Trouble Sleeping? Waking up at 3am? This One is For You

Leisure, Lifestyle, Mental Health

Do you find it a struggle when it comes to going to sleep? Even when you do manage to sleep, do you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night? Sleep problems can not only be incredibly frustrating, but they can affect our ability to function.

Whatever sleep issues you’re facing, it’s important to try everything you can to solve the problem, because getting enough rest is crucial for your short and long term health. Here we’ll look into detail about the science of sleep, common sleep issues, and how to get a great night’s rest. Let’s get started!

 

What Does it Mean to Get a Good Night’s Sleep?

It’s a very obvious point to make that sleep is important, but what actually constitutes a good night of sleep? Well, the answer is different for everyone, but generally from the ages of 18 to 60 you need at least 7 hours of sleep per night, with 8 hours being ideal. Anything below this and you may start to get symptoms of sleep deprivation. If anything, make sure to at least give yourself the chance to get 8 hours of sleep. This means getting in bet at 11pm if you are waking up at 7am.

Not only do you need to get your 7 hours, but they need to be undisturbed in order to get a good night’s sleep. With disrupted sleep, you will struggle to correctly go through the different sleep cycles that are vital to good rest. It’s a good idea to use a sleep calculator to check just how much you are sleeping.

 

The Different Stages of Sleep

How many stages of sleep are there? Well, there are technically 5 stages of sleep, but one of those is being awake. Of the four sleeping stages, three of them are in the NREM (non-rapid eye movement) state, and one in REM (rapid eye movement). Let’s have a closer look what are the stages of sleep:

  • Stage 1 – This is simply the stage between being awake and falling asleep, where your body starts to relax and your heart rate slows.
  • Stage 2 – The second stage accounts for the majority of your sleep. Here your brain waves slow down, and your body temperature reduces.
  • Stage 3 – This is your deepest stage of sleep, which is also known as slow-wave sleep. Your brain waves slow down even further, and this stage is crucial for rest and recuperation. Stages 1, 2 and 3 are all NREM sleep, which stands for non-rapid eye movement.
  • Stage 4 – REM stands for rapid eye movement because in this stage, your brain is more active and your eyes are moving rapidly under your eyelids. Breathing and heart rate increase during this stage, which is important for restoration and memory consolidation. This is also the stage of sleep when you dream.

 

Rapid Eye Movement (REM)

The REM sleep definition is the 4th stage of sleep where your eyes are moving rapidly, and you are more likely to dream.

During the REM stage of sleep, your mind is more active. But if you’re wondering how long is a REM cycle, then you may be surprised to know it’s only an average of about 10 minutes. However, these periods can progressively get longer in each sleep cycle.

Some people can develop REM sleep disorder, where they physically act out their dreams, but for most people the REM stage of sleep is quite peaceful.

 

How Much REM Sleep Should You Get?

How much REM sleep do you need? Well, the exact answer can change from one person to the next, but in general you should be spending about 25% of your sleep time in an REM cycle, which should account for around 90 to 120 minutes.

If you’re wondering how to get more REM sleep, then you just need effective rest to allow your brain to repeatedly go through the sleep cycles. You can always use an REM sleep calculator to see how much rest you are getting.

 

Do You Dream During REM Sleep?

It’s a common myth that you only dream during REM sleep, but it does account for the majority of our dreams. REM is likely where you’ll have your most vivid and powerful dreams, but you can also dream during NREM sleep.

 

REM Sleep vs Deep Sleep

When looking at deep sleep vs REM, it’s important to know that they are two different stages. Deep sleep is the 3rd stage of sleep, and is called NREM . REM is the stage after that, where you’re not in quite as much of a deep sleep and your brain is more active.

 

REM Sleep Waves

In terms of brain activity, there isn’t much difference between REM sleep and being awake. Your brain can actually paralyze your body here to prevent you from acting out your dreams, but as we’ve seen with REM sleep disorder, sometimes that doesn’t happen.

This REM sleep stage is also important for setting memories. These beta and gamma brain waves replay and consolidate new memories, helping to make them permanent. This is why REM is vital for effective cognitive function. It is also why students who have a big test the next day should go to bed earlier, that way all the studying they did the day prior really sets in.

 

 

Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM)

Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) sleep is a stage of sleep in which the eyes do not move rapidly under closed eyelids. This stage is also known as deep sleep, but only in the 3rd stage. It is characterized by slow brain waves and a decreased level of consciousness. Here you’re less likely to dream, but it’s still possible.

 

REM vs NREM

REM and NREM are two different stages of sleep. While REM sleep is characterized by rapid eye movements and increased brain activity, NREM sleep is characterized by slow brain waves and a decreased level of consciousness. Most of the body’s restorative processes occur during NREM sleep, but both are vital to effective rest.

 

How Much NREM Sleep Should You Get?

The amount of NREM sleep that a person needs varies depending on age. You should be spending approximately 75% to 80% of your night in NREM sleep, but most of that is going to be in stage 2.

Generally, healthy adults need around 60-120 minutes of 3rd stage NREM sleep per night. Overall, you should be spending around six hours per night in all the stages of NREM sleep.

 

Do You Dream During NREM Sleep?

Yes, it is not uncommon to dream during NREM sleep but here your brain activity is going to be reduced and your bodily functions are going to be more suppressed. Due to this, the dreams are likely to be less vivid and more likely to be forgotten.

 

NREM Sleep vs Deep Sleep

NREM stage 3 sleep and deep sleep are the same stage of sleep. Deep sleep is characterized by slow brain waves and a decreased level of consciousness. During deep sleep, the body repairs and regenerates tissues, builds bone and muscle, and strengthens the immune system.

 

Sleep Disorders and Issues That Can Keep You Up at Night

There are many sleep disorders which can not only be mentally draining, but can also take a physical toll. Some of these sleep deprivation symptoms are mental conditions, whereas others are physical.

If you’re wondering why you cant sleep or are constantly waking up at 3am, it’s likely that one of these disorders may be an issue. If so, it’s always best to see a medical professional rather than self-diagnose.

 

Insomnia

Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. It can be caused by various factors such as stress, anxiety, depression, medications, and underlying health conditions. Insomnia can result in fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating during the day.

There is no specific insomnia treatment since it can depend on the root cause. We discuss some sleeping aids below, and a lot of them can help. We cannot stress enough that it’s important to consult with your doctor about any sleeping issues.

 

Waking Up at 3am

Waking up at 3am can be a disorienting experience for many people. It is a time when the world is still and quiet, and the mind can easily wander into thoughts and worries. However, for some, it can be a peaceful and productive time of day. It is a time when creativity and inspiration can flow freely, and tasks can be accomplished without the distractions of the day. Some spiritual practices also recommend waking up at 3am as a time for meditation and reflection. Whatever the reason for waking up at 3am, it is important to listen to your body and mind and respond accordingly to ensure a healthy and productive day ahead.

 

Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless Leg Syndrome is a neurological disorder that causes an uncomfortable sensation in the legs, leading to an irresistible urge to move them. The symptoms of restless legs typically worsen during periods of rest or inactivity and can disrupt sleep, leading to insomnia and daytime sleepiness.

In terms of restless leg syndrome causes, it can be due to a wide number of factors such as genetics, low iron levels, chronic diseases, and medications. Restless leg syndrome can also be common in pregnancy.

The best restless leg syndrome treatment can vary depending on what works for you, and also the cause. Medications are available for more serious cases, but lifestyle changes can help too, such as avoiding caffeine and exercising during the day.

If your iron levels are low, then supplements can help, and other treatment options include massage/stretching, compression socks and regular exercise.

 

Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by interrupted breathing during sleep. It occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open, leading to snoring and waking up repeatedly during the night.

The most common sleep apnea symptoms are loud snoring, momentarily stopping breathing, gasping for air, sleeping with mouth open, waking up with dry mouth, and also waking up with a headache. If you experience any of these symptoms, then it’s important to get medical help.

Unsurprisingly sleep apnea can result in fatigue and irritability, and it can also lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The treatment options are generally broken down into CPAP and non-CPAP solutions.

 

CPAP

This is the most common type of treatment as the best CPAP machine will provide a constant flow of air pressure into your mouth, which will keep your airways open.

