Almost half of the millions of people residing on earth have sleep-related disorders. Most do not know about it and the rest do not care about it. Some suffer from falling asleep too soon and others suffer from impossibility of staying asleep.
To recognise what type of a sleeping disorder you suffer from, start keeping a sleeping diary. Only with through observations and analyses of your sleeping disorder can help you avoid somnipathies like sleep apnea, congestive heart failure and such fatal disorders.
What is waking up in the night medically?
Medically, waking up in the middle of the night is termed as ‘Middle Of The Night Insomnia (MOTN), Middle Insomnia, Middle of the night awakenings, nocturnal awakenings and Sleep maintenance insomnia’. The majority of the patients diagnosed with MOTN describe prolonged exhaustion, fatigue and Excessive Daytime Sleepiness, throughout their day. Waking up in the middle of the night is described as waking too early as well as the trouble of drifting back into sleep when woken up. Certain times, this can also be based on temporary pain or stress experienced during the day.
Why do you wake up in the middle of the night?
Perhaps from the habits of our caveman ancestors, who used to wake up twice (at least) every night to scour their caves for intruders and wild animals OR our own stressful everyday routines, there are many causes of waking up in the middle of the night.
Some reasons why people wake up mid-sleep are:
Pain or Arthritis:
– Pain stimulates the brain to wake the body up, instantly. A recurring pain that arises from occasional injuries or persistent arthritis is a common cause of waking up mid-sleep. It might arise from aching joints from an injury, arthritis or menstrual cramps, but when you are in pain, it is not only difficult to sleep, but also excruciating to stay awake.
Anxiety/ Stress/ Depression:
– Another omnipotent cause of MOTN is anxiety, stress or depression. If you discuss an emotionally heated up topic or have had a stressful day that you just can’t swipe off your head even when you hit the bed, it is inevitable to avoid somnipathy. In fact, some people never realize that they are depressed, throughout their lives and continue to fuel it persistently like aforementioned.
– Alcohol is a favourite sleep medication for many. However, the truth is, alcohol provides a mild sleep just for a short period of 3-4 hours, after which, the body is stirred awake. This is because Alcohol pushes the body into a non-REM sleep which stabilises the primary phase of sleep, but obstructs the secondary.
– Caffeine is another stimulant that jitters up the body. It is but common sense to avoid coffee before sleep.
– Tobacco use is also a major cause of mid-sleep awakenings as nicotine is also a stimulant that spurs the brain awake, thus making it tough to fall or stay asleep!
– Any substance use that consists of stimulating effects is an inevitable cause of MOTN. Hence, avoid the consumption of all stimulants, immediately before sleep.
Irregular Circadian Rhythm:
– Another important cause of why some people cannot stay asleep is because of their erratic internal clock or circadian rhythm. It might be due to the continuously changing work shifts and sleep schedule or other voluntary reasons, although the truth is that every unexpected shift in our circadian rhythm affects the bodily clock immensely. This can be due to the excess naps that you took during the daytime or due to a medical condition like pregnancy.
Sleep Apnea/ Breathing problems:
– Another important cause of this somnipathy is the fatal breathing problem called sleep apnea. When you suffer from sleep apnea, your upper airway is blocked due to a variety of reasons. This stops the oxygenation of blood, which sends a signal to the brain to jerk the body up with a choke or a gasp. If you have MOTN, it is tough to get back to sleep after this awakening.
Thirst/ Hunger/ Bowel movements:
– Another common reason that wakes one up, is due to rarely recurring activities like thirst, hunger or irregular bowel movements. This can end for the last time after you inadvertently fulfil it, but if it becomes a habit, you will develop a serious somnipathy.
Light and Heat:
– Exposing your eyes to artificial light like that of the blue lights of the smartphones (for Goodnight Tweets and FB posts) or bulbs of today is a serious threat to longer span of sleep.
– Alternatively, overheating also adds to this insomnia. Keep a foot out of the blanket when you sleep to avoid awakenings.
When to call the doctor?
Following are the critical symptoms of MOTN, which require immediate medical attention.
- Do you Wake up more than trice per night?
- Does it take more than 30-60 minutes to sleep?
- Has this somnipathy been happening for more than 30 days?
If your answer is a yes to any of the above, discuss the same with your doctor ASAP!
What are the little known serious risks behind Waking up in the middle of the night?
- Sleep Apnea: is a fatal disorder that stops breathing of a person temporarily for ten seconds, which forces awakening thereafter. 50% of the sleep apnea patients also suffer from nighttimes’ urination.
- Diabetes: Increased glucose in your kidney can also lead to excess urination at night.
- Congestive Heart Failure: During daytime, fluid retention occurs due to gravity and heart troubles;
- Senility: induces increased bowel movements or lower capacity of the bladder, which forces the person to wake up to pee.
- Neurological Disorders: when degeneration of the nervous system happens, chronic urination and extreme malfunction of the bladder is usual alongside it.
- Urinary Tract Infections: a patient suffering from UTI constantly suffers from the faux urge to pee.
- Obesity: has been known to produce obstructive tissues that aggravate sleep apnea. In addition, obesity also results in frequent urination, according to studies.
- Addiction: stimulants like coffee, alcohol, nicotine and sleep medications can disrupt the circadian rhythm of the body perpetually if neglected.
Apart from the above, various factors like having too much water or fluids before bed can also lead to midnight awakenings. If you observe the critical symptoms aforementioned, approach the doctor ASAP.