The Healthy Hack

Is a 2 am or 3 am waking almost routine nowadays? For some, getting to sleep can be hard enough at the best of times, but when you are constantly waking in the middle of the night for no apparent reason it can be immensely frustrating.  Here’s a look at some of the leading causes of nighttime waking.

Reasons You Wake Up In The Night

Anxiety Or Depression

Anxiety or depression could cause sleeping trouble and result in your waking up at night with panic attacks and nightmares or a feeling of uneasiness. This underlying cause for unrestful sleep can result in your waking up very early in the morning. You’ll probably not bother to go back to sleep again and may end up staying awake for this unearthly hour. Unfortunately, as sleep deprivation builds up, the symptoms of your anxiety or depression are likely to worsen.

Symptoms of Anxiety: While everyone experiences day-to-day anxiety, anxiety disorder or depression is more severe. A problem that doesn’t seem to go away, this disorder can cause you to feel irrational worry or fear and constant, unsubstantiated worry that interferes with day-to-day life.

How to fix the problem: If anxiety or depression is disturbing your sleep, you may need to get professional help. A specialist may recommend cognitive-behavior therapy or medication. Relaxation techniques may also help. Meditation, listening to music, setting a nice wind-down routine at the end of the day, or exercising to ease anxiety may all help you get a good night’s rest.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

GERD is a chronic disorder that causes what you may know as “acid reflux.” This occurs when stomach acid goes the wrong way up into your esophagus. Almost 80 percent of people with GERD have nighttime symptoms and most of them experience interrupted sleep due to these issues. As with sleep apnea, this issue can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night, several hours after you have nodded off.

Symptoms of GERD: Bad taste in the mouth from the reflux, bad breath, nausea, pain swallowing, nighttime heartburn, sore throat, chronic coughs, wheezing, and throat clearing are all signs that you could have GERD.

How to fix the problem: Stick to a sleep schedule, avoid naps after meals (because they worsen symptoms), eat light meals before bedtime, avoid alcohol before sleeping. Caffeine and nicotine are best avoided for up to 8 hours before bedtime.


If you’re getting on in years, your nighttime waking may be the result of growing older. With passing years, it may become more difficult to fall asleep and you may also wake up often at night.

Symptoms of Age-Related Nighttime Wakings: You may end up waking up often at night and even rise very early in the morning. Because you spend less time in the deeper dreamless stage of sleep, you may be more easily woken. On an average, those who are older say they wake up three to four times every night. Need to urinate more, anxiety or pain and discomfort from some chronic conditions may also make the nighttime waking more common.

How to fix the problem: Taking sleep medicines must only be done after consulting a doctor. This is vital because they may also interact with other medication you take. Plus, they’re addictive and you wouldn’t want to run the risk of becoming dependent. If your issues are depression- or anxiety-linked, medication could help you sleep better. On your part, you could also avoid napping in the day, skip television watching before bedtime, perhaps drink some warm milk, and stay off caffeine for several hours before bedtime.


Alcohol is an unusual offender when it comes to restless sleep. While it can get you into a seemingly deep slumber really fast, this doesn’t last. As your body metabolizes and burns through the alcohol, your sleep also begins to become less restful. The result? You’ll stir often and be more stimulated than if you hadn’t drunk that alcohol.

Symptoms of Alcohol-Linked Sleep Trouble: If you find you wake up every time you have a drink in the night, the booze could be to blame!

How to fix the problem: This one is pretty straightforward. Avoid drinking close to bedtime! Or stick to just one glass and no more, and that too well before bedtime. Because your tolerance for the sedative effects of alcohol develops in just a couple of days, you may end up drinking too much to get the same effect.