If you’ve ever experienced insomnia, you probably know that waking up after you’ve fallen asleep can be a stressful situation. Although one of the most effective ways to go back to sleep is to clear your mind and relax, it’s nearly impossible not to feel anxious when you can't stay asleep through the night. However, knowing what to do in such a situation can help you fall back asleep, and can even prevent you from waking up unnecessarily. In this article, you’ll learn about some of the reasons that prevent you from staying asleep, discover the consequences of sleep loss, and become aware of some measures that you can take when you can't stay asleep.

Why You Can't Stay Asleep?

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If you find you can't stay asleep through the night, there may be several reasons contributing to this problem. Some lesser known reasons are explained below.

Rich and Heavy Dinners

heavy dinner

Having a rich and heavy dinner is one of the lesser-known causes of sleep loss. A dinner rich in fatty foods such as steak or fried foods makes your body work extra hard to digest the food, causing difficulty falling or staying asleep. To work around this, eat a lighter dinner earlier in the evening and you’ll never again complain that you can't stay asleep through the night.

High Caffeine Intake

Caffeine can remain in your body for up to 15 hours. So, even if you believe that your afternoon cup of coffee may not have any impact on your sleep cycle, you are mistaken. Also, evening cups of tea or coffee may be the reason you can't stay asleep. A better idea is to start your day off with a good dose of a caffeinated beverage and to opt for caffeine-free beverages later in the day.

Overpopulated Bed

snoring while sleeping

Sharing your bed with your spouse or your pet may be a common routine, but that could also be one of the reasons you can't stay asleep as the night progresses. This could be because your partner or your pet may unknowingly disturb your sleep cycle when they move around or snore. A good idea would be to opt for a bed that reduces motion transfer or to get a larger bed so you have more room.

Wrong Temperature Settings

Another very possible reason you can't stay asleep is that your bedroom’s temperature settings are not conducive to a comfortable sleeping environment. A room that’s too hot can make you sweat and wake up, while a space that’s too cold may disturb your sleep as you may need more covers. To strike the right balance, ensure that the temperature in your bedroom is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.

Overexposure to Blue Light

If you can't stay asleep, it could also be because you spend too much time in front of your TV or browsing through your smartphone before you hit the hay. Blue light that’s emitted from the screens of television sets and smartphones can disturb your sleep cycle, especially if you’re exposed to this light later in the day or early in the night. A better alternative would be to read a book or listen to some gentle music to unwind.

Consequences of Sleep Deprivation

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Sleep deprivation has many adverse effects on the body’s various systems such as the central nervous system, the cardiovascular system, and the digestive system. While these effects may not be immediately evident, your body will eventually give in to these problems in the long run if you don’t rectify this issue. Many of the consequences of sleep deprivation are explained below.

Causes Premature Aging

premature aging

You’ve probably seen that when you can't stay asleep for a few nights in a row, your skin becomes sallow and your eyes get puffy. Chronic loss of sleep can make things much worse because it encourages your body to release more of cortisol, a stress hormone. Excess levels of cortisol can break down the collagen present in the skin which is responsible for its smoothness and elasticity. This can make your skin age prematurely.

Makes You Gain Weight

Another reason why it’s important to correct your sleeping habits if you can't stay asleep is that loss of sleep can lead to weight gain. Recent research has revealed that inadequate sleep can trigger an increase in the levels of ghrelin (the hormone that stimulates hunger) and decrease the levels of leptin (which signals a feeling of fullness to the brain). This can make you overeat and can eventually lead to weight gain and obesity.

Decreases Your Sex Drive

reduction sex lifestyle

Sleep deprivation can also lead to a drastic reduction in your sex drive. When you can't stay asleep, you’ll experience many side effects such as sleepiness, increased stress and tension, and decreased levels of energy. All of these factors can contribute to a lower sex drive. A study also revealed that nearly half the men who suffer from sleep apnea (a respiratory issue that interrupts sleep) have low testosterone levels.

Impairs Cognitive Function

Lack of sleep also causes problems in your cognitive processes. For instance, sleep deprivation impairs attention, reduces your alertness, and makes it difficult for you to focus on your tasks through the day. It can also adversely affect your ability to reason through issues and resolve problems effectively, thus reducing your efficiency while at work. Inadequate sleep also results in difficulty remembering and recalling information.

Increases Risk of Various Diseases

heart failures

Chronic sleep loss can also be dangerous because it can increase your risk of suffering from several diseases such as heart failure, heart attacks, heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, and even diabetes. Long-term insomnia should not be taken lightly, and if you find that you can't stay asleep for several nights in a row, it’s best to have the problem treated so you don’t fall victim to any life-threatening conditions.

What to Do When You Keep Waking Up at Night

If you wake up in the middle of the night, it can be difficult to fall back asleep. Fortunately, some of the following tips can help you work around this issue.

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Try Not to Turn On the Lights

If you wake up during the night, it can be tempting to turn on the lights and watch a movie or catch up on your reading. However, doing so will only push you further away from falling back asleep. It’s best to keep the room dark because darkness helps your body reach a restful state more easily. In case you need to use the bathroom, turn on as few lights as possible so your body doesn’t wake up entirely.

Divert Yourself from the Clock

Looking at the clock is another thing that’s impossible to resist when you wake up halfway through the night. When you can't stay asleep, one of the first things you’ll probably do is check the time on your smartphone or on your alarm clock. This can induce anxiety about the short span of time that’s left till you need to wake up and begin your day. Thus, try to resist the temptation to do this and keep your alarm clock facing the wall so you don’t accidentally notice the time.

Listen to Some Music

You may be used to picking up a book when you can't stay asleep, hoping that reading may make you feel sleepy and lull you back into slumber. However, this also means that you’ll have to turn on the light which can be counterintuitive. Instead, play some soft music and keep the lights off so your body finds it easy to relax and unwind. Certain tunes and sounds (like the sound of rain) can also help you fall asleep quickly.

Think Relaxing Thoughts

relaxing woman

It’s quite impossible not to get anxious if you’re tossing around awake in the middle of the night. However, this only makes you stay awake longer and makes falling back asleep more difficult. Instead, consciously try to steer your thoughts away from stressful ideas and focus on something pleasant. Think of some fantasies or happy memories you may have — let your creative, right side of the brain take over.

Check the Ambience

If you’re the kind of person who usually has no trouble falling or staying asleep, your room’s ambience could be obstructing your sleep cycle. Check if there’s any unusual sound that’s disturbing you and close your curtains to keep out any unwanted light. Ensure that your room’s temperature is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, and then head back to bed to see if you can fall asleep more easily.


Sleep issues may not cause much concern when they first begin to occur, and it’s not uncommon for people to brush them off and let their insomnia go untreated, instead hoping they’ll resolve the issue themselves over time. However, if you find that you can't stay asleep despite taking the above measures, it’s advisable to visit a physician and seek medical help. Timely medical intervention can prevent chronic sleep loss from giving rise to several other chronic or life-threatening diseases.

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