Why Can I Sleep Only Every Other Night? – How to Fix It

Sleep Every Other Night_

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Afaque Ali, MBBS, RMP

Dr. Ayesha Jamal, MBBS, RMP

June 25, 2020

Most people would like to have a good sleep every night. But some of us might only get a good night’s sleep every other night. On the other hand, albeit very rarely, some people might feel that sleeping every other night might be more natural to them. The reason why someone might only be able to sleep every other night varies from one person to another. Some people feel that, at least in some point of their life, they can sleep well only every other night. Should you be concerned if you sleep only every other night?

Stress, whether it is long-term or short-term, is one of the biggest reasons why someone might sleep well only every other night. Those who have insomnia might have problems to sleep every other night. It is essential to find a good solution to this problem, because having a good sleep every night is beneficial to your health.

Actually, about every third of adults have some problems with falling asleep or staying asleep, so if you are facing these problems every other night, you are not alone.

The first thing you should do is to find out what the real reason behind this problem is.


Why Can I Sleep Only Every Other Night?

The reason may vary from person to person, but there are some common causes for insomnia every other night.

  • Stress is often the biggest culprit for sleeping problems. You might have some stress, even without you noticing it yourself. If you can have a good sleep one night, the following night you might find it harder to sleep. And when you have had a worse night, you will probably sleep next night much better, and for the next night, you can’t sleep again. This “spin” may continue for a long time if you have any stressful situation in your life.
  • Any significant changes in your life may affect your sleeping too. If you face any dramatic event – for example, one of your relatives has passed away – it may affect your sleeping very much.
  • If you don’t exercise enough, the problem might be that you have too much energy that doesn’t get released. Therefore, it would be good to do some light exercise or have a hobby that contains some movement. Or at least, take a walk outside once a day.
  • Medicines may cause various kinds of problems related to sleep. Some medications might cause insomnia, and some might make you extra sleepy. Therefore, it would be good to discuss any issues with your doctor.
  • If you use any natural treatment, it might cause insomnia, or affect your sleep every other night (or even every night).
  • Your sleeping environment might cause disturbance for your sleep. Check if your bed is comfortable enough, and if your bedroom is cool and dark enough. Furthermore, spend some time to make it more relaxing and homey.
  • Check your habits. If you have an unbalanced schedule or, for example, if you eat too late, it may cause insomnia. Also, it can be ideal for checking your drinking habits; drinking alcohol, especially too much alcohol, can cause sleeping problems.

A number of other reasons might affect your sleep, too. After you have found the reason why you can sleep just every other night, you need motivation to do some changes.

That is why we should now consider the following question:

How Important Is It to Have a Good Sleep Every Night?

Sleeping is crucial to your health.

It is true that some of us feel that they don’t need a lot of sleep. Some of us don’t feel that they need the same amount of sleep every night, and they might just sleep more during the weekends and less on the weekdays.

There are also people who work during the nighttime and sleep during the daytime. But staying awake for over 18 to 20 hours is unnatural, and may cause you severe troubles in the long term, or maybe even in the short term.

But why is sleeping every other night bad for you, and how do we know it? What if you feel just fine when you sleep only every other night?

Over time, some people have started to feel that they don’t need to sleep every night. Their body is trying to stay awake every other night. Or some people might feel that it is indeed their natural sleeping rhythm.

Sleeping every night is natural. But it is unnatural to stay awake when it is nighttime and dark. So if you skip sleeping every other night, the habit is not based on your natural sleeping schedule.

The human brain is meant to work in cycles of about 24 hours. Therefore, it may cause some damage to the brain if you don’t sleep when you would need to.

What kind of damage might it cause to your brain?

It will not happen overnight, but if you keep on sleeping just every other night, your brain will start losing its working ability over time.

If you stay awake for too long without sleeping at all, you can actually lose your mind. Even if the time spent awake is not so long, your alertness level will be lower, affecting your driving ability and fine motor skills.

How long without sleep is too long, then?


What happens after 24 hours without any sleep?

You probably have difficulties to focus, to drive a car or to do any work that requires concentration. Your memory might be poor, which makes it more difficult to be productive at work. Also, your impulsiveness increases when you haven’t slept for a long time. Your coordination is also getting worse.

