Why Do I Keep Waking Up At Night And How Can I Get Back To Sleep Again?

It’s the middle of the night and you’ve woken up.

It's the 3rd time this week you grumble to yourself. It’s still dark outside, good. No signs of early morning bird calls, great! Surely it’s not time to get up yet? You sigh and check the time, hoping that it’ll be a reasonable hour and you can go back to that lovely dream you were just having about a secret knitting circle for bandicoots. 2am, perfect, that’ll do nicely. Plenty of time. You sink into your bed and wish for sweet oblivion buuut nothing happens.

Time passes. You’re still awake and now all of life’s worries seemingly flood your mind one after the other. You check the time again. 3am. Devastating!

“Why aren’t I asleep yet?”

Good question, but don’t get stuck counting sheep! Enter Sleep City and turn population: ewe into population: you. Join us as we delve into some of the most common causes for waking up in the middle of the night and some methods on how you can get back to sleep again!


Let's start with some common sleep thiefs. Why might you be waking up in the first place? This depends on the individual and it's not necessarily a problem unless it happens often, but it's still worth exploring and being aware of. There's many multitudes of potential reasons for your rude awakenings, far more than we could ever cover here, but let's start with distractions.

Distractions like noises or lights should be the first to go. You may be able to sleep through them in the deeper first half of your sleep but if you’re constantly waking up in the middle of the night it might be best to deal with them. Try blackout curtains, sleep masks, or earplugs if removing distractions isn't an option!

Temperature can have a major effect on your sleeping habits. Too hot or too cold and you’ll be struggling all night to sleep. Ideally, your bedroom should be quiet, dark, and cool for the perfect sleeping environment. While the range is relatively large, you ideally want a room temperature of roughly 18c to foster that perfect sleep. To further aid in your endeavours, a nice warm shower or bath helps trigger the brain into thinking it’s time for bed by raising and then dropping your body temperature.

If you're finding it difficult to drop your body temperature, our amazingly cool Ice Pillows might be able to help! Forget flipping your pillow over to the cold side, with the Ice Pillow the cold side always stays nice and cool!

Nocturia or otherwise known as busting for the loo in the middle of the night after too many drinks. Frankly, it's far too cool of a word for that! Anyways, If you find this happening often your balance of water and electrolytes might be askew ooor you might just be drinking too much too close to bedtime. Add some sea salt to a small glass of water before going to bed and see if it helps, or just wistfully whisper the word ‘Nocturia’ to yourself over and over again until you doze off. Nocturia, Nocturia, Nocturia...

Drinking Alcohol before bed can have a powerful sedative-like effect on the human body, but once that alcohol has metabolized it can make for a terrible nights sleep. Generally, it’s advised to stop drinking about 3 hours before bedtime if you want the best of both worlds. Party (responsibly) on!

Caffeine is argubly even worse than alcohol for your sleep and it's the sleep-sin I’m personally most guilty of. Caffeine can mess with your ability to sleep for more than 6 hours after consumption! Assuming you work a 9 to 5 and aim to be asleep by around 10 or 11, many sleep experts recommend that people stop consuming caffeine as early as 2 in the afternoon. Will I take that last recommendation? No, I don't think I will.

Obesity and especially excess stomach fat can make breathing in general considerably harder for the human body and this issue is only worsened when lying down. Worse still, as a lack of sleep has been linked to overeating the next day it can turn into a vicious cycle of increased weight gain coupled with increasingly bad sleep quality! Obesity can also lead to sleep apnoea and thyroid problems, which can further aggravate sleeping issues.

Breathing problems like sleep apnoea may be having a massive impact on your sleep quality without you even being aware of it. If you feel like you get a solid 8 hours a day, but still suffer from typical symptoms of sleep deprivation such as fatigue, depression or anxiety, clumsiness or trouble thinking of the right words in a conversation, it may be worth seeing a specialist. In the short term, breathing problems can be eased by sleeping on your side and using firm, high loft pillows such as our fantastic Space Pillow! Allergies can also play a major role in your restless nights, so it may be worth taking an antihistamine an hour or so before bed and investing in allergy-resistant bedding.

Getting older happens to the best of us—unless you're Paul Rudd and/or dabble in blood magic. Would I like to remain youthful forever? of course! but apparently I have no choice in the matter. With aging comes a change in your biological clock that scientists still aren’t quite sure of the answer to. Your body’s natural circadian rhythm can be remarkably different in your 60s than it was in your 20s, prompting you to both sleep and wake up earlier. If you’re resisting this change, it could be having a negative effect on your overall sleep quality so it may be worth adjusting your sleeping patterns.

Stress and anxiety can lead to increased heart rates, blood pressure levels, and to tossing and turning—symptoms which are not at all conducive to sleep. Reading, journaling, meditation, a nice warm bath, or even some light yoga or stretching (emphasis on light! You want to maintain a nice calm heart rate) have all been linked to positive effects on a person’s stress and anxiety levels and can ensure falling asleep faster, deeper, and for longer. We'll also cover these methods later in this post!

