The good news is, it’s completely normal to wake up during the middle of the night, even more than once. As Tal explains to mbg, this actually used to be the norm. Before the Industrial Revolution, he says, “We would go to bed a little bit earlier than we do nowadays, and we would basically wake up in the middle of the night, go to the bathroom, hang out, maybe have a cup of tea, and then go back to sleep and sleep in a little bit.”
When we began consolidating our sleep post-Industrial Revolution, he adds, is when more sleep issues rose to prominence. However, he says, waking up in the middle of the night doesn’t necessarily mean you’re losing out on deep sleep: “Usually you’re waking up between stages of sleep, so you’re not really interrupting anything.” It’s easier to wake up during light sleep (stages 1 or 2), from a noise or the need to pee for example, and that’s completely normal, he says.
Now, if you’re waking up four to five times a night, he adds, that might indicate your sleep cycle is off or you may need to enhance your sleep hygiene. In addition to that, it shouldn’t take much longer than 15 to 30 minutes to fall back asleep. So, if you’re dealing with many wakeups or can’t fall back asleep, that’s when you may need to work with a professional, such as a sleep psychologist.