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How to stay asleep all night: unlocking the secrets of a full night's sleep

September 27, 2023
5 minutes
Lifestyle Health & Wellness
Sleep wellness strategies

The human body's designed to work hard, but it’s also designed to restore and rest during sleep. As you work on improving your health and wellness, don’t neglect the value of sleep. Yet it’s not just getting enough sleep that matters; it’s also getting enough quality sleep. If you're suffering from frequent nighttime awakening, then you're not getting good sleep. Here’s a closer look at how to stay asleep all night so you can get better quality sleep.

Quality sleep is a key component of health and wellness

The average adult needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Yet even if you’re in bed for all of those recommended hours, constant waking up during the night means you aren't getting the true rest you need, and your health and wellness could be suffering. Here’s a closer look at how to stop nighttime waking for a better night's sleep.

Common reasons you’re waking up during the night

senior woman lying in bed cannot sleep from insomnia

If you’re noticing a problem with waking up during the night, finding the underlying cause is important. There are multiple reasons why this might happen. These include:

  • Physical problems, like illness or pain
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Sleep disorders
  • Medications or foods, such as caffeine
  • Problems with the sleep environment
  • Age

With so many potential causes, you might feel frustrated at trying to fix the issue. Thankfully, once you do find your underlying cause, there are many options to help you get better sleep.

Understanding the sleep cycle

Your body moves through four stages when you sleep, according to the Sleep Foundation, and restorative sleep requires you to go through all four multiple times a night. If any stage is interrupted, you won’t feel rested. Here's a closer look at each stage.

Stage 1

Stage one is the stage when you first fall asleep. It’s short, lasting between one and seven minutes. During this stage, your brain and body activities start to slow down, but you wake up easily.

Stage 2

If nothing interrupts you during stage 1, you’ll quickly head into stage 2. Here, your body temperature drops, and your muscles relax. Your overall brain activity slows, and you’re harder to wake up. This stage lasts about 10 to 25 minutes during your first sleep cycle and can get longer as the night goes on.

Stage 3

Stage 3 is your deep sleep. Here, your body relaxes further, and you’re hard to wake up. This stage creates delta waves, a slow brain wave that medical professionals can identify on scans. Many medical experts believe this is where your body recovers and grows, making it a highly restorative stage. This stage lasts between 20 and 40 minutes.

Stage 4

Stage 4 is called REM sleep, and this stage is when you dream. The Sleep Foundation indicates many believe this to be the stage that impacts memory, learning, and creativity. You’ll enter REM sleep after around 90 minutes of sleep, and your brain will start to wake up. The length of time you spend in REM sleep changes through the night as you cycle through the four stages, ranging from a few minutes to over an hour. About a quarter of an average night of sleep is taken up by REM sleep.

Getting woken up at any part of this process could impact your emotional and physical health. Each stage is vital to feeling rested and restored, but deep and REM sleep may be the most important. Constant waking up during the night hurts these stages, leaving you feeling groggy and tired.

Causes of nighttime awakenings

Are you wondering how to improve sleep quality? First, understand the reasons why you're waking up at night, which may include these:

Stress and anxiety

One of the most common reasons people struggle to get a good night’s sleep is due to stress and anxiety, according to WebMD. If you’re struggling with your mental health, your sleep often stays in the lighter stages, leaving you without the healing deep and REM sleep stages.

Poor sleep habits

If you’re struggling with poor sleep habits, your body may struggle to fall and stay asleep. For instance, if you consume caffeine close to bedtime, it may prevent you from staying asleep. Similarly, the blue light from electronics can keep your brain in a more alert stage. Having an erratic sleep schedule can also be problematic.

Problems in the sleep environment

If you have a pet that jumps on you at night or a neighbor whose porch light shines in your window, your sleep may suffer. Other problems in the sleep environment may include an uncomfortable mattress or the wrong temperature.

Health concerns or medication

Finally, you may suffer from a health condition that impacts your sleep, including sleep disorders like sleep apnea. Some medications can also impact sleep. If you feel that you’re not getting enough sleep, consider having a medical checkup to rule out any of these physical concerns.

Tips to stay asleep all night

Are you ready to get a better night’s sleep? Consider these strategies:

Create a sleep-friendly environment

Set up your sleep environment so it’s sleep-friendly. Tools like a fan or white noise machine, room-darkening blinds, and a cooling mattress can all help set the stage for a good night’s sleep. In addition, exposing yourself to natural light can trigger your body’s natural melatonin production cycle, making you feel sleepier when it’s time to go to bed.

Manage stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety can leave you with an overabundance of cortisol and adrenaline, and these hormones impact sleep. Learn ways to reduce adrenaline naturally and practice techniques such as meditation and journaling to lower other types of stress and anxiety.

Establish a consistent sleep routine

Keeping your sleep habits on a good, solid routine will help your body and brain learn when to fall asleep. Going to bed and getting up around the same time each day will help you sleep better. Research has found that “catching up on sleep” by sleeping in on the weekends is a fallacy. You need consistent, daily sleep to feel rested. After you’ve established a routine bedtime and wake-up time that works for your body, consider adding a routine to your bedtime that helps your brain wind down. Figure out what helps you relax, such as a warm bath or some time reading, and do those activities before you go to bed.

Treat sleep disorders

If your doctor discovers a sleep disorder, then treat the disorder. Restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea are two of the most common, but there can be others. Work with your doctor to get these conditions under control.

Tackle diet and lifestyle factors

Several lifestyle factors can impact your ability to sleep. Exercise can help you sleep, but it works best if early in the day, rather than before bedtime, when adrenaline will impact your sleep. Some foods can help with your sleep as well, including low-fat cottage cheese, bananas, cherries, and salmon.

Taking control of your health can have a positive impact on your sleep routine and overall quality of sleep. Evidation can be a tool to help. Download the app today, and start tracking your health to improve your overall wellbeing.

Sleep wellness strategies
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