If you’re frequently waking up in the middle of the night, it’s not just a nuisance — it can be bad for your health.
Here are 11 common reasons people have trouble sleeping through the night, according to sleep specialists. Some are sleep-related behaviors that you can address on your own, while others may mean it’s time to talk to your doctor.
Your chronic pain might be making it hard to sleep
Sleep is closely intertwined with pain — especially chronic pain, according to the Western Australia Department of Health. People with chronic pain may find it more difficult to get quality sleep and experience problems with both falling asleep and staying asleep. Talk to your doctor if you have chronic pain and frequently have trouble sleeping.
You may need to adjust your sleeping temperature
“People underestimate how their sleep environment and behaviors can impact their sleep,” Rachel Salas, an associate professor of neurology and a sleep-disorders expert at Johns Hopkins Medicine, told INSIDER.
She wrote for Johns Hopkins that temperatures between 75 degrees and 54 degrees work best for most people and that lower temperatures are better for sleep because they mimic your body’s temperature, which falls to its lowest level when you sleep.
Your mattress and bedding could be letting you down
Salas wrote that mattresses that are too firm can cause stiffness and back pain. She recommends ones that are slightly softer and said it’s also important to choose a comfortable pillow that’s supportive for your head and neck. Make sure you’re washing your sheets often and keeping your bed clean and inviting.
Your partner might be noisy or disruptive
Suzan E. Jaffe, a board-certified doctor of sleep medicine, wrote for the National Sleep Foundation that if the person you’re sharing a bed with snores or is restless, that could keep you up. If you can’t sleep through your partner’s snoring, she recommended sleeping in separate bedrooms, seeing if your partner can learn to sleep on their side, or getting a CPAP machine.
She said that if the problem is bad enough that you have to move to another room in the middle of the night, your partner should see a sleep doctor.
Your stomach could be responsible
If you’re too hungry, too full, or have acid reflux, it could wake you up in the middle of the night, wrote sleep-medicine specialist Rita Aouad of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. If you have acid reflux, you can try simple changes like standing up straighter or adjusting your diet or talk to your doctor about medications.
You could have an inconsistent sleep cycle
Salas told INSIDER people should concentrate on making sleep a priority. One way to do this: “Be consistent with bed time and awakening time.”
“I can’t stress the importance of maintaining a consistent sleep wake schedule every day of the week (including holidays and weekends),” she wrote for a Reddit ask-me-anything post. “It is not a luxury — SLEEP is a basic human need.”
Hormonal or blood-glucose fluctuations may be wreaking havoc on your sleep
If you have diabetes, you’re already aware of how your blood-sugar levels can fluctuate. However, Aouad wrote, it’s important to check with your doctor if you suspect that either blood-sugar or hormonal fluctuations might be interfering with your sleep.
Light exposure from electronic devices could be interfering with your biological clock
“Bright lights hinder sleep,” Salas wrote. “Light is a strong regulator of our biological clock and helps to keep us awake during the day. Keep your bedroom dark when you head to bed. Avoid bright lights if you wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, or use a flashlight if you need to get up from bed.”
Your pets or other family members might be waking you up
A study published in 2017 found that most people slept relatively well with pets, though better when the pet wasn’t on the bed. If they’re on the bed and you’re a light sleeper, their movements could wake you up, or the added heat from their body could be making the bed too hot for you to comfortably sleep. If you think your pet is contributing to your sleep troubles, don’t let them sleep on the bed.
If your toddler is waking up too early and it’s disrupting your sleep, Today’s Parent suggested that it may indicate your child is ready for a change of their own — try putting them to bed later or having them take fewer naps.
You could have an undiagnosed sleep disorder
“Sleep disorders are often undiagnosed — and thus, untreated,” Salas told INSIDER. She said there are over 80 sleep disorders that specialists treat — sleep apnea, which most people have heard of, is far from the only one.
The only way to get treatment and start to see symptoms improve is to get a correct diagnosis. Talk to your doctor.
You may have anxiety or depression
Anxiety and depression and insomnia often feed off each other. Healthline reported that it might be difficult to identify which symptom came first because they’re so frequently intertwined. A doctor or mental-health professional can recommend treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy.