Put the phone away
When you wake up in the middle of the night, resist the urge to check email or hop on Facebook, as the blue light emitted by electronics interferes with your sleep, according to Harvard research. If you find it impossible to do without screen time, either before bed or at 3 a.m., try this trick from Nadine Hemens, a middle-school assistant principal. “Middle of the night insomnia is a big one for me, and I used to make it way worse by checking email. Now, I simply tell myself that whatever it is, it can wait, and I listen to a meditation app on my phone, instead. I usually fall back asleep without even realizing it,” she says. If your computer, iPad, or phone is a bedtime staple you can’t do without, make sure to at least dim the screen down at night. This may help you stay asleep until morning. Try this surprising way to trick yourself into falling asleep.
Transform your bedroom into a quiet, dark sanctuary
“Middle of the night insomnia is often caused by emotional distress, anxiety, or a busy mind. Throughout the night, we go into sleep cycles. As we go into each cycle, we wake up a little, but typically don’t remember, and fall back asleep. If you are stressed out, those wake-ups can become a full awakening, and your mind gets very busy,” explains Rachel Ross, a certified sleep consultant with the Family Sleep Institute. If you’re frequently waking up in the middle of the night, Ross recommends making your bedroom soothing and dark. “Even if you’re a shift worker, keep it quiet, and comfortable. You have to work with what you have. If you live in a noisy city, and can’t sleep through it, white noise is helpful. A fan works just fine, or you can try a white noise machine that includes nature sounds. You can also try earplugs, and an eye mask, if there is too much ambient light in the middle of the night,” she adds. Here’s what professional organizers do every night before bed.
One, two, three, sleep! Not
If waking up in the middle of the night feels a lot like your brain has a mind of its own, you’re right. According to the National Sleep Foundation, insomnia is the inability of the brain to stop being awake. Wondering how to fall back asleep? Don’t just lie there, do something soothing, suggests Ross. “Try deep breathing, relaxation exercises, or soothing music. If you have a snoring partner, place a white noise machine on your side of the bed. And never, ever, have an alarm clock facing you while you’re trying to sleep,” she says. If it’s really hard to get your brain to rest, go to a chair, and read, but do not turn on all the lights. And absolutely, do not start an activity, that will wake you up even more, like watching the news on TV, she says. Here’s what sleep doctors do to get a better nights sleep.