Here's what to do if you wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep

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We’ve all been there – lying in bed, angry, restless and frustrated, because the one thing we cannot do is get to sleep.

You might check your alarm and think...

It’s 3am. If I get to sleep now, I can still get in four hours

...only to keep tossing and turning until the birds start singing.

But now one expert has a surprising tip to cure insomnia.

When you can’t get to sleep, her advice is to get out of bed.

Wendy Troxel, PhD, explained that you must train your brain to realise that bed is primarily for sleep, not work, worry or stress.

Speaking to Byrdie magazine she said:

Our brains learn by association, and to sleep well, you want your brain to have a strong learned association between the bed and sleep.

The sleep professional said that the longer you lie in bed worrying about not sleeping, the less likely it is you will fall asleep. Instead she recommends getting up, putting on a low light and reading a book to distract you.

Troxel also stressed the importance of turning off all devices – televisions, tablets and iPhones – at least an hour before going to bed, as the bright light and stimulating content can keep you awake hours later.

Unfortunately for those of us who like to catch up on sleep at the weekend, she encourages waking up at the same time each day to control our body clocks.

She said:

The time you wake up is the single most important factor that sets your brain’s internal biological clock, so the brain knows when to be alert and awake (during the day) and when it should be asleep (at night).

And for those who think a wee night cap can help us drop off, Troxel warns:

It might help you to fall asleep, but as your body metabolises the alcohol, it can disrupt sleep.

A stack of books by the bed it is then.

More: This trick can help you get to sleep in 60 seconds

More: Why you definitely should try to get more sleep

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