Most people have endured the frustration of waking in the middle of the night to toss and turn without being able to fall back asleep. One bad night of sleep can throw off the entire next day and create a pattern of sleepless nights. Routine insomnia might signal a problem, but if waking if the night is an occasional problem, some simple adjustments to your routine can make all the difference.
Watch What You Eat
What you eat at dinner, or even earlier in the day, can come back to haunt you hours later. Avoid fatty or spicy foods in the hours before bedtime. Fat takes longer for your body to digest than do carbohydrates. Try eating a carb-rich dinner such as pasta or a sandwich to prevent your stomach from churning all night. That being said, a bedtime snack can actually help you sleep, provided it's the right kind of snack. Opt for foods that include tryptophan, an amino acid that helps you sleep. Snack on cheese or turkey slices, yogurt or a handful of nuts and pumpkin seeds.
Drink in Moderation
Drinking any beverage before bed can lead to several bathroom breaks during the night. Beginning at dinner time, drink only enough to quench your thirst, and go the bathroom right before getting into bed. Avoiding caffeine for at least four hours before bed is common advice, but avoiding alcohol is just as important. It may be easier to fall asleep after you've been drinking, but alcohol disrupts your sleep cycle and can make you wake up during the night.
Improve Your Environment
If you wake up in the middle of the night for no discernible reason, think about how your body feels. If you're sweating or shivering, or if your arm is asleep or your neck is aching, some physical discomfort might be to blame. Consider investing in a new mattress and pillows, and layer several thin blankets on your bed so you can adjust your coverings based on the season. Keep your room very dark and cool. Sharing your bed with anyone other than your partner will disrupt your sleep too, so consider outlawing children and pets from climbing in with you.
Reset Your Clock
One bad night of sleep is all it takes to throw off your internal clock for days. Resist the urge to sleep in or nap after a night of restlessness, so you'll be ready to sleep that night. Use light to help reset your clock. When you get up for the day, go outside into the sun for a few minutes, or turn on all the lights in your house to signal your body that it's time to be awake.
Exercising during the day is not just good for your waistline, it's beneficial to your sleep patterns. Even something as simple as a 20-minute walk in the afternoon can help you sleep better at night. Doing something relaxing close to bedtime, such as writing in a journal or reading, can help you sleep better, too. If nothing seems to be working, consult your doctor. You might have a medical issue that's interfering with your sleep. If all else fails, your doctor might recommend you take medication to help you fall asleep and stay asleep all night.