How to Fall Back Asleep if You Wake Up

We’ve all been there. It’s 4 a.m., and we are suddenly wide awake from a good sleep. It’s a rude shock to be woken up in the middle of the night when you had gone to bed on time and managed to stay asleep for a while. It’s frustrating when you’re awake and staring at the ceiling when it’s still dark outside.


You’ll be surprised to learn that waking up a few times in the middle of the night isn’t unusual at all. On the contrary, it is normal to wake up because that’s when the sleep cycle is transitioning from deep to light. The problem arises when you cannot fall back asleep. If there’s anything more frustrating than waking up in the middle of the night, then it’s not being able to go back to sleep.


Being unable to go back to sleep after waking up in the middle of the night is one of the leading causes of fatigue among the urban population. But all isn’t lost because there’s a lot you can do to help yourself fall back asleep no matter when you wake up in the night.


Get used to it

When you wake up at an ungodly hour, your mind starts racing. Why did I wake up? Will I be able to go back to sleep? Will I remain tired the whole day? When thoughts like these run through your mind at 3 in the night, it prevents sleep from coming back. A period of wakefulness in between different cycles of sleep was perfectly normal with our ancestors. Because we tend to go to bed late now, it becomes a source or anxiety if we wake up. But getting used to it and accepting it as healthy and normal takes some of the anxiety away and helps you fall back asleep.


Stay away from the screens

What do you usually do when you can’t go back to sleep at night? You reach for your phone. But the blue light from your phone screen makes it harder for sleep to come back. Blue light is known to block the production of melatonin, even more than sunlight. From a blue night light to the blue glowing screen of a phone or laptop, they all prevent good sleep. Therefore, no matter when you wake up at night, do not reach for your electronic devices.


Focus on your breathing

This is the number one effective way to fall back asleep when you wake up in the middle of the night (and also to help you sleep or rest any time of the day). Staying focused on your breathing calms your nervous system and moves your attention away from stressful thoughts going through your mind. Simply lie in bed and focus on your abdomen moving up and down to the rhythm of your breathing. This easy exercise relieves the tension in your body and lulls you to sleep.


Do something boring

Excitement makes you stay awake, therefore, to put yourself back to sleep do something boring. Reading a boring book or listening to some boring podcast is known to help. You could also try listening to a guided sleep meditation that will gently lull you back to sleep by helping you focus on your breathing.


Don’t ignore the signs

The signs of sleep are subtle but don’t ignore them. When you feel sleepy again, don’t fight it. Heed to the cue and go back to sleep.

Going back to sleep after waking up in the middle of the night may not be all that hard if you know what to do. Go with the flow of your sleep cycle and let your body adjust itself.


What do you think?

Written by Sleep Sherpa

My name is Ben Trapskin. I created Sleep Sherpa to educate myself and others about the importance of sleep and how to get a better night’s rest. In my mid 30’s I went through a period where I was only getting a few hours of sleep a night. This took a major toll on my physical and psychological health. After getting the proper help from medical professionals, I was able to get adequate sleep and life changed for the better.

Since then I have been fascinated with the world of sleep and the difference quality sleep can make in your daily performance. Aside from writing about sleep, I had been a librarian for 13 years. In that capacity I worked to connect people with new ideas and information to better their own lives.
In addition, I have had more than my share of frustrating mattress shopping excursions. Over the course of 2 years we purchased 3 different mattresses and I knew of many others with the same story. My quest to find quality mattresses and reputable companies began and I would like to lead others to the best sleep products in order to save time and money.
While many other mattress review sites keep popping up across the Internet—many out to make a quick profit by exploiting the online mattress boom—I aim to stand out as a resource that offers true value to consumers in the market for a mattress. I do my best to give you a sense of how a mattress will feel but at the end of the day, these are my personal opinions and shouldn’t be taken as facts.
The majority of mattresses I am sent for review are queen size. According to a 2016 report by the Better Sleep Council, 47% of Americans sleep on a queen size mattress followed by king at 25%.


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