Why Do I Wake Up Early For No Reason? This Is What Your Body Is Trying To Tell You

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It's happened to all of us at some point or another; waking up after what feels like a good night's sleep, only to find that it's still the middle of the night. It can feel so frustrating to wake up hours before the alarm goes off, especially when we can’t get back to sleep. If you find yourself wondering why you're waking up early for no reason, there could be something your body is trying to tell you. And listening to it may help you fix the issue. While super early morning awakenings are totally normal from time to time, if you find that they happen a lot, or with increasing frequency, it might be a sign that your body is trying to tell you something.

Verywell Health suggests that there can be a number of reasons why you’re waking up too early every morning, and there may be either physical or mental health issues at play. Racing thoughts, dwelling on worries, and stressing about the demands of the day ahead can all contribute to “sleep maintenance insomnia”, according to Harvard Health, which is a specific type of sleep disorder in which you can fall asleep, but have trouble staying asleep. A common feature of the disorder is waking up too early without being able to doze off again, and it tends to affect women more often than men — especially as life gets increasingly complex as we get older. Verywell Health also notes that certain brain chemicals that regulate our circadian rhythms and encourage deep sleep, start to decrease in the wee hours of the morning, which is why early morning awakenings associated with sleep maintenance insomnia can be a little tricky to resolve.

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Folks managing certain mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, PTSD, and bipolar disorder may also be prone to waking up too early. Verywell Health notes that addressing underlying mental health conditions can be a helpful step in managing insomnia, and studies suggest that cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTI) can help. And some people may benefit from medications while others won’t need them, depending on your health condition and your unique set of needs.

If you feel chronically tired on an ongoing basis, in addition to finding yourself awake before the sun's up, sleep apnea could also be a factor. Sleep apnea is a common culprit for waking up too early, and many folks deal with the disorder without realizing that they have it. Verywell Health explains that sleep apnea is most likely to occur during the REM stage of sleep, when our muscles are paralyzed in order to prevent dreaming-induced physical movements. This muscle paralysis can also contribute to disrupted breathing patterns, which can cause too-shallow breathing and pauses in breaths. These breathing disruptions also lessen our quality of sleep, and can contribute to chronic early morning awakenings and insomnia.

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Identifying the underlying factors that may be contributing to your waking up too early is key to devising sleep strategies for better rest. Stress, mood and mental health disorders, and certain physical conditions can all present challenges to your sleep. The good news is, treatments like CBTI are shown to be super effective for treating insomnia without the use of sleep medication. If you take medications for mental health management, though, make sure to check in with your doctor before making any changes to your treatment plan. Regardless of what the source of your sleep disturbances might be, awareness combined with effective treatments can help restore your sleep, and have you slumbering away in no time.