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An illustration shows a person in bed under a blue blanket, with a nightstand and lamp beside them. The text "SLEEP DOCTOR TIPS" and "FALLING BACK ASLEEP" is displayed, along with a cartoon moon and stars. The "10 almonds" logo and "Auto Draft Tips" are in the bottom right corner.

How to Fall Back Asleep After Waking Up in the Middle of the Night

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Dr. Michael Bruce, the Sleep Doctor, addresses a common concern: waking up in the middle of the night and struggling to fall back asleep.

Understanding the Wake-Up

Firstly, why are we waking up during the night?

Waking up between 2 AM and 3 AM is said to be normal, and linked to your core body temperature. As your body core temperature drops, to trigger melatonin release, and then rises again, you get into a lighter stage of sleep. This lighter stage of sleep makes you more prone to waking up.

Note, there are also some medical conditions (such as sleep apnea) that can cause you to wake up during the night.

But, what can we do about it? Aside from constantly shifting sleeping position (Should I be sleeping on my back? On my left? Right?)

Avoid the Clock

The first step is to resist the urge to check the time. It’s easy to be tempted to have a look at the clock, however, doing so can increase anxiety, making it harder to fall back asleep. As Dr. Bruce says, sleep is like love—the less you chase it, the more it comes.

It may be useful to point your alarm clock (if you still have one of those) the opposite direction to your bed.

Embracing Non-Sleep Deep Rest (NSDR)

Whilst this may not help you fall back asleep, it’s worth pointing out that just lying quietly in the dark without moving still offers rejuvenation. This revujenating stage is called Non-Sleep Deep Rest (otherwise known as NSDR)

If you’re not familiar with NSDR, check out our overview of Andrew Huberman’s opinions on NSDR here.

So, you can reassure yourself that whilst you may not be asleep, you are still resting.

Keep Your Heart Rate Down

To fall back asleep, it’s best if your heart rate is below 60 bpm. So, Dr. Bruce advises avoiding void getting up unnecessarily, as moving around can elevate your heart rate.

On a similar vain, he introduces the 4-7-8 breathing technique, which is designed to lower your heart rate. The technique is simple:

  • Breathe in for 4 seconds.
  • Hold for 7 seconds.
  • Exhale for 8 seconds.

Repeat this cycle gently to calm your body and mind.

As per any of our Video Breakdowns, we only try to capture the most important pieces of information in text; the rest can be garnered from the video itself:

Wishing you a thorough night’s rest!

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