally and physically.
If you sleep well, you will likely notice an instant improvement in mood and performance in your daily life.
This could easily mean good grades, a promotion, or some other form of success coming your way.
Done are the days of walking around like a brain-fogged zombie acting like everything’s okay. Take the time to care for yourself and give your sleep the attention it deserves!
- Patel, Aakash K. “Physiology, Sleep Stages.” StatPearls [Internet]., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 22 Apr. 2021, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526132/.
- Worley, Susan L. “The Extraordinary Importance of Sleep: The Detrimental Effects of Inadequate Sleep on Health and Public Safety Drive an Explosion of Sleep Research.” P & T : a Peer-Reviewed Journal for Formulary Management, MediMedia USA, Inc., Dec. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6281147/.