Anyone who suffers from insomnia, obviously has trouble sleeping. However, there is not one definitive type of insomnia all insomnia sufferers experience. There are in fact several different types of insomnia that an insomnia sufferer may have to deal with.
Most people are aware of the type of insomnia that prevents sufferers falling asleep. This is sometimes called initial insomnia. But, there is another type of insomnia that causes sleeplessness through the night. This is middle-of-the-night insomnia.
Those who suffer from middle-of-the-night insomnia – also referred to as middle insomnia and maintenance insomnia – may fall asleep relatively quickly, but they will then wake up through the night, and find it incredibly difficult to fall back asleep.
WHAT CAUSES MIDDLE INSOMNIA?
When middle insomnia results in a restless night or a sleepless night, when it means an inability to sleep at night or results in a lack of sleep that leaves sufferers feeling unrefreshed in the morning, it can become a serious problem.
But in order to solve that problem, it’s essential to know what causes it. Just like initial insomnia, middle insomnia can have many causes, many of which start with sleep disruption.
Sleep disruption can often be a result of age. As we get older, our sleep tends to get lighter, which results in broken sleep at night. Similarly, women who are pregnant or going through menopause may suffer from disrupted sleep.
Sleep disruption may be also caused by a medical issue. Someone who is overweight, or who has sleep apnoea or chronic pain may suffer from disrupted sleeping. Similarly, the issue may be based in the brain. If someone is suffering from stress, depression or anxiety, insomnia will often go hand-in-hand with these issues.
Sleep disruption could also be associated with eating large meals or having too much sugar before bed, drinking alcohol or caffeine, or having too much screen time too close to bedtime. External factors can similarly disrupt sleep, such as sleeping in a room that’s too cold or too hot, hearing noises outside, or having a sleep partner who moves around a lot or snores.
WHEN SHOULD YOU START WORRYING ABOUT MIDDLE INSOMNIA?
Most people suffer from some kind of restlessness, sleeplessness or insomnia at some point in their lives. But when does it become something to worry about?
When dealing with insomnia, professionals often point to the rule of threes. If middle insomnia occurs at least three nights a week, where the sufferer stays awake for 30 minutes or more, and this lasts for at least 30 days, it may be time to seek help.
Until that point, there are some ways middle insomnia sufferers can stay asleep – and get back to sleep.
HOW TO STAY ASLEEP
Create the right environment for sleep: Ensure the bedroom is at a comfortable temperature, keeping it as cool as possible. Remove any clocks from the room, and use blackout blinds or curtains.
Prepare during the day: Avoid naps, take regular exercise, avoid caffeine after noon, and avoid large meals, sugar and alcohol several hours before bed. No screen time before bed.
Create a routine: This means waking up and going to bed at the same time each day, and also creating a relaxing sleep routine before bed, such as taking a warm shower or listening to classical music.
HOW TO GET BACK TO SLEEP
Try to relax your body: Use progressive muscle relaxation, working from your toes to your forehead, tensing each set of muscles in turn, holding for five seconds, then relax.
Stop clock-watching: For insomnia sufferers, it can be best to remove clocks from the bedroom. Clock-watching is likely to create more stress, making it even harder to fall back asleep.
Get up: If it feels like you’ve been awake for more than 20 minutes, get out of bed and go to another room. Lying in bed, worrying about not getting back to sleep can make the situation worse.
Do something uninteresting: Listen to relaxing music or read something uninteresting. When you start to feel sleepy, go back to bed.