However, CPAP isn’t the only sleep apnea machine. There is also BiPAP which delivers different pressure during in-and-out breaths, and APAP, which intelligently adjusts the pressure depending on your breathing patterns.

 

CPAP alternatives

There are several other alternative treatments for obstructive sleep apnea, such as:

  1. Oral appliances – This is a sleep aid, such as a sleep apnea mouth guard which repositions your tongue and jaw to keep your airway open.
  2. Sleep apnea surgery – Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) is a surgical procedure which involves removing tissue from the throat to widen the airway.
  3. Positional therapy – You can get a sleep apnea pillow which correctly positions you during sleep. This can be especially useful for those who get their worst sleep apnea symptoms when lying on their back.

 

Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety can cause difficulty falling or staying asleep. When the body is under stress, it produces cortisol, which can interfere with sleep by increasing alertness and reducing the ability to relax.

Anxiety can cause excessive worry and racing thoughts, leading to insomnia and a lack of restorative sleep. It’s important to focus on and solve the root cause/s of your stress and/or anxiety, such as making lifestyle changes that are causing stress, or attending therapy to try and help.

In the meantime, sleep medications should help but shouldn’t be seen as a long-term solution to your sleeping problems.

 

Leg Pain at Night

Many people get leg pain at night and think that it must be restless leg syndrome, but it’s far from the only cause. Let’s take a look at some potential issues:

  1. Peripheral artery disease (PAD) – PAD occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries, which reduces blood flow to the legs. This can cause pain, cramping, or numbness in the legs.
  2. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – DVT occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein, typically in the leg.
  3. Muscle cramps – Muscle cramps can occur for a variety of reasons, including dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and overuse of the muscles. They can cause sharp pain or spasms in the legs.
  4. Osteoarthritis – This is a degenerative joint disease that can cause pain and stiffness in the joints, including the knees and hips.
  5. Peripheral neuropathy – This condition effects the nerves in the legs and feet, causing numbness, tingling, and pain.
  6. As you can see, some of these conditions are quite serious, and if you’re experiencing leg pain at night then it’s best to get it checked out, rather than just trying to cope with it.

 

Leg Aches Night Wakes

Leg aches at night, also known as nocturnal leg cramps, can be a frustrating and painful experience. They are characterized by sudden and intense muscle contractions in the legs, often occurring during periods of inactivity, such as while sleeping. Causes can include dehydration, muscle fatigue, poor circulation, and certain medications. Stretching, massaging, and applying heat or cold can help alleviate the pain. Practicing good sleep hygiene, such as avoiding caffeine and maintaining a regular sleep schedule, may also help prevent leg aches at night. However, if the cramps persist, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

 

Mouth Breathing

Mouth breathing during sleep time can be a sign of several sleep disorders, including sleep apnea. As we’ve seen, in sleep apnea, the airway becomes partially or completely blocked, causing breathing to stop and start repeatedly throughout the night.

Mouth breathing can also cause dry mouth, sore throat, and other symptoms, as it can lead to a reduction in the amount of saliva produced during sleep.

While often caused by sleep apnea, there are many other potential causes of mouth breathing. Let’s take a look at what they are:

  • Nasal congestion or obstruction
  • Allergies or sinusitis
  • Enlarged tonsils or adenoids
  • Deviated septum
  • Asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Anxiety or stress

 

Teeth Grinding – How to Stop Clenching Jaw

Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is a sleep disorder characterized by the clenching or grinding of one’s teeth during sleep. It can be caused by stress, anxiety, or an abnormal bite, and can lead to headaches, jaw pain, and tooth damage over time.

In severe cases, it may require treatment with a mouth guard for sleeping, or other dental appliance, to protect the teeth and reduce the impact of grinding.

As with many other conditions on this list, when it comes to how to stop grinding teeth at night, it’s important to tackle the root cause. This can include treatment for stress and anxiety, which can be aided by medications.

 

Waking Up with Dry Mouth

Waking up with a dry mouth can be a symptom of several sleep disorders, including snoring, sleep apnea, and breathing through the mouth during sleep.

This can be due to a reduction in the amount of saliva produced during sleep, which can cause dryness, discomfort, and an increased risk of tooth decay. Drinking water before bed and using a humidifier in the bedroom can help alleviate symptoms.

