Bet You Didn’t Know That You Wake Up 70 Times Each Night

Sleep Trouble

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On your “good sleep” list, you’ve got all your sheep in place, so to speak.

  • Deep Sleep De-Mystified? Check.
  • REM remastered? Check.
  • 7 Steps for Sleeping Soundly? Check.

The only thing your missing is Wake. Or rather, you’re not missing it – you want to know what to do about it.

For the record, I only remembered the “Wake” in the middle -and it felt like forever.

I’ll know it when I see it, right?

Wake is a funny thing. For instance, we as humans constantly misjudge our time in wake. We’re only right about 45% of the time. For some, it’s even less.  I myself know that I rarely remember being awake unless it’s for more than 5 minutes.

Don’t worry though – not being able to remember your awakenings is not a sign of dementia.

And then there’s that whole time warp thing going on while you’re awake.  You know, that “I’ve been lying here for ages” feeling you get when you’re trying to fall back asleep.  For those suffering from broken sleep – sleep that is constantly interrupted by periods of wake – this can add to the frustration.


What to do about it?

How can I get rid of that dreaded “Wake” bar(s) once and for all?

You can’t.

I’ll let Dr. John Winkelman explain why.

Did you catch that?  We wake up, on average, 70 times a night.


Holy Cow.

Did you know that?

Keep in mind that most of these awakenings are less than a minute long. As you know, Zeo doesn’t record anything shorter than 30 seconds, and looks at the past five minutes to figure out what it should call that period.

So you’re waking up, but don’t see it in your sleep graph. Instead, you’re getting depressed about the few 5 minute Wake bars (which could only be 2 minutes in reality) that show up in everyone’s sleep, no matter their age.  There’s a good chance that you don’t even remember that longer wake.

What to do? Am I really telling you to just not worry about it?

Of course not. There are things you can do to decrease the amount of time you spend in Wake each night- and I will share them with you.  I really want you to have the best sleep possible.

Ready? Let’s go.

Taking Matters into Your Own Hands

The first thing for you to do is relax. Seriously, stress doesn’t do your sleep any favours.

For instance, that chunk of wake in the sleep graph was from stress. My body was waking me up to say “Andi!  You didn’t deal with issue X earlier – and it’s killing your sleep!  Deal with it, so that we can get some rest!”

The second thing you could do is look at your overall sleep patterns. Do you get a typical amount of Deep, REM, Light and Wake (yes, Wake) for your age? If so, then congrats. Your sleep -and Wake- is statistically OK.


Typical Zeo users, with breakdown by Age and Sex, 1 Standard Deviation

However, if you fall into the camp of “too much Wake” – what Dr. John called “Excessive Wake” – then it might be a good time to take inventory of your lifestyle and habits. That’s step three.

It’s possible that there could be some underlying issues – chronic pain, perhaps – that make it harder for your body to stay asleep.  Of maybe you’ve got a young kid who needs you at 3am or you’re going through a huge, life changing event.

It could be what you eat & drink – or even, what you don’t.

Your circadian rhythm could be off as well, or you’re trying to sleep when you’re not tired.  Travel, shift work, and light exposure all have an impact on our circadian rhythm, which in turn predicts whether or not we’re going to successfully “sleep through a night.”

Lastly, stop worrying about what being awake at night might mean for the next day.  Instead, teach yourself to focus on how much sleep -and its quality- you got.

Despite being awake for over an hour, I came pretty close to my standard amounts of Deep and REM.  Seeing that in the morning actually made it easier to face the day than just relying on my memory.

In short, the best way to manage your Time in Wake is to manage your daily life.  It’s been said before, but what you do during the day really helps you sleep more soundly – and with less interruptions – during the night.

Sleep Well!

This post originally appeared on Zeology.