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Last Updated on December 18, 2020

Why You Keep Waking Up in the Middle of the Night (And How to Fix It)

Why You Keep Waking Up in the Middle of the Night (And How to Fix It)

Why is a good night of sleep so hard to achieve?

A bad night of sleep is cumulative. The side effects of a poor night of sleep carry over into the entire day leaving your brain running off fumes feeling fatigued, unable to focus and unproductive. It’s frustrating trying to get tasks done when your brain is screaming at you to just fall flat onto your desk and just “take 5.”

If you’re someone who finds themselves waking up at odd hours of the night with difficulty getting back to sleep or waking up not feeling refreshed and energized, then listen up because these next sections are for you.

In this article, we’re going to dive into some of the most common reasons why you’re not getting a good night of sleep and what you can start doing about it.

Is it normal to wake up in the middle of the night?

Shouldn’t we always sleep eight hours straight through the night?

It’s actually not uncommon for someone to wake up in the middle of the night, even 3-4 times a night. The normal human cycle of sleep is roughly every 90-120 minutes. According to Dr. Michael Breus, a sleep expert, most people will go through three to four “cycles” of sleep per night.

Towards the end of each cycle, sleep is less deep and you have a higher likelihood of being woken up. Sometimes we are unaware that we are even awake because we just fall right back to sleep, which is normal. This may be the main reason why many people rarely have true uninterrupted eight hours of sleep.

This becomes a problem when we have difficulty getting back to sleep. If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night and unable to get back to sleep, it could be a sign of an issue that may need to be addressed.

Waking up at the same time every night?

If you find yourself waking up at nearly the same time every single night, don’t panic. This may actually be a sign of a healthy and dependable sleep cycle. Many people tend to find they most commonly wake up in between cycles roughly 4-6 hours from when they went to bed.

This infographic illustrates what parts of your body maybe unhealthy based on the time you wake up at night:[1]

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    If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night with consistent difficulty getting back to sleep, this could be a warning signal that you may need to make a change to your sleep habits using some of the strategies below.

    Why am I waking up in the middle of the night? (And ways to tackle it)

    There are several reasons that may be the cause of why you are waking up in the middle of the night. Let’s take a look at the top 5 most common reasons why:

    1. You’re taking your stress to bed

    Maybe you had a rough day at the office or have other form of stress. Stress doesn’t take a rest when you do. Often times, stress travels with you back to your home and eventually into your sleep unless you deal with it. If you don’t properly handle your stress, you end up lying in bed mulling over your stress for hours, whether you are consciously aware of this happening or not.

    Have you ever found yourself in bed trying to sleep, only to be still thinking about the argument you had or the meeting that you wish went better?

    Our brain tends to ruminate over our stress and it can end up keeping us from deep sleep because of it or it wakes us up in the middle of the night. When you mull over your stress, you are subtly keeping your brains in a state of “fight-or-flight”. When your brain is in a fight-or-flight mode, it has an extremely tough time falling asleep.

    What to do?

    If you find yourself taking your stress to bed or waking up in the middle of the night stressed, a simple strategy to practice is box-breathing. Box-breathing is a powerful strategy that helps calm the stress signals in your brain so that it can begin to fall asleep and stay asleep.

    It’s a modern spin on “counting sheep.” With box breathing, you will count the same time on your inhale, hold at the top, exhale and hold at the bottom. It will look something like this: (you will be in bed for this)

    • Inhale for 4 seconds
    • Hold at the top of the inhale for 4 seconds
    • Exhale for 4 seconds
    • Hold at the bottom of the exhale for 4 seconds.

    This simple strategy can help you release stress from the day so that you can step into a great night of deep sleep.

    2. Bad sleep foods

    A critical hormone in regulating sleep that you may be familiar with is a hormone called melatonin. Melatonin levels rise in your body roughly 2 hours before bedtime, triggering tiredness and sleepiness, then lowers throughout the night until you wake up.

    It’s important to know that melatonin is conversely related to cortisol, your body’s stress hormone. So as melatonin goes up, cortisol goes down and we sleep. As melatonin goes down and cortisol goes up, we wake up.

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    Having too much cortisol in our body, especially as we get towards the end of the day, can have a negative impact on our sleep and can keep us waking up in the middle of the night when we really should be sleeping.

