With anxiety and general life stress often comes an unwelcome 3 a.m. wake-up call that knocks on your door unbidden almost every night. With your mind swirling with thoughts, the real challenge is in falling—and staying—asleep until your morning alarm rings. While reasons vary from person-to-person, scientists have pointed the finger at your evening glass of wine, late-night phone browsing, stress, overheating or late-night bathroom runs as possible culprits.
So how can you make it through the night without waking up? Sleep expert Wendy Troxel, Ph.D., has some answers. Surprisingly, Troxel recommends getting out of bed and switching to a relaxing activity, like reading, to lull yourself back to sleep.
"Our brains learn by association, and to sleep well, you want your brain to have a strong learned association between the bed and sleep," says Troxel. "The key is to distract yourself from the fact that you are not sleeping (so you don't practice worrying in bed), and once your brain is distracted by some other activity, you might actually get sleepy again. At that point, you can return to bed.”
In terms of preventing sleep issues, she recommends working out in the evening to manage stress and setting a consistent wake-up time. "The time you wake up is the single most important factor that sets your brain's internal biological clock, so the brain knows when to be alert and awake (during the day) and when it should be asleep (at night)."
How do you sleep through the entire night? Share your tips with us below.