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Sleep Interrupted: Unraveling the Causes and Solutions for Nighttime Awakenings

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Muthana Al-Najjar
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Sleep Interrupted: Unraveling the Causes and Solutions for Nighttime Awakenings

Amid the hustle of modern life, the importance of a good night's sleep cannot be overstated. Yet, for about 17% of adults, according to the CDC, a restful night is often elusive. The struggle typically starts with waking up in the middle of the night and the subsequent battle to drift back into sleep. Dr. Biquan Luo, a renowned sleep expert, and the CEO of LumosTech, delves into this issue, exploring its causes and suggesting potential solutions.

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The Puzzle of Nighttime Awakenings

Several factors can contribute to disrupted sleep. Stress, discomfort, and environmental factors, such as noise or temperature, can disturb the peaceful rhythm of sleep. Notably, certain sleep disorders like sleep apnea can also lead to fragmented sleep. Dr. Luo points out another subtle but significant cause - a disruption in the body's natural sleep-wake cycle, which can lead to broken sleep patterns.

Navigating the Nocturnal Interruptions

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While waking up at night can be frustrating, Dr. Luo advises staying in bed initially to relax and attempt to fall asleep again. Tools like progressive relaxation and breathing exercises can help in this regard. If sleep doesn't return within 10-15 minutes, she suggests moving to a quiet space to engage in low-stimulation activities until drowsiness returns. Checking the time or using a phone is discouraged as these can spike stress levels, hindering the return to sleep.

Aligning the Internal Clock

Prevention, as always, is better than cure. Dr. Luo suggests that aligning the body's internal clock with the sleep schedule can help prevent nocturnal wakefulness. This can be achieved by adjusting the circadian rhythm through consistent wake-up times, exposure to bright light, meal timing, melatonin supplements, exercise, and moderate morning caffeine intake. These measures can help ensure a restful night and, consequently, a productive day.

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