Illustration for article titled How To Fall Asleep After Waking UpPhoto: Tero Vesalainen (Shutterstock)

Sleeping is not easy for many people. Approximately 70 million Americans suffer from some type of sleep disorder. according to the Cleveland Clinic, and around 100 million people in the US don’t typically get enough sleep. The problem has become even more pronounced during the pandemic.

We’re a tired nation, but even if you don’t have a diagnosable sleep disorder, you are no doubt familiar with the experience of waking up in the middle of the night and having trouble getting back to sleep. This is not a full blown insomnia, but a condition that doctors call “insomnia” that is definitely associated with a special kind of misery.

There are several strategies you can try when your nights are restless and sleep is scarce. Hopefully one of them – or a combination of some – will make sleeping back an easier and hassle-free endeavor.

Illustration for article titled How To Fall Asleep After Waking Up

Don’t fixate on time

Chances are you woke up in the middle of the night because of You are worried about something. Don’t add to your worries by watching the clock shorten your chances of getting some rest the next day. That will only add to the mental strain of the struggle for rest.

Instead, avoid looking at your phone’s time (you want to ignore your phone for several reasons, but more on that later). If you have an alarm clock, turn it over so you can’t see the time. What you need is rest, and if you worry about what time it is, you can’t find it.

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Limit blue light exposure and screen time before bed

While it’s nice to relax with a little casual Instagram swipe before bed, the blue light emitted by your phone can create a dilemma for the production of melatonin, the hormone largely used in controlling the sleep / wake cycle of the human body is responsible.

How Harvard Medical School explains::

While light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin, blue light in the night it does this more strongly. Harvard researchers and their colleagues conducted an experiment comparing the effects of 6.5 hours of exposure to blue light with exposure to green light of comparable brightness. The blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as the green light and shifted the circadian rhythm by twice (3 hours versus 1.5 hours).

To do this, try putting your phone down for the night an hour before going to sleep – or at least one Adjust settings to dim the screen and limit blue light emissions in the hours before bed. This way, your brain has a chance to produce the melatonin it needs to fall asleep naturally. While we’re tied to our devices, it’s important that you put your phone or tablet away before you go to bed. If you don’t, you will likely be put at a disadvantage if you fall asleep – and stay.

Illustration for article titled How To Fall Asleep After Waking Up

Relax your muscles and your mind

Obviously, this is the prevailing puzzle in the hunt for elusive sleep: you know you need to relax, but the hassle of waking up in the middle of the night is inherently exciting. Despite all the adversities, you have to relax in order to drift away again.

To attempt Breathing exercises, counting backwards or doing a muscle relaxation routine, among other things. Per Johns Hopkins UniversityA good option is “progressive muscle relaxation,” as described below:

Work your way through the different muscle groups in your body (e.g. arms, legs, torso, face), contracting the muscles in each group to about three-quarters strength for about five seconds before releasing the tension all at once to solve. Skip any muscles that are sore and try to isolate the muscles while contracting them instead of tensing your pecs as you focus on your arms, for example. Inhale slowly and deeply between the muscle groups.

Get up and move to another room, then try to sleep again

Many experts advocate a 20-minute rule: after you’ve been lying aimlessly in bed for 20 minutes, get up, move to another place in your house, and do something calming.

You can read a book, do a crossword puzzle, leaf through a magazine, listen to an audiobook or podcast – anything that could make you tired again. Some experts suggest deliberately choosing an activity that you find boring, as you are more likely to fall into a nap when bored rather than stimulated.

The key, however, is to go to another room in the house to do this – staying in bed, “will cause your brain and body to associate your bed with wakefulness rather than sleep,” according to Luis F. Buenaver , Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Johns Hopkins.

Do not drink alcohol before bed

Alcohol consumption can also negatively affect your chances of getting a good night’s sleep. Yes, alcohol is a depressant that slows brain activity and makes you feel slow and heavy, but it can have the opposite effect if you actually fell asleep.

When neurologist Bhanu Kolla from the Mayo Clinic told CNN::

When alcohol is metabolized, it forms acetaldehyde that is stimulating. So if you drink too much alcohol just before bed, it will turn into aldehyde in about four hours, which can disrupt sleep and wake you up.

Trying some of these alone or in conjunction with one other as a measure may not immediately resolve your nighttime wakefulness. However, over time, you can create a routine that will reliably get you back to sleep before the sun comes up.