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10 Common Reasons You’re Lying Awake In The Middle Of The Night

Words by Jen Nurick

Let’s be blunt: the only predicament worse than getting less than the recommended six to eight hours of shut eye a night is finding oneself awake in the middle of it. If you’re anything like us—occasionally overtired and/or love to snooze without disruption—going to bed likely makes up one of your favourite pastimes, where you can accumulate beauty rest and grow your sleep bank without lifting an eyelid. That is, if you manage to sleep undisturbed. Factors like noise and stress, heat and light—that may be out of our control—can play into the ways we sleep and determine if we get through the night without waking, but root causes can be hard to identify alone. Read on as we eliminate the guesswork and unpack ten potential reasons you may be lying awake in the middle of the night—take note and thank us later…

1. You’re consuming caffeine too late in the day

Hard as it may be, try to pass up that second or third cup of coffee in the late afternoon. According to sleep expert Dr. Sujay Kansagra, the body only empties itself of “half the caffeine in your system every four to seven hours.” So, even if you reach for the pillow later at night, caffeine consumed earlier in the day could still be active, preventing you from maximising your rest.

2. You’re too warm

When it comes to peaceful slumber, there is a critical link between a cool environment—and in turn, a cool body—and deeper, longer sleep. Simply put: that heater cranking in the corner during wintertime is actually doing you a disservice. Sleep expert Adam Tischman emphasises that the ideal temperature to fall asleep in lies between 15-20 degrees Celsius, so consider your choice of bedding wisely. Our range of linen insulates in the cold and keeps you cool in the heat thanks to its natural breathability, making them the ideal bedfellows for the summertime.

3. You’re concocting the wrong nightcap

While it is certainly true that alcohol can have a sedative effect on some individuals, unfortunately it’s not justification enough to reach for a glass of red in the interest of enhanced sleep. Primary care specialist Marc Leavey says that although a nightcap may help to fall asleep more quickly, it won’t provide the right kind of sleep. In technical terms, alcohol disturbs more restful sleeping gained through healthy rapid eye movement or REM. Considering that this is the sleep phase during which our capacity for dreaming is most active, and which is believed to positively impact mood and memory, we advise alternating with a mocktail or herbal tea to promote peaceful zzzs.

4. You’re sleeping on the wrong bed

To ensure that this is your problem, keep a sleep log and list the various factors that could be preventing your rest. Narrow these down in a process of elimination and if all else checks out, consider replacing your mattress.

5. You’re overusing tech devices

Don’t shoot the messenger—we’re not thrilled about this one either. Besides the hyperstimulation of scrolling through Instagram or surfing through YouTube channels that makes it harder for the brain to unwind, the blue light emitted from one’s phone or laptop screens is hurting our chances of maximising our rest. Blue light disrupts the production of melatonin—the hormone that aids sleeping—so try minimising your technology face time, at least in the hours before bed.

6. Your bedroom is letting in too much light

This one explains itself—attempt to make your sleep sanctuary as dark as possible to avoid waking up with the sun.

7. You’re too stressed

Unfortunately, there is no fix all solution to tackle stress, as every experience is an individual one and often out of our control. However, there is a strong correlation between regular sleep and a significant alleviation of stress. On the other side of the coin, the American Psychological Association emphasises that if we sleep less than the optimal 6-8 hours a night, we can exacerbate our stress levels. To prevent added stress, attempt to prioritise your rest where possible and note any improvements in mood and overall wellbeing.

8. Your sleep environment needs adjusting

Your bedroom is your sleep sanctuary—make sure the space reflects this. Where possible, separate your work environment from your sleep environment and incorporate soothing scents into the room with scented candles or a beautiful plant.

9. You’re exercising too closely to bedtime

Work/life balance isn’t necessarily as hard as you might think—sometimes it’s harder. While busy schedules may force us into the gym early in the morning or late at night, Dr. Kansagra outlines that “vigorous exercise can raise the body temperature long after you’ve finished working out.” This returns us to that critical link between optimal sleep and a cool body temperature—perhaps it’s time to reprioritise new Bed Threads over that gym membership…

10. You could be suffering from an undiagnosed sleep disorder

If you find yourself suffering from sleeplessness more often than not—and none of the above appear to be the root problem—you may have an undiagnosed sleeping disorder. There are more than 88 known sleeping disorders, so we advise you seek medical attention if sleep has been eluding you for some time.

If you are concerned about your health, wellbeing or sleep, your first port of call should be your GP, who will advise a correct treatment plan. 

For more from Jen Nurick, follow her on Instagram @jennurick and read her work at JENNURICK.com.