4 Solutions: Middle-of-the-Night Waking
Getting a good night’s sleep is very important for maintaining optimum health. But many people have trouble staying asleep. 4 experts chime in with solutions to help you catch those missing zee’s.
Set the Mood
When you gradually fall asleep (rather than crashing into bed), noises, light and other disturbances won’t wake you as easily. Dim the lights an hour before bed and use a HEPA filter to improve air quality. Blue-blocking light bulbs encourage production of the sleep hormone melatonin and may help. If you wake, give yourself a chance to fall back asleep before getting stressed. Don’t look at the clock.
Rubin Naiman, PhD, Director, Sleep Programs, Miraval Resort, Tucson, Arizona
Squeeze Out Your Awakenings
Figure out the cause: Are you stressed, sick, depressed, on meds? Try compressing your sleep: If you usually sleep from 11 to 7, stay up until midnight and wake up earlier for a few days to squeeze out awakenings. Gradually increase. If you still have trouble, see a doctor. Taken under their guidance, sleeping pills can help.
Check for Sleep Apnea
Many people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) don’t realize they’re waking up. With OSA, there’s less oxygen going to the brain, and it can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Losing weight helps, and treating sinus problems or allergies may prevent OSA. There are many effective medical techniques, so see a specialist if needed.
Make Some Diet Changes
If you’ve ruled out OSA, caffeine could be the culprit. Cut back for a month to see if the problem goes away. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may also make you wake up coughing or with heartburn; avoid eating a few hours before bed and raise the head of the bed. Ask your doc about taking a magnesium supplement to help you relax. Alcohol interferes with deep sleep. If you drink, do it with dinner, not right before bed.
Dwight Mckee, MD, Aptos, California