Top 3 Hormonal Reasons Why You Are Waking Through the Night

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Ah yes!  It’s that wonderful time of the day where you get into our cozy jammies, hop in your bed with your soft flannel sheets, pull up that perfectly weighted duvet cover and quickly fall asleep, and drift into dreamland.  But, much to your surprise and frustration, you find yourself awake, I mean WIDE awake, anywhere from 2-4 hours later.  You cannot fall back asleep despite all efforts.  You watch each hour pass by on your clock and your anxiety builds knowing your alarm is going to go off soon.  Does this happen to you?  I see this quite frequently in my practice and wanted to share my Top 3 Hormonal Reasons Why You are Waking between 2-4 am through the Night:

  1. Low Progesterone

I frequently see women that begin having sleep issues with peri-menopausal changes or find sleep worse especially the week or two leading up to their menstrual cycle.  One reason this occurs is because of the impact that progesterone can have on our relaxing neurotransmitter, GABA, which helps us with sleep, and reduces anxiety and tension.  So you can imagine, if your body has less progesterone than it is expecting, this will result in less GABA, and can disrupt sleep, particularly sleep maintenance (meaning, more issues with staying asleep, rather than falling asleep).

 2.  Dysregulated Cortisol (stress hormone)

If you are just recently having sleep issues, this is the most likely culprit!  Normally, at night time, melatonin levels will naturally increase, and cortisol (our stress hormone), will naturally be lower (than in the mornings). If you are under acute stress, or you have been under chronic stress, you may notice that you tend to wake up between 2-4 am and have difficulty falling back asleep.  Sometimes, this can also be experienced as waking up earlier than you would naturally want to, like 4 or 5 am.  This is because cortisol can decrease deep slow wave sleep, and shorten sleeping time.  For tips on how to begin regulating your stress response, see our blog here.

3.  Lowering Blood Sugars

For a smaller group of people, you could be having disturbed sleep because of your blood sugar lowering through the night and creating a light, restless sleep.  If you are someone that requires small, frequent meals throughout the day, and then all of a sudden your last food intake is supper, this could be you! It is worth trying to add a healthy, fat and/or protein rich filled snack an hour or so before bed to see if this could improve your sleep.  Examples could include:  apple with nut butter, trail mix, pumpkin seeds, turkey with cheese slices, grapes and cheese, greek yogurt and berries, etc.

Want to get back to a more complete and restful sleep pattern?  Book your naturopathic virtual consult here!

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