Sleep hours are the part of the day when one of the most common types of disorders occurs: problems with insomnia.
These are disorders that can be very harmful, as they not only cause discomfort and increase the risk of developing physical and psychological illnesses, but also deplete people’s mental agility and cognitive abilities, literally, overnight. to the day. Of course, not all forms of insomnia are this serious.
Here I will talk about one of them, the intensity can vary significantly, and this is given when, for a certain period, we usually wake up in the middle of the night, too early for the start of our day, and more or less always at the same time.
Why do I wake up at the same time in the middle of the night?
This is a question that many patients ask themselves when they go into psychotherapy or in consultation with the doctor. Apparently, it’s rare for a phenomenon like this to happen: what makes us wake up in the middle of the night, if we don’t have temporary references like waking up or reasons to get up? at this hour?
In fact, it’s not that weird. After all, it’s perfectly normal to wake up at around the same time of the day a few minutes before the alarm goes off; it is clear that the body has a mechanism for estimating the passage of time even if we are not aware.
This set of biological mechanisms constitutes what we call circadian rhythms: it is a kind of internal clock which determines the degree of activation of our body, and which functions from the release of hormones. The key hormone here is something called melatonin, Since it is released according to our degree of exposure to light, whether natural or artificial. Thus, melatonin acts as a “bridge” between the external time, determined by the sun, and the internal clock, which is tuned through this substance.
From this time benchmark, the human body estimates which hours you need more of the available energy to burn, and which hours you rest. The problem is that sometimes this internal biological clock can work against us. If there is anything that is interfering with its functioning, it can cause it to work out of phase, causing it to act as it normally does, but out of time. And that’s what happens with people who wake up in the middle of the night.
The phenomenon whereby some people tend to wake up in the middle of their day from sleeping for several hours at a time (which in most people occurs at night) is called biphasic sleep and is not in itself a disorder. It is only considered a problem after experiencing sleep disturbance, it is very difficult to fall back to sleep.. In these cases, this fact constitutes a sleep disorder called midnight insomnia.
What to do?
If this problem persists and occurs constantly, almost every night, it is important to see a health professional. the sooner the better, ideally seeking medical and psychotherapeutic support. In the meantime, there are a few simple tips that can help you get rid of this form of insomnia, but keep in mind that in many cases they will be insufficient and you will have to wait for professional guidance.
The tips are as follows.
1. Don’t stay in bed
When you wake up in the middle of the night and have trouble falling back to sleep, getting up and going to do some activity outside of bed, as long as it doesn’t require a lot of effort or concentration and do not expose yourself to a strong light source. In addition, it is better if this activity does not remind you of the responsibilities you have to take on during the day. For example, you can practice mindfulness, listen to a podcast, etc. After about 20 or 30 minutes, go back to bed and try to sleep.
2. Control stress levels
Often times, the main reason some people wake up too early in the middle of the night is because they have a hard time dealing with stress or anxiety.
In other words, that is to say your nervous system is more activated than normal and this affects his condition during sleep, so that after a while there is a need to wake up to be aware of what may happen.
To remedy this, there are several relaxation exercises that can help, such as Jacobson’s Progressive Muscle Relaxation, but the most effective is going to psychotherapy.
3. Live a healthy life
People who are not treated are more likely to develop problems with insomnia. For that, you must eat a balanced diet, exercise moderately and not spend a lot of time maintaining the same posture.
4. Strive to maintain a meaningful sleep schedule
Even if you haven’t slept much because of insomnia, try to stick to your schedule and not postpone or advance your bedtime much. Otherwise, it will be difficult to “train” the body to understand what the hours of sleep and wakefulness are.
Are you looking for psychological support?
If you are having this sleep problem or other psychological disorders that are affecting your quality of life, I invite you to contact me. I am an expert psychologist in the cognitive-behavioral intervention model and its associated techniques, which have been shown to be effective in dealing with a wide variety of emotional and anxiety disorders. You can use my services in my office located in Madrid, or through online video calling sessions. If you would like to know more about my way of working or if you would like to see my contact details, please visit this page.
- American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2001). International Classification of Sleep Disorders, Revised (ICSD-R). Darien, IL: American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
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