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5 Major Reasons Why You Wake Up In The Middle Of Night

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Last Updated on August 24, 2021 by Aaron Thompson

It’s three o’clock in the morning, and you don’t have to reach for your phone to check it out. You are confident because you always wake up at the same time. It’s like someone sets a silent alarm clock in your brain every day, which rings every night, despite your sincere desire to sleep all eight hours.

In fact, most of us wake up several times at night. But these awakenings are so brief and superficial that the brain doesn’t even remember them in the morning. Moreover, for some people, one or more of all awakenings in the middle of the night may indicate a health problem. 

Why You Wake Up In The Middle Of Night Daily?

There are several reasons that explain the occurrence of this kind of awakening; here are some of them:

  1. Anxiety

One possible cause, according to Dr. Michael Perlis, is sleep anxiety. If a person is worried about getting good sleep, their brain may be on high alert during periods of wakefulness. When one of these superficial, mundane awakenings occurs after the first nightly deep sleep cycle, the anxious brain can overreact.

Perlis says this emotional response can cause a person to wake up for a longer period of time than usual. And since sleep stages usually occur at regular intervals, this anxiety-induced arousal can occur at the same time every night.

  1. Alcohol

Another prime suspect is alcohol. “Right after drinking, you feel sleepy,” says Timothy Roehrs, director of research at the Henry Ford Health System’s Sleep Disorders Research Center in Detroit. Thus, if you drink alcohol, you might sleep well for 3-5 hours, but the process of sudden awakenings would start.

While 1-2 glasses of alcohol are usually not enough to disrupt sleep, moderate to heavy consumption of alcohol can be energizing. The absorption of alcohol by the body is usually not very different. Thus, if you make it a habit of drinking lots of alcohol before bedtime, then you will wake up at the same time daily. 

Thus, if you want to quit drinking alcohol, you need to get some expert help. So contact a nearby rehab center and select a proper treatment plan. Once you get better, you will notice the quality of sleep will also improve.

  1. Indigestion

If you have a digestion problem, then due to acid reflux, you might wake up at night. Gut problems can cause severe irritation, especially at night. This may happen regularly if you continue to eat dinner late or eat some spicy food.

The best way to solve this problem is to avoid eating foods late at night; you may also try giving up spicy foods. If you feel hungry at night, you may eat some healthy foods such as nuts to curb the craving. Such snacking would fill your stomach and also save you from inconvenience at night.

  1. Diseases

Health problems can also cause a person to wake up at night. As an example, Perlis talks about gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), which can cause moderate insomnia. This term is used by doctors to refer to awakenings in the middle of the night. 

Other symptoms of GERD may include persistent coughing or heartburn, but Perlis argues that, in general, people with the condition do not have daytime symptoms. OSA and other illnesses, including pain disorders, can cause awakenings at the same time due to the predictable nature of sleep cycles.

Deep sleep stages other than REM sleep are usually the longest at the beginning of the night. A person sleeps soundly during the first 3-5 hours of the night. Despite the symptoms of the disease, and then wakes up – when the initial stage of deep sleep turns into a lighter stage of REM sleep.

  1. Habits 

Another cause of moderate insomnia may be a person’s actions during the day, which causes sudden awakenings. Thus, you need to give up habits that cause moderate insomnia. 

According to Perlis, if you spend your sleepless hours raking in email or doing other things that you can’t find time for during the day, you yourself encourage your brain to wake up regularly. And that’s bad. An accurate schedule of sleep cycles can trigger this type of awakening every night at the same time.

Night Awakenings And Health Problems

How do you know if your average insomnia is caused by a health problem? Michael Perlis suggests using a rule of thumb that if you can remember five or more awakenings per night, each lasting no more than a few minutes, this is a direct sign of a medical problem. If you wake up one or more times over a longer period of time, there is probably something else involved.

How To Get Rid Of Night Awakenings?

Of course, the course of action depends on the reasons. If your problem is alcohol, try cutting back on alcohol, and if you are unable to do it yourself, contact an addiction specialist. Are you suffering from increased anxiety or other psychological problems? Then according to Perlis, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT-I) will help.

 It is a form of specialist-led psychotherapy combined with behavioral changes or the introduction of new habits. “CBT-I works wonders,” says Michael. But for this, you will have to visit a doctor as this is not something you can do at home. According to Michael, the problem should be resolved within 2-5 days. 

Summing Up

Sleep awakenings at night can be due to anxiety, poor habits, alcohol consumption, diseases, and indigestion. Night awakenings at the same time daily may indicate a serious health problem. Thus, you need to identify the cause of the problem to get a suitable treatment. You can do this with the help of a doctor and get rid of restless nights and sleep healthily.

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