In case of alarm clock, consult his tablet or smartphone is a bad idea. – Sprayable Sleep / REX / REX / SIPA

  • When they are frequent, the nocturnal awakenings disturb the quality of sleep and reverberate during the day.
  • That's why it's important not to let them settle.
  • If it is recommended to consult, measures of good sleep hygiene are also to be expected.

Open the eyes. Tell yourself that it must be time to get up and start your day. Except that it is only 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning, and that the awakening has not planned to ring before a good time. Every night, wake up when you should sleep deeply, without knowing why or how to prevent it. But what to do when these nocturnal awakenings – the promise of a drowsy day – happen every night? What can be the causes of these untimely awakenings? Should we worry? And how to succeed in making beautiful nights full of sleep again? 20 minutes tries to unravel the secrets of Morpheus.

Multiple causes

We have all experienced a bad night. Meals that are too greasy and over-watered, heatwaves or eve of holidays are all causes that can punctually wake you in the middle of the night. But for some, these nocturnal awakenings happen every night. "In the majority of cases, the cause is physiological, reassures Dr. Sylvie Royant-Parola, psychiatrist doctor and president of the network Morpheus. We wake up at the end of each sleep cycle, often without realizing it ". Because "sleep is not a block: it consists of small bricks, cycles of about 1:30 which succeed each other during the night," says Dr. Philippe Beaulieu, a specialist in sleep disorders
Center for diagnosis and treatment of sleeping sickness at Henri Mondor University Hospital and co-author of Sleeping without meds or herbal teas (Marabout ed.) Each cycle is composed of different stages. There is slow sleep – which can be either light or deep – during which the brain is in slow motion, and paradoxical sleep, during which the brain goes at 100 per hour, and where we dream, he continues. In the first part of the night, more deep sleep is produced, and sleep relief is not known at the end of each cycle. The second part of night consists of alternating phases between light slow sleep and paradoxical sleep. There, there is much more risk of getting out of sleep. And the older we get, the more we are aware of these nocturnal awakenings, which can last between 20 and 40 minutes, sometimes more, adds Dr. Royant-Parola.

These frequent nocturnal awakenings may also be "orderly, related to stressors, lifestyle, or to a particular event like a move or a new job," says Dr. Beaulieu. These events put in tension, on alert, make speed the day and keep in
a form of hypervigilance at night, weakening sleep ". Sometimes, the causes of this split sleep are physical. "You may be awakened by breathing problems or, during the menopause for example, sleep disturbed by night sweats and a sensation of temperature rise". Finally, "very early awakening may be a sign of depression," says the sleep specialist.

Do not cogitate and consult

But in practice, what to do? No question of feeding stress, which will further disrupt his sleep. "When these disorders have repercussions on the day, that we are less fit, sleepy, irritable and that we note a decline in morale, then we must consult, because sleep is related to all that. It's a cross-cutting factor, says Dr. Beaulieu. Yet, it is so much part of everyday life that people do not think to consult: only 20% of insomniacs do it specifically for this problem. " However, "we must prevent the sleep disorders become chronic," abounds Dr. Royant-Parola.

While waiting for an appointment with a specialist, in case of awakenings at night, we first try to leave his mind on standby. "We must try not to feed his thoughts, not to cogitate," says Dr. Royant-Parola. If we enter this circuit in which we rehash his day's work or things to do, falling asleep will be all the more complicated. If you feel well and relaxed, you can stay in bed while you sleep. " However, beyond 30 minutes, if we have not been asleep and the concern is too strong, "better get up, go relax in his living room and read a few pages under a soft light while waiting that sleep signals come back, "Dr. Beaulieu recommends. Preparing an herbal tea or trying relaxation techniques can also help.

"Take care of your sleep hygiene"

To multiply the nocturnal awakenings, difficult, too, to get up in the morning or not to feel a bar in the day. However, "it is not because we woke up in the night that we must get up later or take a nap, otherwise we will wake up at night and
disrupt your biological clock, "warns Dr. Royant-Parola. And "do not change his bedtime, either, complete Dr. Beaulieu. If you go to bed at 8:00 pm while you go to sleep naturally later, it will not work, but may even be worse and increase your sleep stress. This is where care must be taken not to fall into psychophysiological insomnia, caused by performance anxiety.

You also have to "take care of your sleep hygiene," says Dr. Beaulieu. We know the harmful impact of screens on sleep, but many who take them with them in the room, who consult their business emails to bed and use their smartphone at night: all this feeds the insomnia of hypervigilance . It is essential to have a real time of physical and psychic decompression at least 1 hour 30 before bedtime. Finally, to take care of your sleep hygiene, it is also not to drink too much alcohol, not to make too much meal and to sleep in a well ventilated and not overheated room.