There are several other reasons for waking up around this time but clinically I have seen low blood sugar as being the most common. If having a snack before bed doesn’t cut it and you’re still waking up in the middle of the night you should definitely talk to your Naturopath or Medical Doctor about it, especially if you're having other symptoms. Many people say eating before bed will cause you to gain weight but a small snack may actually help you lose weight as I discuss further down.
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Snacks that help fall asleep and stay asleep
A piece of bread with peanut butter (optimally peanut butter with >5g of protein per serving)
Legumes like chick peas, beans, nuts, seeds
Soup or stew
Protein shake or protein bar
Veggies, crackers or pita dipped in hummous.
Stay away from simple carbs and sugary snacks like fruit before bed as they’ll just temporarily elevate your blood sugar and it will come crashing down soon after, increasing the likelihood of hypoglycemia while you’re sleeping.
How low blood sugar wakes us up at night
Reasons why we wake up in the middle of the night
A restless partner
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) - I'll be blogging about this soon!
Congestive Heart Failure
Sleep paralysis, hypnopomp, astral catalepsy, whatever you want to call it.
Nutrient deficiency (Iron most commonly)
Respiratory conditions like COPD, Lung cancer, etc…
High or low blood pressure
Segmented sleep, bimodal sleep pattern, biphasic or polyphasic sleep
Pelvic floor weakness
Medication side effect
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, waking up between 1-3am could indicate your liver needs attention. This could be due to anger issues, dietary, excess alcohol, etc… Sometimes just doing acupuncture, taking Chinese herbs or dealing with diet or anger can completely resolve sleep-maintenance insomnia.
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Dr Justin Gallant ND