If you have no trouble falling asleep, but find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, you have what is sometimes described as maintenance insomnia. Often, though, your sleeping difficulties are attributable to other sleep conditions that can be treated to give yourself a complete night’s sleep.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders in the US. The most common form, obstructive sleep apnea, may affect up to a quarter of all adults in the US (though more conservative estimates place the incidence as low as 5%). People are most likely to suffer from sleep apnea if they are obese, but you don’t have to be obese to have this condition.

In sleep apnea, you may actually awaken hundreds of times a night without knowing it, but only come to awareness one or a few times. Because of the numerous wakings, people with sleep apnea often have daytime sleepiness and may experience heart problems.

The most common sign of sleep apnea is pronounced snoring, especially if it ends in a choking or gasping sound.

Conditioned Arousal

Conditioned arousal is when you have taught your body to wake up at night. You may start out waking up for some specific reason, such as anxiety, stress, or a cosleeper who awakened you when getting ready for a night shift. Over time, though, your body just learns to get up at night, even if the stimulus is gone.

Try to think back to when your sleep problems began. If you can point to a specific event that may have started a sleep conditioning pattern, this may be your problem.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has proven very effective at treating this type of waking.


Nocturia is when your body has to wake up to urinate in the middle of the night. Although this may happen occasionally to healthy individuals, in people with this condition, multiple awakenings are normal.

There are many potential causes for nocturia, such as:

  • Age (it typically affects people age 60 or older)
  • Pregnancy or childbirth
  • Bladder or urinary tract infections
  • Overconsumption of liquid during the day or night (caffeine and alcohol are more likely to result in nocturia)
  • Some medications

Studies have shown that people with nocturia are often awakened by sleep apnea, then become aware of an urge to urinate.

If you’re not sure what’s causing your night awakening, you should be evaluated for sleep apnea, since it has serious consequences for your health.

To learn more about getting a proper sleep apnea diagnosis, please call (303) 691-0267 at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado in Denver.