A good night’s sleep goes a long way towards good health. It helps with cognitive function, and keeps our immune system and stress under control. Although most people can fall asleep at some point, staying fast asleep often remains a challenge.

One third of adults say they wake up at night at least three times a week. This phenomenon is called “Wakefulness After Sleep Onset” or WASO.

Sleep expert Maryanne Taylor who founded Sleep Works sleep consultancy said it can be frustrating waking up at night for no reason. 

Restful, lasting sleep

“Many factors we’re not even aware of can cause night-waking. Living in a fast-paced, ever-connected world can lead to mental overstimulation making it difficult for our brain to dial-down and for us to relax enough to facilitate restful, lasting sleep.” 

Taylor said that melatonin helps us fall asleep and stay asleep but unfortunately the body’s circadian rhythm sometimes becomes disrupted without us realising it. 

This is often due to bed times that are irregular and exposure to blue light from electronic devices. Negative sleep association, where we’re worried or anxious about going to bed or falling asleep, can also cause sleep disruption. 

Taylor advocates going to bed when you’re sleepy not just because it’s time to go to bed. She also says if you work from home define a clear point of when the working day ends so you can start to unwind. 

Waking at night

A certain degree of night waking is normal. “Sleep isn’t an exact science and we’re not robots. Periods of increased stress, worry and anxiety can cause sleep to vary significantly from person to person, taking into account factors such as age, genetics, lifestyle and our overall health,” she says. 

Taylor also recommends the following: 

  1. Keep the room cool. 18 degrees may seem to chilly but our body temperature fluctuates throughout the night so it’s better to lean towards cold. 
  2. Manage racing thoughts
  3. Try to keep stress at bay
  4. Limit fluids in the late evening to keep you from running to the bathroom all the time
  5. Exercise regularly so you’re tired enough to go to sleep

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