Useful Tips to Fall Back Asleep After You Wake Up

Many people in the United States experience nocturnal awakenings, and the prevalence of these awakenings increases with age. If you wake up frequently during the night, and can’t fall back asleep, some useful tips can help you with this.

Written by:


, Sleep Researcher
Last Updated: Sun, October 6, 2019
Fact checked by:

Marko Jevtic

, Sleep Specialist

If you sleep peacefully at one moment and are wide awake in bed the next, not being able to fall back asleep, you already know how annoying and unpleasant something like this can be. You lie there in bed in the middle of the night, in a dark room, wait until you drift off to dreamland again, but it doesn’t happen. The worst thing is that the next day is very important, you have meetings and deadlines that you need to meet, need to be well-rested to get through the day properly focused and productive, but instead of getting a much-needed rest you just toss and turn in bed. Don’t worry; you are not alone as many people have experienced this type of sleeplessness before. If it happens very rarely, it is not a big deal. It has happened to every person on this planet at some point. However, if it happens regularly, it is about time to do something about it. According to studies, one-third of the general population in the United States experiences nocturnal awakenings, and the prevalence of these awakenings increases with age. 43% of these people have difficulties falling back asleep after waking up at night. If you want to know how to fall asleep again, we will suggest some tips that can help you get a good night’s rest that you deserve. 


Relax Your Mind and Body 

If you want to fall back asleep faster, you should relax your body and mind. You can do this by giving your mind something to focus on, instead of worrying about how to fall asleep. If you want to relax your body, progressive muscle relaxation can help you. It is done by first tensing your muscles for five seconds and then relaxing them as you lie in bed. You should do this over and over again for different muscle groups throughout the body, starting with your feet, and working your way up. Something like this will relax your body enough to go back to sleep, and it will give your mind something to focus on. 

Another thing that you should try is doing deep breathing exercises. Close your eyes, relax, and start taking slow and deep breaths. Deep breathing will prepare your body for sleep. Visualization technique can also help, and it is done by closing your eyes and picturing yourself in a peaceful place, far away from stress and worries. You can picture fantastic beaches or mountains, and imagine the sounds and scents of this peaceful place to make the entire experience more vivid.  


Avoid Looking at Your Clock 

When we wake up in the middle of the night, the first instinct that most of us have is to take a look at the clock to see what time it is. Most of us have no idea that this habit can harm our sleep. Worrying about the time when we are trying to fall back to sleep will only increase our stress. Counting the minutes that we have been awake, and hours before we need to get up in the morning will probably backfire as we will start being stressed about losing sleep, which will make it more difficult to drift off to dreamland again. You shouldn’t worry about the time as it is out of your control. Instead, you should turn the clock away from you so that you don’t see it, or simply ignore it if you can. If these things don’t help you can remove it from your bedroom. 


Stay Away from Electronic Devices 

Maybe you are not aware of this, but the soft blue light that comes from your favorite electronic devices is the worst enemy of sleep. This light suppresses the melatonin receptors and disrupts your sleep cycles. It will energize your brain and trick it into thinking that it is daytime, which means that, the longer you look at their screens, the more awake you will feel, and you won’t be able to return to sleep easily after using them. The noise coming from these devices can also prevent you from getting enough rest. Text alerts and the ringtone when someone is calling you can disrupt you, and your sleep will suffer even if call and message notifications are set to vibrate. 


Turn Down the Heat 

If you want to sleep comfortably throughout the night, the temperature in your bedroom should be between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit as it is the best temperature for sleep. When our bodies start powering down for the night, our body core temperature drops, and it helps us enter and stay in REM sleep. If we turn down the heat in our bedroom, it will make us feel sleepy, and it will encourage the sleep onset. No matter how cozy it feels to be in a warm bedroom, especially during cold winter months, it can inhibit your sleep. In case you tend to wake up from night sweats during the night, you should also try to sleep naked. 


Get Out of Bed 

In case you can’t seem to fall back to sleep, you should get out of your bed and do something. However, it doesn’t mean that you should do this immediately after you wake up. It is the best idea to stay in your bed for 15-20 minutes, and if you are still not asleep after this period of wakefulness, you should get out of bed and go to another room to do something relaxing, such as listening to soothing music or an audiobook, doing yoga nidra, or reading a book. Something like this will prevent you from stressing about not being able to sleep, and associating your bed with not sleeping well. However, make sure you don’t do anything exciting, such as working out, watching Netflix, playing video games, scrolling through social media, etc. as it will only wake you up and you won’t feel sleepy anymore. The point is to do something boring that won’t overstimulate you. Also, while doing unexciting things in a different room, you should avoid turning too many lights on.  


