Waking up in the Middle of the Night

Bella Saratore

Sometimes restless nights are unavoidable. The business of life catches up to us as our thoughts race while we attempt to calm down. Occasionally a nightmare can disturb a deep sleep and create tension that is difficult to combat. We can lose hours of sleep if our slumber is disturbed and we cannot easily resume it. If you find yourself waking up and having a challenging time falling back asleep, try to implement these tasks into your routine as soon as you are woken up.


If you are in any discomfort, do not try to tough it out in the moment and just fall back asleep then. Do what you need to do to relieve yourself. Do not be afraid to go to the restroom if needed or take medication if it is appropriate. There is a stigma that getting out of bed will completely wake you up, and while moving around does not help everyone fall back asleep, it is ultimately better for falling asleep than staying in bed and being uncomfortable.


While this idea may seem obvious, focusing on your breaths is crucial to calming the mind and allowing it to remove outside distractions. Our thoughts can consume us and the best way to combat that is through focusing on mindless activities, such as your breath. Whether you enjoy thinking “Breathe in… Breathe out…” our counting each breath, try to keep your attention completely on that activity. If the mind wanders, avoid focusing on the outside thoughts, as that would create a snowball affect that makes the situation even worse.


Focusing on your breathing is a mindless activity. Something you can do that also falls under this category is to doodle. Whatever you want to sketch out, you can. Try to avoid drawing out anything that is too intricate, as this may potentially increase brain activity and have a negative impact on your drowsiness. Doodling simple designs, or even writing your own name (or any words you want as long as you avoid complicated phrases that make you overthink) over and over works as well. See what level of designs and writing works best for you and stick to it. Do not overcomplicate anything you put down on paper.

Make sure to avoid doodling on any digital media. The blue light from the screens will stimulate your mind and create the opposite affect of what you are looking for.



This last activity is a hit or miss. Some people find themselves swearing by getting up and moving around when you cannot fall asleep, while others advise against it. While there is no official answer to whether or not walking around helps you fall back asleep, we can assume that the help walking around provides varies from person to person. If over 30 minutes have passed and you do not feel drowsy, walking around might be the answer to help calm your nerves. Try to avoid exposure to bright lights as you move; if you have the space, walking around in your own room is a good option.

If this movement does not work for you, do not try and force it to. Instead, focus on the other ideas listed in this article.

Waking up at night is normal. The last thing you want to do is stress over the disruption and loss of sleep.

To achieve the best sleep possible, make sure to check out my other article on sleep, where I discuss ways to help improve initially falling asleep: https://saintjosephsquare.com/4258/student-life/the-struggle-to-fall-asleep/#