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Expert reveals why people wake up in the middle of the night

Expert reveals why people wake up in the middle of the night

Why do we seem to go over *everything* at 3am?

Waking up in the night can be so frustrating, especially if you're someone who struggles to get back to sleep.

Whether it's a decision you made over a decade ago or an argument you might have had with a mate, many of us tend to spend this time ruminating over *everything*, especially if there's something troublesome on our minds already.

Waking up in the night can be so frustrating.

So, why do we wake up hours before our alarms?

Judging by the way we feel the next morning, it's definitely not down to lack of tiredness.

An expert has weighed in on why this happens, and it actually makes a lot of sense.

Psychology researcher Professor Greg Murray has written an article on the subject, via The Conversation, explaining that it's all to do with our 'neurobiology'.

Murray explains that during a regular night's sleep, we reach a turning point at around 3am.

Our core body temperature begins to rise, our need for sleep is less because we've likely had a good few hours of rest already, and our levels of cortisol are beginning to increase.

Cortisol is the stress hormone, and rises in the morning to help us wake up.

Why do we wake up hours before our alarms?

Murray explains that all of this happens regardless of environmental factors, so even if you have black out blinds for example, you might still find yourself waking in the early hours.

And if you're dealing with a stressful event, the chances of waking up increases further, which explains why people often struggle with unsettled sleep if they've got something on their mind.

Added to this, worrying about needing to be asleep can often make the issue worse.

"Concerns about being awake when one 'should' be asleep can cause the person to jolt themselves into anxious wakefulness whenever they go through a light sleep phase," says Murray.

Apparently it's all to do with our 'neurobiology'.

If you've ever woken in the night only to spend hours trying to solve and overthink a problem, you might be relieved to know this is often fruitless.

"The truth is, our mind isn’t really looking for a solution at 3am," he said.

"We might think we are problem solving by mentally working over issues at this hour, but this isn’t really problem solving; it’s problem solving’s evil twin – worry."

Murray says that if you do find yourself in a cycle of waking up at 3am, meditation can often be a great help.

He also recommends turning on a dim light to read.

"This action may seem mundane, but at 3am it is powerfully compassionate, and can help draw you out of your unproductive thinking," he says.

Featured Image Credit: Oleg Breslavtsev/Filmastax/Getty Images

Topics: Life, Sleep, Health, Mental Health, Advice