19 Easy Ways to Fall Back Asleep After Waking Up in the Middle of the Night

We’ve all been there—it’s dark, quiet, and you’re tired, but you’re still constantly tossing and turning, only to finally fall asleep minutes before the alarm goes off! Waking up throughout the night isn’t just frustrating; it also seriously impacts your energy levels. This article focuses on 19 scientifically proven methods that may help you drift back off more easily.

Embrace the Darkness

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Resist the urge to reach for your phone or turn on the lights. Spindle Mattress says, “When it’s dark, your body produces more of the hormone melatonin, which makes you sleepy. It prevents you from waking up during the night.” Even the smallest amount of light can suppress melatonin production, so keep your bedroom pitch black for optimal sleep induction.

Relax Your Body and Mind

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Harvard Health recommends progressive muscle relaxation to induce sleep. Tense and relax your muscles, starting from your toes and gradually working your way up. Combine this with deep, slow breathing exercises to quieten your mind. Research suggests this technique is one of the most effective methods for falling asleep.

Avoid Stimulating Activities

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It’s tempting to alleviate the frustration and boredom of lying awake in bed by watching television, checking work emails, or scrolling through social media. Yet such activities increase alertness, light levels, and mental wakefulness, making it difficult to fall asleep. Lying peacefully in bed and relaxing your mind is still restful—and you’re far more likely to drop off like that!

Cool Things Down

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Because we are diurnal animals, humans feel sleepiest after a dip in body temperature (signaling nightfall). Sleep Advisor recommends keeping your bedroom cool but comfortable at around 60–67°F. A hot environment can disrupt sleep cycles, preventing deep and prolonged sleep while also making it difficult to fall asleep initially.

Try Mindful Meditation

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Mindfulness involves focusing your attention on the present moment—like what you can feel, hear, and smell. Thinking only about the smoothness of your sheets or the smell of your laundry detergent helps quieten racing thoughts and worries and promotes relaxation, making it easier to fall asleep. This technique has proven effective at improving sleep quality as well as reducing stress and anxiety.

Listen to Calming Sounds

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Ideally, we need absolute quiet to fall asleep, but that isn’t always possible, particularly in busy urban areas. Try using soothing nature sounds, white noise, or gentle music (without lyrics) to mask distracting external noises that might disrupt your sleep. Studies show that listening to calming sounds reduces stress and decreases the time it takes to drift off.

Establish a Regular Sleep Schedule

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We are creatures of habit, and it helps to pay attention to our circadian rhythms, so aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. This helps regulate your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle and makes it easier to fall asleep predictably and wake up feeling refreshed.

Avoid Heavy Meals and Alcohol Before Bed

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The Sleep Health Foundation states that while large meals and alcohol can make us feel sleepy initially, they often result in shorter sleep cycles and greater chances of nighttime awakenings. If a rumbling stomach keeps you awake, try a light, easily digestible snack (like fruit) before bed, and avoid drinking alcohol for several hours before bedtime.

Only Get Out of Bed If Necessary

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Suppose you’ve been lying awake for over 20 minutes without success or are becoming increasingly stressed and frustrated. In those situations, engaging in a quiet, relaxing activity in a different room might be best—with the lights down low. Avoid blue light from screens, but do try meditation, reading, or listening to ‘chilled-out’ music.

Limit Caffeine Consumption

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Avoid consuming coffee, strong tea, Coca-Cola, or energy drinks in the hours leading up to bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant, so it makes you more alert, active, and jittery—not exactly conducive to falling asleep! Instead, opt for herbal teas, juices, or decaffeinated beverages later in the day.

Fix the Underlying Causes

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If you’re experiencing sleep problems regularly, consider seeking professional help, especially if you suffer from stress, anxiety, or depression. Certain physical medical conditions and chronic pain can also impact sleep quality, so get a diagnosis and treatment plan to help combat any underlying issues.

Have a Bedtime Routine

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It may sound like something only a child needs, but a predictable, relaxing bedtime routine can mentally and physically prepare anyone for the ‘falling asleep’ process. Try taking a warm bath, reading a book, listening to calming music, or practicing gentle stretches for at least 30 minutes before bedtime to signal that sleep is coming.

Avoid Napping

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If you’re having trouble sleeping, daytime naps can be a tempting way to combat exhaustion. Try to resist the urge to sleep at any time other than nighttime. If you must nap, keep it short (20–30 minutes) and as early as possible. This will promote a predictable, prolonged sleep cycle and ensure you are tired enough for a full night’s sleep.

Make Sure Your Bed is Comfortable

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Investing in a comfortable, supportive mattress, good pillows, and soft bedding that keeps you at the right temperature is essential for a good night’s rest. Being uncomfortable, even trivially, focuses your mind on this discomfort and stops you from becoming relaxed enough to fall asleep. An uncomfortable bed also makes you more likely to wake up again later.

Limit Fluids

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While you don’t want to be dying of thirst, drinking excessive fluids close to bedtime can lead to the obvious—nighttime awakenings to use the bathroom. Avoid consuming large amounts of liquids, especially diuretics like coffee or alcohol, in the hours leading up to sleep. If you feel parched in the night, try sipping a glass of water on your bed stand.

Exercise Regularly

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Those who engage in regular physical activity fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep for longer. Don’t engage in strenuous activity before bedtime, but ensure your daily routine includes at least 30 minutes of exercise that leaves you out of breath. This is great for overall health, including feeling exhausted and relaxed enough to fall asleep easily.

Be Patient and Consistent

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Getting irritated or angry about sleeplessness will only worsen the problem, so try to remain calm, rational, and patient. Improving sleep quality takes time and consistency, so you may need to persevere with good habits before seeing results. Try not to get discouraged if the results aren’t immediate or guaranteed every night!

Manage Stress

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The Mayo Clinic says, “Being stressed can cause short-term insomnia. Major or long-lasting stress can lead to long-term insomnia.” While it may be impossible to remove stress entirely, avoid stressful activities (like phone calls with difficult people or checking up on work tasks) before bedtime. Instead, try breathing, yoga, or meditation.

Seek Professional Help

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If you’ve tried these strategies and continue to experience frequent bouts of wakefulness, you should consult a sleep specialist or other experienced healthcare professional. They can help identify any underlying medical conditions and prescribe medication that can help you get more rest.

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