 

What Exactly are the Causes of Snoring?

When looking at the causes of snoring, it’s important to know that it can be caused by a wide variety of reasons. This means that the best snoring solutions will depend on the root cause of your snoring.

Common causes of snoring include:

  • Your anatomy
  • Nasal and sinus problems
  • Sleep position
  • Obesity and body weight
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Smoking and other irritants
  • Medications and medical conditions
  • Aging and muscle tone

 

Snoring Remedies

If you want to stop snoring, then it’s important to know when it’s happening. For example, if you only snore after alcohol consumption, then you won’t need any special snoring remedies like a snoring mouth guard. However, for more serious conditions, such as sleep apnea, snoring surgery may be required.

Common snoring remedies:

  • Lifestyle changes
  • Anti-snoring devices
  • Positional therapy
  • Nasal strips and sprays
  • Oral appliances such as a snore guard or snoring mouthpiece
  • Surgery and medical procedures
  • Alternative therapies and natural remedies

 

How to Fall Asleep Quickly and Stay Sleeping

If you’re hoping to get a better night of sleep, there are thankfully many different solutions you can try. Here we’ll look at some of the most effective ones and hope you can find something that works for you. These are hopefully cheaper and more effective than going to an expensive sleep center or sleep clinic to get a diagnosis.

 

Melatonin

Melatonin is a natural hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness. It is produced by the pineal gland in the brain and released in response to darkness. It’s therefore clear to see why many people take melatonin for sleep.

Taking a melatonin supplement and other products, such as Neuro sleep drink, can help regulate the sleep-wake cycle, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. Many see this as the best sleep aid and the best alternative to prescribed medication.

This is also partly due to it not reacting to other medication. If you’re worried about melatonin and alcohol, or benadryl and melatonin, then you’ll be happy to know that it doesn’t interact with either of them.

There are many different melatonin products that you can use for a better night of sleep, such as:

  • Melatonin tablets or capsule
  • Melatonin gummies
  • Melatonin sprays
  • Melatonin creams
  • Melatonin tea
  • Melatonin diffusers

 

Sleep Meditation

Meditation can be a powerful tool for improving sleep quality. Sleep meditation involves focusing on the breath and allowing thoughts to pass without judgment. This can help quiet the mind and relax the body, making it easier to fall asleep. One of the most important aspects of meditating for sleep is being able to relax your muscles. Try to focus on relaxing every muscle in your body from head to toe, you will be surprised how many shoulder and face muscles you find are still active as you concentrate.

Try a guided sleep meditation app or YouTube video to help you get started. Many people also use deep sleep music, which can get them into a deep state of relaxation. The best sleep music or sleep meditation music depends on your personality, so try a few different things.

Some enjoy wave sounds for bedtime meditation, whereas others may prefer soft acoustic music. You can even try a sound machine for sleep, which will play white noise to drown out any distracting sounds.

 

Herbs for Sleep

There are several herbs that can promote relaxation and improve sleep quality. Chamomile tea, passionflower, valerian root, and lavender are all popular herbs for sleep. These herbs can be taken in supplement form, brewed into tea, or used as an essential oil in a diffuser.

 

Hot Bath

Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best. Instead of taking an over the counter sleep aid, why not try a hot bath! Taking a hot bath before bed can help relax the body and prepare it for rest. The warm water can help soothe sore muscles and relieve tension. Adding Epsom salt or essential oils like lavender can enhance the relaxation benefits. Try soaking for at least 20 minutes to allow the body to fully relax.

 

Warm Glass of Milk or Tea

A warm beverage can also help promote relaxation and improve sleep quality. Milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid that can increase serotonin levels in the brain, promoting relaxation.

As mentioned above with the herbs, you can make tea and get the benefits of the likes of chamomile, valerian root, and passionflower, as well as milk. However, avoid coffee and sugary drinks as they can interfere with sleep.

 

Final Thoughts

It’s absolutely vital to get a good night of sleep, but for many of us that’s easier said than done. It’s important to identify why you’re struggling to sleep properly, and then look at the treatment options available. We hope that you have gotten at least a couple good tips you can put to the test so you can get your beauty sleep.

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