Sleep issues can range from person to person. While some people struggle with the initial act of getting to sleep, others drift off without a problem, only to wake up in the middle of the night and find it impossible to drop back off again.
If you’re one of those people – one of the mid-night wakers – here’s a question for you: what’s the first thing you do when you wake up during the night?
If your automatic reaction to middle-of-the-night waking is to check the time, you’re certainly not the only one. But you’re also committing one of sleep expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan’s most basic sins for getting back to sleep.
Dr Ramlakhan, speaking at an event for Benenox Overnight Recharge, explained why checking the time is a sure-fire way to stop yourself from drifting back off.
“The simplest thing I would recommend is to stop looking at the time during the night,” the expert said.
“Don’t look at the time because the first thing you do is a calculation. You do a subtraction, and then you do a risk assessment, and by then you’re wide awake.”
And she’s completely right. Many of us check the time during the night because we want to work out how much longer we have left to sleep before we’re forced to get up. But the very act of looking at the time, then subtracting that away from your wake-up call time, is enough to put you right back into ‘wide awake’ territory.
Dr Ramlakhan explained that “when we sleep at night we go through stages of consciousness.” When we’re fully alert, we experience beta brain waves, while a more relaxed state would induce alpha waves.
“When you look at the clock, to do a mathematical calculation you have to bring yourself right up into beta waves, which makes it harder to come back down again,” advised the sleep expert.
To make it easier to stop checking the time, try leaving your phone in another room and turning your alarm clock so it’s facing away from you. Go on, give it a go. You’ll thank yourself when you sleep through the night like a well-trained baby.