Poor or outdated mattresses can have a massive affect on your sleep quality, resulting in interrupted and poor sleep, seemingly random aches and pains, and even allergy flare-ups! It can be hard to diagnose as the issue, but a great mattress is more than worth its weight in gold and experts generally recommend upgrading to a new mattress every 7-10 years.

Speaking of great mattresses, our Award Winning Hybrid and our highly recommended Original are routinely $200 off with the code 'ZEEKFREAK'. Complete with our 100 Night Sleep Trial and a 10 year warranty, a great night's sleep is a few clicks away!

I could go on but these are some of the most common sleep thiefs. Everything from a vitamin D deficiency to certain medications to smoking or taking naps too late in the day to possibly even just having a negative attitude towards sleep itself can all negatively affect your sleep! If a consistently troublesome night becomes commonplace, you should ultimately see your local GP and possibly even a sleep specialist.

Okay, but why is it always around 1 to 3 in the morning? Well, because the majority of deep sleep happens early in the night. Towards the second half, you’re largely in REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and light sleep which is much easier to wake from.

Interestingly, there’s a theory that suggests that humans are naturally biphasic sleepers. Meaning that we’re meant to be sleeping in two segments instead of one big block, and that it’s only with the industrial age that we’ve taken to our current sleeping patterns. Limited research and studies have at the very least proven that biphasic sleep is a perfectly acceptable alternative for a healthy mind and body so long as you're still achieving 7-9 hours of quality sleep. If none of the above seem like a cause and none of the below seem like a cure, it may be worth trying it out!


Okay! you’ve created a cool, dark, quiet, cave-like environment for yourself and perhaps we've even given you a suggestion as to what might be causing your mid-sleep mishaps, but if you’re reading this late at night and it’s too late to remedy any of the longer-term causes, what can you do right now? What methods can be done in 10-15 minutes that can really help get you back to sleep fast? Let's start with some breathing.

Breathing exercises are amazing at quickly and easily settling your body and mind and should generally be the first thing you try when trying to get back to sleep. There’s a number of different exercises out there but I’ll start with my favourite. Easy to remember, easy to implement⁠—box breathing is as simple as it gets. Simply breath in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds, and then wait 4 seconds and repeat!

Alternative techniques include alternate nostril breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, Buteyko breathing, and another favourite—4-7-8 breathing.

Reading is arguably one of the most efficient ways to relax. A good 10-minute reading spree (on paper, we want to avoid screens near or mid-way through bedtime) has been shown to significantly reduce stress levels, allow your muscles to relax, slow down your breathing, and lead to a calmer mind. Pick up a good book and put down those worries!

Journaling is an excellent way to clear your mind and focus on the positives. Journaling just before bed has been shown to reduce anxiety, stress, and general worrywarting so if you have a head full of troubles, sometimes the best thing for it is to get them out on paper—even if you scrunch it up and throw it out the next day, the important part is to document and process your thoughts and feelings. The best part is a good journaling sesh can take as little as 5 minutes!

Essential oils and fragrance candles. Yeah, yeah, I know. Some may roll their eyes at this one, but it’s true! Whether it’s placebo or not, Lavender-scented oils and candles especially have been shown to have positive effects on overall sleep quality, allowing you to sleep more soundly. This powerful little plant has been widely used for over 2,500 years across dozens of different cultures and civilizations for a reason!

Relaxing music. Well, hey, lullabies work on babies right? Fortunately it works on everyone else too! In numerous studies it’s been shown that adding music to your bedtime routine can shorten the time it takes to get to sleep. So, if you find yourself up in the middle of the night with headphones close by, it might be worth putting on some gentle tunes for a bit. Of course we’re talking some calming lo-fi here, now’s not the time to blast some metalcore!

Take a bath. This is kind of a last resort if it’s the middle of the night, but a nice relaxing bath can really put you over the edge and into a nice restful state primed for sleep. Just make sure you don’t fall asleep in the bath as that is quite a different problem and not one covered by this blog post. Showers do also work, but to a lesser extent.


You made it through the night, awesome, look at you go! What further tips do we have to get that sweet refreshing sleep for future nights to come? Well, we’ve largely covered this before in this blog post here about bedtime routines, but the gist is this:

  • Have a consistent sleep schedule. Wake up and go to bed at consistent times, even on weekends.
  • Avoid napping after about 3-4pm.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Don’t eat, smoke, or drink alcohol or caffeine too close to bedtime.
  • Get plenty of sunlight during the day then limit light exposure at night.
  • Avoid raising your heartrate and blood pressure too close to bedtime.
  • An hour or so before bed, warm up and then cool down your body temperature such as with a warm shower, bath, or pleasantly warm drink (think hot chocolate).

Phew, that was a long one. Maybe you even fell asleep while reading this, in which case you’re welcome!

Still can’t sleep? Check out some more great tips & tricks right on Zeek.

Note: If you’re experiencing serious or ongoing difficulties with sleep or have other underlying medical conditions, then it is important to talk to your doctor who can provide professional and personalised advice for your situation. After all, we’re just a mattress brand—we only have a (metaphorical) PhD in comfort.