Sleep is essential for us all to act like fully functioning humans. Without it, we can end up feeling pretty grumpy and this sleep deprivation can actually have some long term effects on your physical health. One in three of us suffers from poor sleep, so how does this explain why you may be waking up at 3am every night? Express.co.uk finds out why we wake up in the middle of the night, and just how much sleep a person really needs.
How much sleep do you really need?
You may have heard the average adult needs about eight hours of sleep each night – and you’d be right.
but what’s important is that it’s eight hours of good quality sleep, not just eight hours of being in bed, tossing and turning.
Some of you may need to sleep a bit more than this, and some less, so it’s important to find what works for you.
If you’re waking up tired, or you find yourself crying out for a nap in the middle of the day, you may need to up how long you’re sleeping each night.
Lack of sleep can often cause fatigue, shortness of temper and a lack of focus.
But after several nights of no sleep, your brain can fog, leaving you finding it hard to concentrate and you may begin to find this affecting your mental health.
Sleep deprivation can also make you prone to serious medical conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
If you’re waking often in the night or find yourself wide eyed at 3am, you may be concerned. So here’s some signs to look out for that could be causing your midnight wake up call.
Why am I waking up at 3am?
If you’re not getting enough sleep, there’s only one way to compensate and that’s by getting more sleep.
The NHS says: “It won’t happen with a single early night. If you’ve had months of restricted sleep, you’ll have built up a significant sleep debt, so expect recovery to take several weeks.
“Starting on a weekend, try to add on an extra hour or 2 of sleep a night. The way to do this is to go to bed when you’re tired, and allow your body to wake you in the morning (no alarm clocks allowed!).
“Expect to sleep for upwards of 10 hours a night at first. After a while, the amount of time you sleep will gradually decrease to a normal level.”
But if you’re struggling to drop off, ‘getting more sleep’ may be more difficult than it sounds.
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There are several reasons you could be waking up in the middle of the night or struggling to get back to sleep. Express.co.uk breaks down the five most simple explanations – and the five signs you should be think about tackling to ensure you are sleeping enough.
If you find yourself struggling to drop off tonight, it may mean you haven’t been active enough during the day.
Make sure to try and get your 10,000 steps in every day.
The NHS also recommends doing at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week.
2. Put your phone down
Studies show that putting down your phone, tablet or laptop for at least half an hour before bed can help you drift off.
The UK Sleep Council says: “The blue light hinders melatonin production and the content stimulates the brain making it feel more alert.”
3. Cut down on sugar
Regularly eating too much sugar can be a cause for you naturally waking at 2am to 3am each morning.
As well as being bad for your health, too much sugar can affect your sleep. This is because while you’re sleeping your blood sugar drops so your body rouses you to get your attention.
Cut down on artificial sugars in your foods and drinks to sleep through the night.
4. Check your mental health
If you’ve found yourself feel down or stressed, this can be a cause of your lack of sleep.
The NHS says: “If you often lie awake worrying about tomorrow, set aside time before bed to make a list for the next day. This can help put your mind at rest.”
5. Invest in a new mattress
You should replace your mattress every seven to eight years. While it may sound excessive,
a £1,000 bed over seven years only works out at 20p per night.
Think about your bed size too – most couples in the UK have a double bed, but it might be time to switch to kingsize.
Why? Because a standard double bed at 4ft 6in gives each person just 2ft 3in of space – that’s less than a baby in a cot – according to the Sleep Council.