Awakenings are an indication of how fragmented your sleep is and can be caused by any number of internal or external factors.
Generally speaking, if you regularly see awakenings per hour values of more than 0.68, consider the following.
Is your room pitch black while sleeping? Basic blinds aren’t enough, and even a dim glow from an outside street light is enough to stimulate awakening. Try black out blinds, tinfoil or a light blocking eye mask.
Is your room quiet, or is it prone to noise from housemates, garbage trucks or school bells? Try earplugs to dampen outside noise and a fan for white noise.
If you wake up because your room is too hot, run a fan, turn down the heat, or get a lighter blanket. If you wake up cold, turn up the thermostat or layer on another blanket.
Is your bed comfortable? If too soft, it can cause discomfort and spur an awakening. If your bed isn’t supportive or more than 10 years old, consider getting a new mattress. Many mattress companies have money back guarantees so you can try one out with little risk.
Does your sleeping partner snore or move around a lot in bed? If so, try sleeping apart for a few nights to see if that makes a difference.
Eating and drinking
Generally speaking, it’s wise to avoid eating or drinking anything within 3 hours of your bed time. While this could benefit your sleep in multiple ways, it may help prevent awakenings prompted by a full bladder.
Caffeine is a stimulant and can take several hours to leave your system. If you are drinking tea (even green tea!), coffee, energy beverages or other stimulants within 6 hours of going to bed, it could negatively influence your sleep.
Avoid alcohol within 3 hours of your bedtime. It can take 2-3 hours for your body to eliminate alcohol. And while it could help you fall asleep, it may cause you to wake up more during the night.
Are you waking up worried about stuff you need to get done? Try some meditative exercises before bed, and write down any important to-do's on paper before you turn out the lights.
When to speak to your doctor
- Are still waking up frequently despite trying all of the above?
- Do you snore excessively or sometimes wake up gasping for air (or is this behaviour witnessed by your partner)?
- Do you wake up with leg cramps or the need to move around?
If yes to any of these questions or you are feeling excessively fatigued, speak to a doctor or healthcare provider.