    You may be surprised to find there are many everyday foods that we are eating that are triggering a stress response in our brain by creating inflammation. Our brain is extremely sensitive to inflammation and inflammation will leave the brain more sensitive to stress.

    Some of the tops foods that may be wrecking your sleep could be:

    • Trans-Fat – Trans-Fat is a highly processed and highly inflammatory fat source that you should avoid at all costs if you want a good night sleep.
    • Highly processed vegetable oils – Oils like Safflower, Palm, and Canola oil have a few issues. First, they typically oxidize extremely quickly. Oxiditation is a form of “rusting” in fats. When these oils get heated, they “rust” very quickly which creates an inflammatory response in the body. Second, these oils are typically loaded with toxins from their processing which also makes them very inflammatory.
    • Fruit juices and yogurts – These are typically marketed as healthy foods but in reality, they are full of sugar which can disrupt healthy sleep.
    • Alcohol  – Alcohol has been seen as a way to calm down after a long day and many believe it helps them get a good night sleep. It turns out that alcohol actually does more harm than good. Alcohol has been shown to increase wakefulness during the second half of sleep and also increases cortisol levels.[2]

    What to do?

    Make sure to get rid of these foods especially before bed to avoid any interruptions in your sleep.

    3. Electronics before bed

    Our modern technology has made accessing our favorite social media, movies and T.V. episodes available at arms reach 24 hours a day. It turns out that this advancement in technology may be negatively impacting our brain’s ability to sleep optimally.

    Light from LED screens like your smartphone, computer and television has a high density of blue spectrum light.

    Your brain is very familiar with blue light. It’s most familiar with blue light around noon when the sun emits the most amount of blue light. Blue light is an important spectrum of light that helps our brains determine what time of day it is.

    When blue light is highest around noon, it helps the brain calibrate it’s circadian rhythm to the correct time of day so that we’ll be ready for bed at the appropriate time in the evening.

    Getting blue light from your smartphones or T.V. before bed can unknowingly be triggering your brain to think it’s actually earlier in the day than it truly is, which can inadvertently be affecting your circadian rhythm and optimal sleep.

    What to do?

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    Avoid all electronics use at least an hour before bedtime to avoid unnatural blue light and allow your brain to start to calm down so you can get great sleep.

    4. Working until bedtime

    You only have 24 hours in a day so you want to maximize it. Sometimes that means working late into the night. As soon as you shut down your computer or finish the call, you hop into bed, hoping to get some reprieve and recovery from the day.

    When the brain is actively engaged in mental activities or work, the brain is typically generating “beta” brain waves. Brain waves are what keep us focused and alert to the task at hand, but unfortunately being alert and focused does not lead to great sleep. It takes time for the brain to transition from an alert phase to the rest phase.

    What to do?

    The key is to give the brain a “cue” that work is over and it’s time to make a switch to a relaxed state so that we can begin the process to unwind and eventually sleep.

    Some cues you can use to tell your brain it’s time to unwind are:

    • Shut everything off and begin to take 20 slow deep breathes.
    • Read a fiction book.
    • Take a hot shower.
    • Watch an episode of your favorite show, just make sure it’s at least an hour until you go to bed.
    • Play some relaxing music

    Use whatever works best for you but the key is to stay consistent. The more consistent you are with your cues, the better the brain gets at making the transition from work to relaxation.

    5. Not making a sleep routine

    Your brain loves routine. There’s a saying in neuroscience that says “The Brain Wires The Way It Fires,” meaning the more the brain engages in the same activity or habit, the more wiring the brain lays down make it easier and simpler for the brain to accomplish.

    When it comes to getting great sleep, having a “sleep routine” is crucial to helping the brain relax from the day and begin to set the stage for a great night sleep.

    Think about the last time you went to workout, did you arrive at the gym and immediately start throwing weights around or start running? Of course not. You warmed up (hopefully) and got your body prepared to workout.

    Think of your sleep routine as a warm-up for your brain to get ready for sleep. The only difference is that the more you “warm-up” with your sleep routine, the better the brain gets.

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    What to do?

    The best way to get started is to set a specific time every night, typically an hour before bedtime, where you’ll commit to shutting down work and electronics to transition into your sleep routine. Whatever routine you chose, make sure to stick to it for a few weeks to give your brain time to adapt to the new schedule.

