Do You Wake Up at Night? A Sleep Expert Explains Why It's Often Around 4 AM

Written by Henrik Rothen

Dec.18 - 2023 11:55 AM CET

Photo: Shutterstock.com
Photo: Shutterstock.com
A Sleep Expert Explains Why It's Often Around 4 AM.

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Have you found yourself awake in the middle of the night? If you often lie in the dark wondering why you wake up, especially around 4 AM, you're not alone. While there are many theories, some suggesting supernatural or peculiar reasons, the truth is likely much simpler.

According to DenOffentlige, Lisa Artis, the Deputy Chief Executive of The Sleep Charity, in collaboration with Simba mattresses, aims to debunk common myths about sleep. Addressing the question of why many people frequently wake up around 4 AM, she explains, “We start to experience less deep sleep after four to five in the morning.”

So, if you went to bed around 11 PM, a fairly standard bedtime, you're probably just leaving deep sleep and are slowly waking up.

Hormones Also Play a Role

Your hormones can also keep you awake at night. “Sleep is governed by our internal circadian rhythm,” continues Artis. Sleep is regulated by two hormones: melatonin, which helps you doze off, and cortisol, which helps you wake up and stay awake. Keeping these hormones in check is crucial for a good night's sleep, so it's recommended to try to relax before going to bed and to put away screens, as the blue light emitted by screens can affect melatonin production.

Diet's Role

Naturally, your diet will also play a role in your sleep. Too much sugar, alcohol, caffeine, large meals, and a lack of magnesium and B-vitamins can all negatively impact your sleep. Artis advises, “It's unlikely that you'll feel hungry in the middle of the night if your blood sugar drops, but to avoid too many awakenings at ungodly hours, try alternatives for your last meal or dinner.”

“Instead of carbohydrate- or sugar-based snacks, choose protein-filled and magnesium-rich foods, such as hard-boiled eggs, cottage cheese, pumpkin seeds, spinach, dark chocolate, cashew nuts, chicken thighs, or turkey.” Protein is good for keeping you full for longer, whereas magnesium supports sleep. Carbohydrates and sugars can be problematic before bedtime. Also, try to reduce your fluid intake before bedtime to avoid waking up at night.

Age Matters

Age can be a factor, as sleep patterns change with age, along with hormonal changes like menopause. Anxiety and worries are, of course, not good for your sleep, so try to get rid of any concerns or worries before bedtime – writing them down can help, as can mindfulness and meditation exercises before bedtime.

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