Many people with sleep problems don’t have problems falling asleep when the go to bed. However, sometime during the night they wake up and have a problem falling back to sleep. This type of insomnia is called “sleep maintenance insomnia”.
The other main type of insomnia is “sleep onset insomnia” which means a person has problems falling asleep when they go to bed. Often this type of insomnia comes from being overly anxious or worried.
But “sleep maintenance insomnia” may be more common, and is more likely in women. As we get older, the risk of this type of insomnia increases.
Common External Causes of Sleep Maintenance Insomnia:
- A partner who snores
- A pet or a neighbor’s pet disturbing you
- Noisy neighbors or street noise
Common Internal Causes of Sleep Maintenance Insomnia
- Nighttime cough
- Sleep apnea (with excessive snoring)
- Acid reflux from stomach
- Need to wake at night to urinate (may be from large prostate or diabetes)
- Nasal congestion from allergies
- Heart rhythm problems
- There are other possibilities, so a complete checkup is a good idea
Stress is a common problem that contributes to any type of insomnia. Sometimes just the worry about losing sleep leads to more insomnia. No matter what type of insomnia you have, try also to deal with any underlying stresses.
To lessen sleep maintenance insomnia
1) If you have one or more of the factors on the above list affecting your sleep, try to treat those problems. A complete medical exam can find problems you might not be aware of.
2) Change habits that might be affecting your sleep
- Stop smoking
- Avoid alcohol for at least 3 hours before sleep
- Avoid eating within a few hours of bedtime, and avoid any foods at night that might cause your acid reflux to be worse (such as spicy foods or tomato products—each person has their own trigger foods). You may want to take some anti-reflux pill such as Zantac if needed.
- If you wake up at night to urinate, try to drink less fluids during the evening
- If you are allergic to some things in your bedroom, try to minimize exposure or try allergy pills
3) Avoid naps during the daytime
You may be more tired during the day after you didn’t sleep well the night before, but try to avoid naps. If you nap, you may prolong the problems because you won’t be as sleepy at night
If you need to nap, keep the nap time 20 minutes or less
4) Do some aerobic exercise each day
To help your overall health, and help make you sleepier at night
5) if you are overweight, you are more prone to sleep problems. Keep to a smart weight.
6) If you wake up at night and can’t sleep for 20 minutes or more, get out of bed and try some relaxing activity, such as reading a book, that might make you sleepy. Go back to bed when you feel the need.
In our next post, we will tell you two techniques to try if you need some help diminishing stress and worry during your nighttime, as well as how a mental help professional could help you if needed. Are online sleep help programs just as good as therapy? Our next post covers all that. Stay tuned.
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