People wake up about four times per night, on average. Most fall back to sleep quickly like nothing happened, and it isn’t a problem. But as age goes up, the number of awakenings can, too.
Older adults spend more time in the earlier, lighter sleep stages and less time in the deeper sleep stages. This makes them far more susceptible to stimuli that could lead to sleep disturbance.
Some of the common causes of awakenings include:
Noises: Traffic, creaks, partner’s movements, etc., can all create noise that can wake you up. An easy and effective fix is earplugs, which can reduce the sound that disrupts sleep.
Light: Light from the moon, streetlights, or even your clock can cause you to wake up. Eyeshades, also known as sleep masks, can be a calming and effective tool to remedy this problem. As far as fit goes, you want it loose enough so your eyelashes don’t rub against it.
Bathroom: Even though your body is timed to release most urine during the day, you may still have to get up during sleep to relieve yourself. You can limit the number of times you get up to pee by reducing fluid intake in the evenings and avoiding caffeine for 6 hours before bed time. Limiting evening alcohol is also a good idea.
If you wake up at night, give yourself time to fall back asleep. Don’t just reach for your phone, turn on the TV, or start reading.