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Falling asleep can be challenging, but actually staying asleep can be even harder. Chances are, you don’t have an uninterrupted sleep every single night. While this may sound like a problem, it isn’t necessarily always a bad thing.
There are two different types of disturbances that cause sleep breaks: natural and external disturbances.
Your body naturally wakes you up when something is wrong, whether that is because you are sick, need to go to the bathroom, or your body is too hot or cold. This is your body’s way of making sure you stay healthy. If you weren’t awakened, you could face anything from a UTI to heat exhaustion. For example, many people get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. This isn’t as much of a problem as you think since the body wakes you up at the right time between sleep stages. In other words, you aren’t awakened during deep sleep, so it’s significantly easier to wake up and fall back asleep. Still, it can be annoying to wake up naturally during the night. You can improve your sleep and lessen sleep breaks by ensuring your room is a comfortable temperature each night and reducing the amount of water you drink an hour or less before bed.
External forces such as screaming babies, noisy neighbors, and an accidental kick in the shin from a partner all interrupt sleep. When an outside force is causing you to wake up, the sleep disturbance is unnatural and thus an issue. Since it isn’t your body that’s waking you up, you’ll have a more difficult time falling back asleep. Falling back asleep may also prove harder because you’re more likely to be awakened during a cycle of deep sleep by external forces as opposed to natural ones. Additionally, it’s easy to solve natural sleep disturbances because once you go to the bathroom or grab an extra blanket, you can usually go right back to sleep. However, external disturbances that suddenly interrupt sleep jolt your brain into activity as you piece together what exactly woke you up. Often, our minds tend to wander when this happens, making it more difficult to fall asleep. You can minimize external sleep disruptions by using ear plugs and a sleep mask at night. These items will block out a lot of factors in your sleep environment that could wake you up during the night.
Waking up during the night can be annoying, but when your body is waking you up, it’s to ensure your own good health. In the end, we all want uninterrupted sleep. Try a sleep tracker to help minimize sleep disturbances. With increased understanding of sleep and the ability to see how often you wake up during the night, you’ll be able to sleep better.