This Is Why You're Always Waking Up in the Middle of the Night
Find out what's been keeping you up at night—and what to do about it.
At some point or another in out lives, we all struggle with the occasional bout of insomnia, and that's completely natural. But if you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night—or unable to fall asleep to begin with—on a regular basis, this could be indicative of a larger issue at hand. From sleep apnea to anxiety, a number of factors can keep you from getting a good night's rest, many of which—though not all—may require medical attention. The good news is that by engaging in healthy habits and seeking the proper treatment, you can get these conditions under control—and your sleep schedule back on track. These are some of the most common reasons you keep waking up in the middle of the night.
According to researchers from the University of Bristol, "Links between sleep and depression are strong." The 2008 study, published in Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, found that approximately 75 percent of all depressed people deal with symptoms of insomnia, and 40 percent of young patients struggling with depressions experience excessive daytime sleepiness, or hypersomnia. If you are experiencing any symptoms of depression or have any reason to believe it is causing your sleeping problems, consider talking to someone—a friend, family member, or therapist—about what you're feeling.
Nocturia is the formal name for the condition that causes you to wake up in the middle of the night and urinate, the Cleveland Clinic explains. Though it becomes more common with age, other causes—some that you can easily manage—of this irritating condition include diabetes, increased caffeine and/or alcohol intake before bed, and an enlarged prostate. Regarding diabetes specifically, a 2017 study published in the Journal of Nursing Scholarship found that in a test group of 275 women with type 2 diabetes, more than 45 percent experienced this uncomfortable symptom.
The temperature at which you set your thermostat before you go to bed makes a huge difference in your quest for some solid shut-eye. "When you go to sleep, your set point for body temperature—the temperature your brain is trying to achieve—goes down," H. Craig Heller, PhD, professor of biology at Stanford University, told WebMD. And while being too cold or too hot can both keep you up at night, when in doubt, cooler is always better. Ideally, you should keep your thermostat set somewhere between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
Anxiety and insomnia are very closely linked, which makes sense—it's hard to relax, let alone sleep, when you're feeling anxious. As the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) notes, "stress and anxiety may cause sleeping problems or make existing problems worse, and having an anxiety disorder exacerbates the problem." A 2003 paper published in Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience supports that statement, noting that on average, anywhere from 24 percent to 36 percent of insomnia patients have an anxiety disorder, as well as 27 percent to 42 percent of patients with hypersomnia.
If you're a snorer, especially a regular and possibly disruptive one, talk to your doctor about getting checked for sleep apnea. Per the Mayo Clinic, the condition is characterized by the stopping and starting of one's breathing during sleep, with symptoms that include, in addition to snoring, choking during sleep and mood changes.
It's possible that a thyroid condition called hyperthyroidism is the reason you're always waking up in the middle of the night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the condition occurs when the body produces too much thyroid hormone, which causes "different bodily functions to speed up, leading you to feel wired and jittery."
Women going through menopause often find that their hot flashes keep them awake. "I treat many patients who, throughout menopause, are regularly awakened from sleep drenched in sweat, and then have trouble falling back asleep. Or [who] wake up feeling tired and unrested because of restless[ness] caused by night sweats," Michael Breus, PhD, a fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, says on his website.