Why Do I Keep Waking Up At 3am?

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While there are many people who suffer from a sleeping disorder of some kind, there are quite a few people that find themselves waking up in the middle of the night, unable to go back to sleep again. Waking up constantly in the middle of the night or in a sequence of nights can be a sleeping disorder all on its own, but therapists have discovered that the most common sleep concern or question is "why do I keep waking up at 3am?".

You would think that there may be a specific psychological reason behind waking up at such a precise time, but actually the reason is based on a belief from Traditional Chinese Medicine.

What Traditional Chinese Medicine Says About Waking Up At 3am

It was said by Marianna Kilburn in "Waking at 3am", that one of the main understandings in Traditional Chinese Medicine was that our body's internal organs seem to work to a 24 hour 'clock' in which the purposes of each organ are heightened during certain parts of the day.

For example, the stomach carries out the most of its functions between 7am and 9am and the bladder is most active between 3pm and 5pm. Should there be consistent problems at a certain time of day, there may be something off with the associated organ.

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The organ that is working the 1am to 3am shift is the liver.

In most cases, the liver is acting up because it does not have enough glycogen to produce energy. The reason that a body may not have enough glycogen is because the body had already spent most of it when creating adrenaline during the day. Your body should not be generating adrenaline very often, but if it does, it is usually during times of stress.

Getting Your Sleep Schedule Back On Track

To regain the balance in your system, you must focus on the body functions involved in glycogen production.

First, eat healthier meals and reduce your consumption of alcohol, junk food, and drugs similar to painkillers. This will help the liver better produce the glycogen.

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Second, keep your adrenaline throughout the day pretty low. This means cutting out sugar and caffeine from your diet. This also means reducing your use of technology around bedtime and spending that time to perform meditation or breathing exercises. This will lessen your stress, which will keep adrenaline levels to a minimum and leaving enough glycogen for the liver.

Third, balance your blood sugar levels. To do this, you should eat meals regularly, but avoid foods with refined sugar and carbohydrates. Ideal foods to eat are foods with protein such as nuts, oats, and bananas.

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Other Reasons For An Irregular Sleep Schedule

If you feel like that there is something more pressing that is keeping you from having a good night's sleep, you may want to consult a therapist at BetterHelp. Through this online therapy service, you can receive assistance from a certified professional at any time.


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