HealthWaking up at 3 AM: unraveling biology behind nocturnal awakenings and ways to tackle them

Waking up at 3 AM: unraveling biology behind nocturnal awakenings and ways to tackle them

Do you wake up at 3? Then you experience a physiological slump.
Do you wake up at 3? Then you experience a physiological slump.
Images source: © Licensor | Marcos Calvo

8:08 AM EST, January 15, 2024

To comprehend why we wake up at a certain time, we need to understand our internal biological clock or circadian rhythm.

Our bodies work on their own rhythm, which instinctively prompts us to sleep at night and stay awake during the day.

Many of us encounter what's known as a "physiological dip" between 2:00 AM and 4:00 AM Eastern Time, during which our body naturally lowers its temperature and metabolism, potentially leading to us waking up.

Stress reduction, managing or treating concurrent illnesses, and practicing healthy sleeping habits can prevent these frequent nocturnal awakenings.

Health problems related to regular night awakenings

Regularly waking up at night can be linked with health problems such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless legs syndrome.

Typical "nocturnal" diseases aren't the only causes of such awakenings. Some cases of wakefulness are seen in people suffering from gastroesophageal reflux and asthma, as well as those taking certain medications (including beta-carotene and antidepressants).

How can you sleep through the night healthily?

To enhance your sleep quality and reduce the chances of waking up at night, some evident strategies may be helpful.

Firstly, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is crucial in regulating our circadian rhythm. This means aiming to go to bed and wake up at approximately the same time each day.

Secondly, ensure your sleeping conditions are suitable for your body. This means keeping the bedroom dark and cool and ensuring your pillows and mattresses are comfortable.

It's also advisable to avoid using devices that emit blue light before sleeping and to limit fluid intake to prevent midnight trips to the toilet. Lastly, ensure a balanced diet (avoid eating right before sleep) and regular physical activity.

If you've already implemented the above advice and still frequently experience nocturnal awakenings, it could be worthwhile to consult a doctor or sleep specialist. It may turn out that certain treatments, cognitive-behavioral therapy, or significant lifestyle changes are required.

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