A sleep specialist explains what to do if you wake up in the middle of night and can't fall back asleep

Sarah Schmalbruch
Wednesday 25 January 2017 13:13 GMT
(Getty Images)

The INSIDER Summary:

• There are a couple things you shouldn't do when you wake up in the middle of the night and can't fall back asleep.

• Don't go to the bathroom unless you really have to because getting out of bed raises your heart rate.

• Relax and don't look at the clock to see how much time you have left to sleep.

There's nothing worse than waking up from a peaceful slumber only to find that you can't fall back asleep.

While there aren't really any ways to trick your body back into sleep, there are a few things you can do that will increase your chances of getting more shuteye.

Here's the advice we received from Dr. Michael Breus, sleep specialist and author of "The Power of When."

Don't go to the bathroom unless you really need to.

According to Breus, you raise your heart rate simply by sitting up in bed.

Why does this matter? Breus says that your heart must be at a very particular rate for you to enter into a state of unconsciousness (sleep). That rate is different for everyone, but it's usually around 60 beats per minute.

By getting out of bed you're disrupting that rate and forcing your heart to pump blood against gravity, which means it has to pump at a rate above 60. In order to return to sleep, your heart will have to slow down again, which doesn't happen instantaneously.

Relax and don't look at the time.

Breus says that many people have an irrational fear of not getting enough sleep, even though one night of not enough shut-eye is nowhere near the end of the world. When many people wake up in the middle of the night and can't fall back asleep, their first instinct is to look at the clock and do the mental math to see how many hours they have left before their alarm goes off.

Breus advises against this, and instead says the best thing you can do is just try to relax. Once you become agitated or anxious, it's practically impossible to fall back asleep. So just clear your mind and let it happen instead of wishing for it.

Read the original article on INSIDER. Follow INSIDER on Facebook. Copyright 2017. Follow INSIDER on Twitter.


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