Are you tired of waking up in the middle of the night?
Broken sleep or lack of good-quality sleep is a common cause of physical and emotional stress. This means that waking up in the middle of the night is not only irritating but also bad for your health. In fact, studies show that regular “bad sleep” can put the body at risk of various medical conditions and even take a toll on your life expectancy. But why do you keep waking up and what should you do about it?
Let’s take a look at what actually happens when you wake up during the night.
Why do You Wake Up in the Middle of the Night?
Broken Sleep and waking up in the middle of the night is something that happens to everyone from time to time. However, that’s not to say it should happen often or that you should forget about this cause of untold stress because it usually happens for a reason.
Physical Pain or Discomfort – Waking up in the middle of the night may be the result of a physical pain and possibly due to a condition such as asthma, bronchitis or arthritis. Digestive problems can also cause discomfort, while drinking too much fluids during the day will inevitably lead to an early-morning need to visit the bathroom.
Psychological Reasons – Stress, anxiety and depression can make your sleep lighter which essentially prevents you from reaching the restorative state of sleeping – REM. Various psychological issues such as schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder can have this same affect and cause one to wake up in the middle of the night.
Your Sleep Environment – You can have trouble with sleeping when the light or temperature in a particular room is too high/low. Likewise, if the area is noisey, you might need to invest in ear plugs but either way, your sleep environment matters!
Intake of Caffeine or Alcohol – Drinking alcohol or caffeine, especially before bed, can really spoil a good nights’ sleep. According to experts, caffeine stays active in the brain for up to 12 hours and takes between 24 hours and 36 hours to leave entirely!
And maybe there’s a more serious reason for you waking up during the night?
Sleep disorders are more common than you might think.
Sleep Disorders that Might Cause You to Wake During the Night.
Sleep disorders are characterized by recurring sleep conditions that have a noticeable impact on the quality of your life. Here’s a few statistics from the Sleep Foundation to provide a little more context on the commonality of sleep disorders:
Note – Consult your GP in order to determine if you have a sleep disorder.
In the case of the above, insomnia is a sleep disorder that can severely disrupt your sleep and leave you feeling just as tired as when you went to bed. Meanwhile, sleep apnea is when the brain momentarily forgets to tell your muscles to breathe and you stop breathing for a moment. These are two of the most common sleeping disorders that can cause you to wake up during the night and they both depend on one thing.
A Note About “Breathing” While You Sleep.
Have you heard about Buteyko? This rather controversial breath-control programme was founded in the Soviet Union in the 1940s. Konstantin Buteyko, an engineer/medic, created this method on a basis that it was possible for people to improve health by controlling their breathing. It’s a controversial topic because many adherents tape their mouths in order to encourage breathing through the nose while they sleep. .This is one part of the Buteyko breathing programme and it is advised to do the programme of exercises before taping.
Whether you agree or disagree with these drastic measures, many studies support the theory behind the Buteyko concept and the idea that “breathing” while you sleep is the path to a night of uninterrupted sleep. Because when you fall asleep, your brain shifts into a passive state and cause your lungs to adapt and change the rate of ventilation. This is the first of many ventilation cycles that take place when you sleep and this rate becomes more erratic as you fall deeper into rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. With this in mind, even without a sleep disorder, it’s important to pay attention to “breathing” while you sleep and take steps to nurture a healthy set of lungs.
Now, let me finish with some advice from the experts:
3 Pieces of Advice to Help You Sleep through the Night.
1. Improve Your Breathing through Exercise and a Healthy Diet
While you may not want to pursue the Buteyko technique, it’s possible to use keep your lungs healthy during the day. A healthy diet and regular exercise is the key to healthy lungs and smoking cigarettes is a habit that simply must be kicked! As with the importance of sleep itself, breathing while you sleep seems to be a forgotten aspect of sleeping that can go some way to preventing you from waking up during the night.
2. Create a Sleep Schedule and Stick to It
Most people spend one third of their life asleep but just as many seem to discount the importance of good-quality sleep. In a book called “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker, the sleep expert highlights this point in an attempt to encourage readers to consider how good-quality sleep can have a positive impact on every other area of our lives. Walker suggests keeping a sleep schedule that will allow for at least 7/8 hours sleep per day and sticking with this schedule as though your health depends on it!
3. Give Your Need to Sleep the Respect it Deserves
Arianna Huffington is one of the biggest advocates for sleep in recent times. In her latest book, The Sleep Revolution, the author advises people to seek help from medical professionals and consider therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy. Arianna also talks about acupuncture, yoga and avoiding meals before bedtime. However, if we read between the lines, it’s easy to see that we often ignore the knock-on effects of good quality sleep and maybe it’s time to give our need to sleep the time and respect it truly deserves!
Sleep is not just something we do or something that happens: it’s a vital function that keeps the body fit and healthy. Good quality sleep is necessary to improve mood levels. Increase energy and address some of the health issues I mentioned above.
And what about waking up during the night?
It doesn’t need to happen and maybe it’s time to make a few changes.
Martha Downey De Buitlier is a fully accredited Buteyko Practitioner. Her therapy and breathing exercise sessions have helped many overcome sleeping disorders by focusing on breathing techniques. Please get in touch with Martha to arrange an appointment so you can begin a happy and healthier lifestyle and a good nights sleep!