Why Am I Waking Up at 3am?
Whenever I write about sleep, I hear from a chorus of people who struggle to sleep through the night. Anecdotally, it seems a far more common complaint than difficulty falling asleep in the first place. These complaints are one of three types: People who have trouble falling asleep People who sleep fitfully, waking multiple times throughout the night Those who reliably wake once, around the same time most nights Understandably, this is a hugely vexing problem. Poor quality sleep is a serious health concern. Not to mention, sleeping badly feels simply awful. When the alarm goes off after a night of tossing and turning, the next day is sure to be a slog. String several days like that together, and it’s hard to function at all. I’m going to go out on a limb, though, and assert that waking up in the middle of the night isn’t always the problem we make it out to be. For some people, nighttime wakings are actually something to embrace. As always, context is everything. Instantly download your Guide to Gut Health What Causes You to Wake Up In the Middle of the Night? One of the most frustrating things about nighttime waking is that there are so many possible causes. Sometimes the solution is as simple as practicing good sleep hygiene. Other times, medical help is in order. Still other times, the solution is something different entirely. Transitioning to Lighter Sleep Stages Sleep isn’t a uniform state of unconsciousness you slip into when it becomes dark and, theoretically, ride until morning. It’s a dynamic process that goes in waves — or more precisely, cycles — throughout the night. There are four (or five, depending on how you slice it) stages of sleep: Stage 1: light sleep, occurs right after falling asleep Stage 2: deeper sleep Slow-wave sleep (SWS): deepest sleep, a.k.a. Stage 3 and Stage 4 sleep REM: lighter sleep where our more interesting dreams occur (although we can also dream in non-REM phases) A single sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes, during which you move from light sleep, through stage 2, into deep SWS, and back up to REM. Then down you go again, then back up, ideally at least four of five times per night. Your sleep is also roughly broken into two phases over the course of a whole night. In the first half, you spend relatively more time in SWS. The second half is characterized by a higher proportion of REM sleep. What does this have to do with nighttime waking? One possible explanation is that as you transition into lighter sleep — either within a single sleep cycle, or as you move from the first to the second phase — aches, pains, and small annoyances are more likely to wake you up. These can include medical issues like chronic pain, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, or GERD. Soreness from the day’s hard workout, noise or light from your environment, hunger, thirst, or being too hot or cold might rouse you from your slumber. If … Continue reading Why Am I Waking Up at 3am?The post Why Am I Waking Up at 3am? appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple