We’ve all been there: one minute you’re getting the best night of your life, the next you’re waking up, uncomfortable and can’t go back to bed. Waking up in the middle of the night is common and normal, but it can become very troublesome at times. If you don’t know what it might be, check out the possible reasons.

Everyone needs a good night’s sleep to function properly the next day. Some people manage to function for only a few hours of sleep, while others may need 8 to 9 hours. The requirement of a good night’s rest for a human adult is around 7 to 8 hours of sleep.

Waking up in the middle of the night may have these reasons

This list does not include sleep loss as a result of being a new parent, or the natural course of aging, where sleep loss is to be expected. The following 8 explanations may be the reason why you are waking up in the middle of the night .

Temperature problems

The optimal room temperature for the human body during sleep should be between 60 and 67 degrees F (or 15 to 19 C). One reason you might wake up in the middle of the night is because your body is too hot or too cold. Cold temperatures make muscles stiff, and this can be painful at times. Warm temperatures can cause excessive sweating and hot flashes.


“Nocturia” is the condition described by the International Continence Society , as the complaint of frequent urination during the night. Two causes can be due to hormonal imbalance or bladder problems. The most common cause of waking up , however, is having too much to drink before going to sleep. Try to avoid drinking excessive amounts of fluids in the hours before sleep.

Noise pollution

Noise pollution can come from any number of sources. Snoring from a spouse may be the most obvious, but other sources of noise pollution could include sirens, noisy neighbors, old pipes, or even the engine in your kitchen refrigerator. To reduce noise pollution, the first solution is to buy a good pair of earplugs. You can also try noise-canceling white noise devices, including a fan, that helps you not easily wake up in the middle of the night .

Alcohol consumption

It is an old women’s tale that an alcoholic beverage before bed can help you sleep, yet modern science has shown this to be the opposite of the truth. Drinking can help you sleep soundly, but as the body processes alcohol in the bloodstream, it is giving the body extra work to do. Your sleep will be less restful and will make you move a lot.

Sleep apnea

This is a common problem in men, especially those over 50, however sleep apnea can affect anyone with obstructed airflow. Your body wakes you up as a survival mechanism when your snoring or airway obstruction doesn’t provide you with enough oxygen. On rare occasions, sleep apnea can lead to death. Treatment may include use of a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine, weight loss, smoking cessation, or, in some cases, nasal surgery.

Depression or anxiety

An overactive mind (especially caused by anxiety or depression) is often the culprit when you wake up in the middle of the night. Nightmares or panic attacks can wake you up. These feelings keep you awake as your mind panics and focuses on your lack of sleep. If you are losing sleep due to anxiety or depression, always seek the help of a professional. Cognitive behavior therapy, medication, or relaxation techniques can be used for treatment.

Restless Leg Syndrome

RLS is a syndrome that can cause unpleasant sensations in the feet and legs. These symptoms include the sensation of insects crawling on the legs, pain or throbbing of the muscles. Some may experience similar symptoms in other parts of the body. Massage, exercise, hot baths, and temperature solutions can help. For more severe cases, a medical professional can provide additional measures.


Dinner may have been nice at the time, but now you’re suffering from acid reflux. In more severe cases, you may be diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is a very common condition in adults. To avoid this problem, avoid heavy meals before bed, acidic drinks such as soda, coffee or orange juice, and alcohol.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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