    If you’re looking for a good night routine to follow, here it is: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

    Your blueprint for “lights out” sleep

    If you want to be able to stay productive and have incredible amounts of energy, you’re going to need great quality sleep.

    Not sure where to get started?

    Here’s your blueprint to help you get an amazing night of sleep and keep you from waking up in the middle of the night.

    1. Create a great sleep routine and stick to it.
    2. Write down everything you need to do the next day so you can get it off your mind and let your brain relax.
    3. Avoid the sleep trouble foods, especially before bedtime.
    4. Turn your TV, phone and computer off before bed.
    5. Stop working at least an hour before bedtime to allow your brain to make the transition to get ready for bed.
    6. Get to bed at a good time.

    These strategies will help you not only get a great night of sleep but will also help keep you from waking up in the middle of the night restless and unable to get back to sleep.

    Sleep well, my friends!

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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    Dr Brady Salcido

    Dr Brady is a Doctor, Podcast Host, and Brain Optimization Expert sharing how you can use your lifestyle to upgrade your life.

    10 Brain Vitamins for Enhanced Brain Power and Focus Stress and meditation Anxiety Help Through Meditation: How the ‘Here and Now’ Enhances Your Life Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brain Health And Brain Power Why You Keep Waking Up in the Middle of the Night (And How to Fix It) Need Journal Inspiration? 15 Journal Ideas to Kickstart

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    Published on February 26, 2021

    8 Best Natural Energy Drinks For An Instant Energy Boost

    8 Best Natural Energy Drinks For An Instant Energy Boost

    Need an energy boost? Don’t reach for that soft drink! Sure, the sugar and caffeine might make you feel more energized, but that feeling is only a temporary spike in blood sugar. When it wears off, you’ll crash—and feel even worse than before!

    The good news is that there are plenty of natural energy drinks that can ramp up your energy levels without spiking your blood sugar. That means no energy crash and no empty calories. Many of these drinks can even be made at home, so you can easily avoid the added sugars and artificial ingredients.

    Here are eight of the best natural energy drinks you can try (and make) for yourself at home.

    1. Kombucha

    Kombucha is a fermented tea made with a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). Kombucha has a long list of health properties: B vitamins, glucuronic acid (a detoxifier), and loads of antioxidant-rich polyphenols. But what kombucha is best known for is its probiotic bacteria and acetic acid, which have been shown to boost energy levels.[1]

    Probiotics play a huge role in energy production. Studies suggest that by improving the balance of healthy bacteria in your gut, your “friendly” bacteria will be better able to break down the nutrients in the food you eat.[2] This means you’ll get a natural energy boost from eating the right foods!

    Acetic acid has even been shown to increase your metabolism, which means you’ll be using calories from food more efficiently. Acetic acid is the only short-chain fatty acid to reach the systemic circulation in significant amounts where it provides energy for muscles and other tissues. It’s also non-insulinogenic, which means it won’t give you a blood sugar spike.

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    You can brew kombucha yourself at home by obtaining a SCOBY, or you can buy bottled kombucha in a store. Just make sure you buy the real stuff![3]

    2. Oolong Tea

    Poor energy levels can be reversed with a delicious cup of oolong tea. This ancient Chinese beverage is also known as “black dragon tea,” and it’s packed with catechins similar to those found in green tea. These catechins work by promoting your body’s ability to break down fat, which can boost energy levels.

    Studies suggest that the catechins in oolong help your body to use fat cells for energy, while the mild caffeine content can give you a quick boost for getting through the day. It’s also been found that drinking full-strength oolong tea may increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation by 12%, which means you’ll be better able to obtain energy from food. It may even help with weight loss![4]

    You can make oolong tea with tea bags or loose leaves. Try blending it with green tea for an added boost!

    3. Green Tea

    Famous the world over, green tea is a powerhouse of health benefits and is often included in the list of beverages used by athletes for extra energy. The caffeine content of green tea is mostly responsible for its energizing benefits. Studies have shown that a regular cup or two of green tea can boost your metabolism and maintain healthy energy levels throughout the day.[5]

    Moreover, green tea is believed to increase fat-burning by encouraging your fat cells to release fat, then stimulating your liver’s ability to convert that body fat into energy. This is particularly helpful for weight loss! Try drinking green tea throughout the day to keep your metabolism ticking and your brain active. A cup or two before a workout could also contribute to your endurance and stamina.

