It’s 4AM – How Can I Get Back to Sleep?

It’s normal. Everyone wakes up in the middle of the night, sometimes.

We might hear a noise, have to use the bathroom, or fall prey to myriad other reasons that cause us to rouse from slumber.

Some nights I just lay there, hoping that I’ll fall back asleep as to not become a zombie in the morning. Other times I grab my phone, which is one of the worst things I can do (more on that below). Occasionally, I fall back to sleep right away.

Is returning to sleep quickly within our control? And if so, what can we do to get the nighttime rest we so sorely need? There are definite do’s and don’ts – here’s what sleep specialists advise:

Set the Stage

It’s important to set yourself up for success beginning earlier in the day. Getting enough exercise and activity is important for a good night’s rest. Just be sure not to get too much stimulation too late at night, which can make it hard to fall asleep. Best to get your workout in earlier in the day, if possible.

To set the mood for a peaceful night, try taking a hot bath or reading a book before bedtime. These activities can help you ease into a relaxing state of mind.

Keep your room as dark as possible, and try to neutralize loud noises. If the place which you live is prone to ambient sounds throughout the night, white noise, either from a machine or an app, could help drown them out and create a calming environment. Pull those shades down tightly, or try an eye mask if you don’t have window coverings.

What to do if you Should Awaken

If you have to use the bathroom, do so then return to bed immediately. A nightlight in the bathroom can help keep you from having to turn on brighter lights, which can trigger stimulation.

Don’t reach for your phone, or turn on the TV. According to the Sleep Foundation, blue light from electronics suppresses the production of melatonin, which can disrupt your natural sleep cycle.

Try to put yourself in a state of calm and relaxation. Breathing techniques can help, as can picturing yourself in a relaxing environment.

Don’t check the time. This can cause you to become anxious about falling back to sleep, or how much time there is before your alarm goes off.

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