Why do I wake up at 3 ev­ery night? AM

First For Women - - Health -

Q: My friends and I were com­plain­ing about how tired we all are ev­ery day, and in talk­ing, we dis­cov­ered many of us wake up around 3 AM and have trou­ble fall­ing back asleep. What’s the deal?

A: My pa­tients of­ten ask about wak­ing up in the mid­dle of the night. There are two likely cul­prits for this— and luck­ily, both are eas­ily cor­rected with sim­ple life­style ad­just­ments.

The first cul­prit: cir­ca­dian dys­reg­u­la­tion, a con­di­tion re­sult­ing from too lit­tle light ex­po­sure dur­ing the day and too much light ex­po­sure at night. The brain typ­i­cally be­gins to re­lease the sleep-in­duc­ing hor­mone mela­tonin when it be­gins to get dark out­side, but the harsh, blue-tinted light from work­ing on a lap­top, scrolling through Face­book on your smart­phone or watch­ing tele­vi­sion di­als back the pro­duc­tion of the hor­mone by as much as 30%. That makes it dif­fi­cult to re­main sleep­ing through the night. The fix: Give your­self 90 min­utes away from screens be­fore bed, opt­ing in­stead to read, work on crafts or con­verse with fam­ily mem­bers. It may take a week or two to see re­sults, but then you’ll be sleep­ing soundly.

The sec­ond cul­prit: al­co­hol in­take be­fore bed. A glass of red wine seems like the per­fect way to re­lax af­ter a long day, and ini­tially, it does cause a soft drowsi­ness that seems to help stress melt away. But about two to four hours af­ter in­ges­tion, al­co­hol can trig­ger brain arousal, caus­ing you to wake at odd hours through­out the night. Ad­di­tion­ally, al­co­hol can lead to hot flashes, acid re­flux and blad­der ir­ri­ta­tion, all of which can in­ter­fere with a good night’s sleep. If you en­joy an oc­ca­sional glass of wine or beer in the evening, try to con­sume it at least four hours be­fore you go to bed—this will help min­i­mize the im­pact it has on your sleep.

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