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93: Why am I waking up at the SAME TIME in the middle of the night

sleep Jan 13, 2024
Why am I waking up at the same time every night?

Waking up at the same time every night can happen to anyone.  There are several potential reasons for this:  

  1. A natural awakening at the end of a sleep cycle.  Our sleep occurs in approximately 90-minute cycles, and there is often a brief arousal after the completion of a cycle.  If you are awake for more than 3-5 minutes, you will likely remember the awakening.  Good news!  If this occurs with consistency, it can mean that you are supporting the reliability of your circadian rhythm.
  2. Stress and anxiety.  Elevated stress levels or anxiety can disrupt sleep and cause waking during the night. If you're dealing with stressors or have an anxious mind, you may find yourself waking up at the same time.  Bad news . . . this awakening may be prolonged because you are experiencing stressful and anxious thoughts and feelings.
  3. Environmental factors.  External factors, such as bedpartners, pets, noise, light, or temperature changes, can disrupt your sleep.  Consider your food and beverage consumption as well, particularly the effects of alcohol and caffeine.  If there's a consistent environmental cue around the same time each night, it might be waking you up.
  4. Medical conditions and medications.  Certain medical conditions, such as sleep apnea, acid reflux, or chronic pain, can lead to nighttime awakenings.  Some medications can affect sleep patterns, causing disruptions or waking during the night. If you recently started a new medication, consider whether the timing coincides with your waking pattern.  If you consistently wake up at the same time and it's affecting your overall sleep quality, it's worth discussing with a healthcare professional.

Final thoughts:  keeping a sleep diary, noting your bedtime routines, and documenting factors that might contribute to your waking can also be helpful in detecting the root cause of awakenings, especially if they are bothersome.  



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