Why do I wake up at 3 every night? AM
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.