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    4. Kvass

    Kvass is another fermented food, like kombucha—but it’s made from rye bread.[6] This traditional Slavic and Baltic drink is actually known as “black bread,” and it’s still enjoyed in many Eastern European countries.

    Kvass can be flavored with fruits, such as strawberries and raisins, or with herbs, such as mint. Traditionally, kvass is served unfiltered with its natural yeast content, which adds to its unique flavor. It’s a good source of B vitamins, which help your body produce energy. Kvass also contains lactic acid and simple sugars, which can be helpful for a quick boost.[7]

    Like kombucha, the fermenting process of kvass allows for beneficial bacteria that may improve your digestion. This means you’ll be better able to absorb the energy content of foods you eat. Kvass can also be made with beetroot, which boosts its nutritional content and has excellent benefits you’re your gut microbiome. Beets are a good source of folate, vitamin C, potassium, iron, and phytonutrients. These are made more bioavailable when fermented into kvass!

    5. Matcha

    Matcha is one of Japan’s most revered beverages. It’s made by crushing green tea leaves into a fine, bright green powder before being mixed in with hot or cold water. This process helps to retain many of the natural antioxidants and other nutrients in the leaves.[8]

    The matcha tea bushes are grown in areas out of sunlight, which delays photosynthesis and slows the growth of the plant. The result is a higher concentration of chlorophyll, a powerful detoxifier, and a good energy source.

    Drinking matcha means you’re drinking the whole leaf—all the natural caffeine and antioxidants. The nutritional content is thought to be almost 10 times greater than traditionally steeped green tea! Best of all, matcha provides the energy that comes on gently, rather than the “hit” that coffee supplies.

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    6. Coconut Water

    Coconut water may be 95% water, but it’s still a great source of energizing minerals. Coconut water is the clear liquid found in green coconuts, and it’s a naturally sweet and refreshing drink.

    Coconut water is a much healthier alternative to sports drinks—and contains more than 10 times the potassium! Potassium helps to maintain a healthy balance of electrolytes, which is essential before and during exercise as it has less sodium—the main electrolyte you lose with sweat—than most sport’s drinks. The magnesium in coconut water also supports normal energy production and reduces cramping so you’ll be able to keep exercising for longer.[9]

    Most importantly, coconut water has fewer carbohydrates than many commercial sports beverages, which is important for proper rehydration after exercise.

    7. Yerba Mate

    Yerba mate is a traditional drink made from the dried leaves of Ilex paraguariensis, a type of holly native to South America. It’s a very social drink and famous throughout South America.

    Yerba mate can boost your energy levels in much the same way as coffee but without the caffeine jitters! In fact, the energizing effects of yerba mate are described as gentle and calm. Mate drinkers report that they feel more alert but don’t experience the crash that coffee can produce.

    It’s for this reason that many athletes use yerba mate to enhance their physical performance before a workout or event. It’s also believed to be helpful to those suffering from mental or physical fatigue or chronic fatigue syndrome.

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    It’s also mentally energizing—yerba mate enhances memory, boosts mood, and increases concentration. It’s said to make you feel more motivated and be productive by stimulating the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine.[10]

    8. Carrot Juice

    Carrots are a fantastic source of beta-carotene—the provitamin A carotenoid which your body can quickly convert into vitamin A. Beta carotene is a powerful antioxidant that not only protects your body from free radicals but also bolsters energy levels.

    Vitamin A plays many roles in growth and development, and it’s especially important in maintaining energy. Research has shown that vitamin A is crucial for assisting with daily energy production and physical activity.[11] Our cells create energy by first creating adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy-carrying molecule found in the cells of all living things. To do this, our cells first need sufficient vitamin A. Low levels of vitamin A will directly affect your body’s ATP production, causing your energy levels to dwindle.

    Carrot juice is one of the healthiest veggie-based drinks out there, and it has much lower sugar than fruit juices! It’s also super easy to make at home.

    Final Thoughts

    You don’t have to consume artificial energy drinks to get the energy boost you need. Try out these eight natural energy drinks that are packed full of micronutrients to keep you healthy, active, and energized. You just have to put in a little more effort in preparing them, but I guarantee it’s worth it.

    More Natural Energy Drinks

    Featured photo credit: Raimond Klavins via unsplash.com

    Reference

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