How to Fall Back Asleep When Nothing Seems to Be Working

Updated 09/20/19

 Free People

Sleep is the most precious time of the day. Feeling fatigued is not fun, which is why everyone needs to catch a few z’s. We know you have a million things to do, and there aren’t enough hours in the day, but there’s no way you can succeed if your energy levels are low. What’s worse than feeling tired all the time? When you finally get some shut-eye and it’s interrupted. It’s happened to all of us—that one text, call, dream, or that rush of anxiety.

Now you’re wide awake, your thoughts are running a mile a minute, and you’re trying every single thing to go back to sleep, but you can’t. Instead of staring at the ceiling, you’ll probably feel inclined to grab your cell or turn on the TV to pass the time. That’s only going to wake up your body even more. We called on Adam Tishman, the co-founder and sleep expert of Helix Sleep, to give us the lowdown on how to fall back asleep when you just can’t seem to close your eyes. Follow along to find out what’s keeping you awake and how to fix it.

Exercise

“Not getting enough exercise during the day can cause disruptions in sleeping because your body has already been at rest,” Tishman explains. Partaking in any high-energy activities like working out right before you sleep is also not the best thing to do, according to Tishman. “More often than not, late-night workouts interfere with your sleep by raising your body temperature and stimulating both your body and brain too close to bedtime.”

Anxiety

Anxiety is a major player in sleep disruptions. Thoughts about work or personal conflicts can make your mind run wild in the middle of the night,” Tishman says. “Exercising and meditating help the body and mind channel nervous energy elsewhere.”

Sleep apnea

“Sleep apnea is a condition in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts throughout the night, causing you to wake up. In most cases, you won’t realize you suffer from sleep apnea until a partner notices your breathing pause throughout the night,” Tishman says.

Indigestion

Indigestion can wake you up in the middle of the night, especially if you ate a large meal close to bedtime,” Tishman notes. “Try to stop eating a few hours before falling asleep to avoid this.”

Your bedroom is too hot

“Body temperature drops while you sleep,” Tishman explains. “Sleeping in a room that’s too hot or under a blanket that’s too warm makes your body work harder to cool down, which can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night and prevent you from getting deep sleep.”

Noise

“Noises from both outside and inside your bedroom can wake you up in the middle of the night, for example, a loud siren outside or a roommate getting up to use the bathroom. If you’re sensitive to sound or live in a loud area, try using a white noise machine or ear plugs,” says Tishman.

what you can do to help

Since you have an idea of what could be interrupting your sleep pattern, do yourself a favor, and practice helpful habits before bed to ensure a restful night. Try quiet activities to wind down. “Sometimes our minds and bodies get stuck in our daily routine, so winding down before bedtime is essential for restful sleep,” Tishman explains. “Meditation or reading fiction can help shift our focus and become more relaxed. Blue light from your laptop or phone does the exact opposite.”

Tishman also advises pretending to sleep. “Try just simply closing your eyes, taking deep breaths, and clearing your mind. This will help to notify your body that you’re ready to sleep.” If that doesn’t work, you should get out of bed. “Somewhat counter-intuitively, getting out of bed and engaging in a quiet activity elsewhere can help you feel sleepy again. If you find yourself lying awake for more than 20 minutes, your body starts to associate being in bed with unhealthy waking habits,” Tishman says.

Taking a hot bath is not only of the best self-care activities, but it’s also a great transition into sleep. “Your body temperature naturally lowers at night, starting about two hours before sleep. By soaking in a hot bath, your temperature will rise, and the quick cooldown period that immediately follows helps relax and lull you into a deep sleep later in the night,” says Tishman.

After your bath, try using a sleep scent. “Sleep scents promote sleep through aromatherapy. Our olfactory system, which is our sense of smell, is directly linked to the emotional center of the brain. So when you smell something good, your body releases feel-good, relaxing chemicals that can set the stage for great sleep,” Tishman explains. “Studies have shown that specific essential oils used in aromatherapy can help relieve stress, relax the body, and promote better sleep.”

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