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Waking up in the middle of the night
is called sleep maintenance insomnia,
and it’s a common problem. Midsleep
awakenings often occur during periods
of stress. To help stay asleep through
the night, try some of these strategies to
relieve insomnia:
Establish a quiet, relaxing
bedtime routine.
For example,
drink a cup of noncaffeinated tea, take
a warm shower, or listen to soft music.
Stretch or do some gentle
This can ease tension and help
tight muscles relax.
Put clocks in your bedroom out
of sight.
Clock-watching causes stress
and makes it harder to go back to sleep
if you wake up during the night.
Avoid caffeine after noon,
and limit alcohol to one drink
several hours before bedtime.
Both caffeine and alcohol can interfere
with sleep.
Get regular exercise.
But keep in
mind, exercising too close to bedtime
may interfere with sleep.
Go to bed only when you’re
If you aren’t sleepy at bedtime,
do something relaxing that will help
you wind down.
Wake up at the same time
every day.
If you go to sleep later
than usual, resist the urge to sleep in.
Avoid daytime napping.
Napping can throw off your sleep cycle.
If you wake up and can’t fall
back asleep within 20 minutes
or so, get out of bed.
Go to
another room and read or do other
quiet activities until you feel sleepy.
In some cases, insomnia is caused by a
physical condition such as sleep apnea,
restless legs syndrome or chronic pain.
Treatment for an underlying condition may
be necessary for insomnia to get better.
Insomnia can be linked to mental
health disorders, particularly
depression. Both depression and
insomnia may improve with
medications such as antidepressants or
psychological counseling.
If you keep having sleep problems, talk
to your doctor. In order to determine
the cause and best treatment for
insomnia, you may need to see a sleep
specialist. Over-the-counter sleep aids
rarely offer significant help for this
problem. Your doctor may prescribe
medication and have you try some
other strategies to get your sleep
pattern back on track.
July/Aug 2014