Do you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep?
Read Ted’s story:

Ted was exhausted. He seemed to wake every night after only 3 or 4 hours sleep. He knew it wasn’t enough. He woke up tired. He went to work tired. He came home tired. and then, it started all over again.

What could he do?

Read Dr. Lamont’s advice ……..

Dr Allison Lamont

Dr Allison Lamont

“Ted, if it happens often – and I can see that it does – it’s time for a medical check-up. You are consistently tired and not functioning well at work during the day, so you need to find out if your sleep issues may have a medical cause. Some of these might include a cough, sleep apnea, a cardiac rhythm problem that gives the sensation of your heart beating rapidly or getting up to urinate, which could be a sign of diabetes. These are the worst-case scenario but you need to check them out.

It’s quite likely though, that setting up better sleep habits for yourself can help solve the problem.

Dr. Lamont told Ted that “Some patients who’ve suffered insomnia for a while wake up and become so angry, frustrated and aroused that they can’t fall asleep. And worrying about being awake only makes the problem worse!”

She suggested Ted check out this list of possibilities to see if there were some he could change for the better.

  1. A loud pet or a snoring bed-mate can be #1 on the list. Tactful discussions are in order and some retraining for the pet!
  2. During sleep, nicotine or alcohol levels fall which can cause people to wake up. Avoid alcohol before bedtime and if you are still a smoker, consider – seriously – quitting now.
  3. If heartburn or acid reflux is keeping you awake, avoid heavy or spicy meals before trying to sleep.
  4. Naps during the day make unbroken sleep at night even more of a problem. If you need to ‘close your eyes’ during the day or evening, make sure it is more no longer than 20 minutes.
  5. If you wake up at night and find that you still cannot get back to sleep after 20 minutes, do not lie there in anguish staring at your clock. Get out of bed and do something that distracts and relaxes you, like reading a book. Then return to bed when you feel sleepy.

If none of these action steps help and the problem persists for more than a few weeks, Dr. Lamont advises that a sleep specialist who can investigate further may be needed. Cognitive behavioural therapy or medication have certainly helped others but try to non-prescription solutions first.

For more information about Sleep, check out Sleep quiz – True or False, Tired of not sleeping? and the NIH Guide to Sleep