After staying awake for 36 hours:

The risks for your health increase. Your blood pressure will get higher, as will your pulse.

If staying awake continues for too long, then, at some point, you might fall asleep unexpectedly, which might be dangerous depending on the situation.

In the long run, your physical health can be damaged, if you continue to sleeping only every other night. Sleeping is meant to help you recover from the day. Sleeping should also give your brain a rest, so that you are ready for all the challenges the next day might offer.


When Should You Be Concerned If You Sleep Only Every Other Night?

If you stay awake for around 40 hours, it will most likely cause some side effects. Therefore, it is better to do something if this continues for a long time.

If you sleep every other night, you should ask yourself:

  • Do I feel that I can focus well enough if I drive a car?
  • Do I feel productive and can get things done?
  • Do I feel healthy?
  • Do I feel happy?

If you answer “NO” any of these questions, you need to do something about this issue.

However, most people report that they don’t have any difficulties in their life and still they feel that they can’t sleep every other night. What to do then?

Let’s find the solution:

What to Do If You Can Sleep Only Every Other Night?

If you have sleeping problems that bother you every other night, for first, you should not worry. If you feel any fear or anxiety about your sleeping problems, that might keep you awake.


  1. Try to relax and don’t worry! Knowing that you need to wake up early in the morning won’t make it any easier. Therefore, try not to think about it too much if you can’t fall asleep.
  2. Establish habits for sleeping: In the evening, about one hour before you are planning to sleep, take a hot shower. Drink something very relaxing, like chamomile tea or just fresh milk. Go to bed and listen to something relaxing.
  3. Stop using your mobile phone and computer about 3 hours before bedtime. Or if that’s not feasible, you should get a decent screen dimmer APP.
  4. Do some exercises in the daytime, but not late in the evening. You might select any kind of exercise that you enjoy and are physically able to do. For example, it could be swimming, walking or running.
  5. Try these sounds to fall asleep.
  6. Make sure that your bed, pillow and cover, as well as other sleeping accessories, are comfortable in good condition. If you feel that some of these products might help you, then you should try one.
  7. Try these tips to fall asleep.
  8. Try these tips to fix your sleeping schedule.
  9. If you feel that drinking alcohol may affect your sleep, you may want to try to reduce or stop drinking. In case you notice you have a drinking problem and decide to stop drinking totally, you may want to follow up on how long it’s been since you last drank alcohol with this useful tool.

Where Can You Get Help If You Sleep Only Every Other Night?

See a doctor or a sleep therapist. If you have any sleep problems that you can’t solve by yourself in a short time, you should seek professional help. Therefore, if you continually can’t sleep every other night, you should contact your doctor and find a good solution to this problem together.


  1. CDC Press Releases. CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0215-enough-sleep.html. Published 2020. Accessed June 25, 2020.
  2. Insomnia – HelpGuide.org. Helpguide.org. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/insomnia-causes-and-cures.htm. Published 2020. Accessed June 25, 2020.
  3. Nutrition, Exercise & Sleep – Sleep Foundation. Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/diet-exercise-and-sleep. Published 2020. Accessed June 25, 2020.
  4. Roehrs T, Roth T. Sleep, sleepiness, sleep disorders and alcohol use and abuse. Sleep Med Rev. 2001;5(4):287-297. doi:10.1053/smrv.2001.0162
  5. Blagrove M, Alexander C, Horne J. The effects of chronic sleep reduction on the performance of cognitive tasks sensitive to sleep deprivation. Appl Cogn Psychol. 1995;9(1):21-40. doi:10.1002/acp.2350090103
  6. Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency | National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Nhlbi.nih.gov. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/sleep-deprivation-and-deficiency#:~:text=Sleep%20plays%20an%20important%20role,pressure%2C%20diabetes%2C%20and%20stroke. Published 2020. Accessed June 25, 2020.
  7. Sobriety Calculator – Rehab 4 Alcoholism. Rehab 4 Alcoholism. https://www.rehab4alcoholism.com/sobriety-calculator. Published 2020. Accessed June 25, 2020.

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