Put on Cozy Socks 

We already mentioned that cooler bedroom temperatures are ideal for quality sleep, so this tip may not make sense, but it certainly helps. Here is how it works – when you put on a pair of socks, they will warm your feet, which will draw blood flow to this part of your body, and lower your core body temperature. In other words – if you wear socks, you will fall asleep faster. However, many people have reservations when it comes to wearing socks to bed, and they simply don’t like it, whereas others consider this normal. If you can’t stand the thought of sleeping with socks on, you can use a heating pad at your feet as it will also do the trick. 


Use Essential Oils 

Essential oils have many different purposes, and they can do wonders when it comes to helping you fall asleep faster. Some essential oils, especially lavender, are miracle workers that can have a positive impact on your sleep. They will put you into an increased state of relaxation and prepare you for getting enough ZZZs. All you need to do is to use an essential oil diffuser or add a few drops on your pillowcase, and you will sleep better. 


Create a To-Do List 

We live in a fast-paced world, and we often don’t have enough time to relax and do everything that we are supposed to do because of our obligations and tasks. As a result, we often have to wait until going to bed to have some time to relax and think. Many people start thinking about everything that they have to do after they get in bed to sleep. Something like this can be very stressful, especially if we think about them excessively, and this stress can keep us awake at night and prevent us from falling back to sleep. If you want to avoid something like this, you should write everything down as soon as you wake up in the middle of the night, if you can’t fall asleep again. You should get a pen and a paper, and create a to-do list as it will clear your mind. You won’t have to stress about things that await you and think about them excessively when you have already written them on your to-do list.  


Reasons Why You are Waking Up Mid-Sleep 

Millions of adults have sleep difficulties. Even if they can fall asleep easily in the evening, some people have troubles staying asleep throughout the night. Although they are tired and drift off to dreamland quickly, they sometimes find themselves wide awake at 2 a.m. tossing and turning and not being able to sleep again. We all know that getting sufficient shut-eye is the key to feeling refreshed and being ready for new challenges that await us the next day. When our sleep is interrupted, we are likely to feel sleepy and tired. Some things that interfere with our ability to get enough shut-eye at night include: 

You Drink Too Much Caffeine 

We all know that caffeine is a stimulant that energizes us, and that’s why we drink it. However, it can also interfere with our ability to fall asleep if we consume it in the late afternoon or evening, and it can lead to poor quality sleep and waking up in the middle of the night. It takes around six hours for our body to get rid of half the caffeine that you consumed, which means that you will feel its effects several hours after the consumption. If you tend to wake up regularly at night, you should cut down on caffeine, especially within a few hours before bedtime. 

You Drink Alcohol in the Evening 

Having a couple of drinks in the evening can make it easy to drift off to dreamland, but it also causes restless sleep. As the alcohol that we consumed metabolizes, its effects wear off, and it prevents deep sleep and contributes to restless nights. If you are looking for quality rest, you should limit the alcohol consumption to a few hours before going to bed. Of course, everyone metabolizes alcohol differently, based on different factors including weight, genetics, and diet, but you should allow your body at least a few hours to process it until you decide to hit the sack.  

You Have Anxiety 

People with anxiety tend to wake up at night occasionally. Difficulties sleeping is one of the most common symptoms of an anxiety disorder. When people are anxious, their heartbeat tends to rise, which makes it difficult to relax and stay asleep. Anxiety can also contribute to nightmares, and it can cause nocturnal panic attacks, which are the episodes of intense panic that wake people up from their sleep. If your anxiety wakes you up frequently in the middle of the night, you should consult your doctor. 

Your Bladder Can’t Wait 

If your bladder can’t wait until the morning, and you need to go to pee at least once during the night, this condition is called nocturia, and it is more common than you think. Some of the causes of this condition include bladder obstruction, sleep disorders, and drinking too much fluid before going to bed. It occurs in both women and men, and it becomes more common as we age. You should restrict your fluid intake a couple of hours before bedtime and see if it will reduce the number of nightly bathroom trips. If restricting fluids doesn’t help, you should consult a doctor for explanations and potential treatment. 

You Eat Too Late 

If you are hungry before sleep, you should have a light snack before going to bed. Eating heavy meals close to bedtime is a terrible idea as you will toss and turn during the night, and it can lead to acid reflux and indigestion. If you want to avoid waking up at night without being able to fall back asleep, you should stay away from greasy and spicy foods before bed. 

As you can see, there are numerous reasons why you are waking up at night, some of which are easily changeable. 


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Renata is an economist who has always had a passion for writing. She is a dog lover, Netflix addict and a sleepaholic. When she is not busy doing sleep research, she spends her time reading books, hiking and playing video games.

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