Why can’t I sleep? How to get back to sleep if you wake up in the night

18 June 2018, 12:36 | Updated: 18 June 2018, 15:21

Insomnia asset

By Naomi Berners

Struggling to stay asleep for the whole night can be draining in more ways than one for insomniacs and others struggling to nod off.

Insomnia is not an uncommon issue, with many struggling to fall asleep at night - but there are ways to beat it and get a good night's sleep.

Others may not find falling asleep the issue, but actually find it more impossible to remain in a slumber for the whole night.

If this sounds like a typical night for you, there are ways to help combat your early-hour insomnia.


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There are three stages of sleep - deep, REM and light, and it's down to when we experience each that can result in us waking up in for hours in the early morning.

Read more: Dad's very cheeky hack to get his daughter to sleep goes viral

Deep sleep tends to occur as soon as our head hits the pillow, and can last between 1-3 hours. Following this, we enter the REM (rapid eye movement) stage, in which we enter a lighter sleep. 

Typically, REM works in 90 minute cycles, which means you're more likely to wake up at the end of each cycle.


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Sleep expert Dr Neil Stanley reveals that these 'natural sleep rhythms' are to blame, and that during our lighter REM stage we can often find ourselves a lot more easily disturbed. 

It is also during this stage of sleep that the likes of a partner snoring, a phone vibrating, or a door slamming will launch us back into consciousness - and the struggle to return to sleep is at its most difficult.

Dr Stanley explained that lying in bed in a frustrated state will not help your quick return to the land of nod, and you should vacate the bed to distance yourself.

He told The Sun: "If you’re still awake after 20 minutes, get up and do something, like reading a book. 

"When you’re tired enough to sleep again, you will."


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The expert also reveals that sharing a bed can be one of the biggest disruptions to a good night sleep, followed closely by light coming through the window on bright mornings.

He also strongly advises resisting the temptation to spend too much time on electronic devices before bed - and especially avoid checking your phone if you find yourself awake in the night.

This is due to 'blue light' emitting from digital screens, which affects our brain's ability to switch off.


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Another key suggestion to aid a restful night sleep is reducing the amount of time you spend in your bedroom. 

This means avoiding long lay-ins in the morning or watching tv from your bed; the less time you spend in your bedroom for reasons other than sleep, the more your brain will associate the room with night time. 

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