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Tips to help you fall asleep again if you wake up in the middle of the night

There are few things more infuriating that waking up in the small hours of the morning just to find it impossible to get back to sleep.

No matter how much you toss and turn, you could very well still be awake by the time your alarm goes off, despite waking up at 1am.

Though many people describe this sensation as fully-fledged insomnia, that's not strictly correct – always waking up in the middle of the night is a condition doctors call “sleep maintenance insomnia".

But fear not – there are a number of techniques you can deploy to try and restore some balance to your sleep schedule, here they are listed below.

1. Don't focus on the time

More often than not, people wake up in the middle of the night because they are anxious about something, maybe it is an event happening later that day? Don't stress further by watching the clock slowly count down, this will only reduce your chances of falling back to sleep.

Try to refrain from looking at your phone and if you have an alarm clock, turn it so it is facing away from you. Stressing over the time is a sure-fire way to ruin your chances of a good night's sleep.

2. Limit blue light exposure and reduce screen-time before bed

Though many people find that their bedtime routine involves scrolling mindlessly through Twitter, the blue light emitted by your phone can present a dilemma for the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that controls the body's sleep cycle.

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Try to put your phone to one side an hour before you go to bed, or if you can't fathom that, at least dim the level of brightness on the screen and reduce the blue light emissions.

This will help your brain have a chance of producing the melatonin necessary to drift off naturally.

3. Relax your muscles and your mind

A fairly obvious piece of advice, but it can be a lot harder than it sounds. Knowing you need to relax does not actually trigger the sensation in your body for you, you need to fight against your body's own wishes to try and fall back into a state of slumber.

There are a number of exercises you can do to help relax your body and increase your chances of sleep, such as deep breathing exercises, counting backwards, or a muscle relaxation routine to name but a few.

4. Get up, leave the room and then try sleeping again

A lot of sleep experts claim that if you have tried and failed to get to sleep for more than 20 minutes, you should get up, go somewhere else in your home, and do something soothing.

That could be anything from completing a crossword, to reading a book or even listening to a podcast, just anything that might make your body relaxed/tired again.

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Some experts suggest deliberately choosing an activity you find boring, as you are more likely to fall asleep doing something you find dull rather than an activity that stimulates you.

However, this all MUST be done in another room, as Luis F. Buenaver, a professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Johns Hopkins explained that if you do this while remaining in bed, it “will lead your brain and body to associate your bed with wakefulness instead of with sleep”.

5. Don't drink alcohol before bed

Even just one glass of alcohol can have an adverse effect on your chances of achieving sustained sleep. Even though alcohol is a depressant that slows brain activity, leading you to feel slow and heavy – it can actually have the opposite effect once you've fallen asleep.

Mayo Clinic neurologist Bhanu Kolla told CNN: "As alcohol is metabolized it forms acetaldehyde which is stimulating. Therefore if you drink too much alcohol right before going to bed, in about four hours it is converted to aldehyde which can disrupt sleep and wake you up."

Attempting either just one or a few of these tips will slowly but surely help you build a bedtime routine that guarantees a successful night's sleep.

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