Falling asleep is often already a problem for me, but sleeping the whole night through is a whole other issue all its own. Waking up in the middle of the night is pretty much the worst thing ever, especially if it's something that happens every single night when you're just trying to get some restful shut-eye. It's as if every passing hour presents another opportunity to look at the clock and remind yourself just how little sleep you're getting and how awful you're going to feel come sunrise.
Sleep struggles are far from uncommon, with up to 68 percent of American adults saying they generally have difficulties with sleeping at least one night a week, and 27 percent saying they have trouble falling or staying asleep most nights.
A good night's sleep is, of course, one of the most important parts of keeping yourself healthy, capable, cognitively on point, and, TBH, in a relatively good mood. So it's worth figuring out what can make your sleep not only less difficult, but actually restorative and enjoyable.
Here are a few potential culprits that may be to blame for your sleepless nights, and, rest assured, where there's a will, there's a way — to get to sleep!
Yes, there is such a thing as too much water — that is, when it's too much water too close to bedtime.
According to the Journal of Urology, up to 44 percent of women between the ages of 20 and 40 wake up during the night to go pee. Dang, that's a lot of us.
Getting up to pee in the middle of the night can be a real disruption, especially if it happens frequently or more than once. Try to stay away from diuretics like caffeine during the latter half of the day, and watch how much you're drinking in general when it's close to bedtime.
Chances are you probably don't even think about the details that can potentially make your room less than ideal for a whole night of sleep. You could have shades that allow light from the street to peek through whenever a car drives by, you might have a noisy upstairs neighbor, or maybe you leave your TV on throughout the night. All of these things can make it more difficult to fall asleep, but it's even harder to stay asleep if there's always some sort of intermittent noise or activity happening around you.
As Dr. James Findley, clinical director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the University of Pennsylvania, told Huffington Post that keeping an "optimal sleeping environment" where your bedroom is basically like a cave is a really important part of helping you stay asleep, especially during lighter parts of your sleep cycle.
So, think about investing in a good-quality sleep mask, some blackout curtains if you have problems with outside light, and ear plugs for noise. And definitely make sure all your screens are off when it's time to go to bed.
Are you eating a heavy meal before bed? Capping off the night with a little espresso, like they do in Spain? Or maybe you're watching hours of Netflix just before you turn out the light? These could all be reasons why you're waking up in the middle of the night and having trouble falling back into a deep enough sleep.
Try to cultivate a bedtime routine that is all about self-care and unwinding. Leave your screens about an hour before bed, and instead turn on some calming instrumental music and meditate for a bit. If you have to shower before going to sleep, use a few essential oils to help clear your mind so you can melt into a state of total and utter relaxation.
Sure, while that glass or three of the good stuff might technically help you fall asleep faster, studies show that booze disrupts your sleep patterns and your ability to fall into a deep REM sleep (not to mention it definitely adds to that whole peeing-in-the-middle-of-the-night problem we talked about before). Part of this is also because alcohol gets metabolized into sugar and causes spikes in your blood sugar, which will definitely keep you awake longer than you'd like.
Like your other pre-bedtime liquids, cut yourself off a couple hours before going to sleep to ensure a snooze-filled night the whole way through.
Say you're going to sleep, and you have a really early flight you have to wake up for the next morning. Have you ever had the experience of being so scared you'll miss the flight that you just wake up every single hour? Or maybe you've been upset about a breakup lately, and those lingering emotions are invading your sleep time, too.
Emotions of any kind can definitely play a role in your quality of sleep, and being under stress can actually cause something called "hyperarousal" which, according to the National Sleep Foundation, can upset the balance between sleep and wakefulness.
If you're really anxious about something when you're laying down in bed, it's much harder for your body to relax itself into a sound slumber. Try listening to a guided meditation, talking to a close friend an hour or two before bed, or even making sure you exercise that day to get out some of those extra jitters.
Whether it's a big meal that takes too much energy to digest, something sweet that spikes your blood sugar, or a piece of chocolate that has both sugar and caffeine, definitely watch what you're consuming before bed.
Pleasant dreams, everyone!