For those people who hit the snooze button three or four times before really waking up for the day, this might seem like a luxury problem. But the many people who wake long before it’s actually time to rise, and struggle to fall back to sleep, know otherwise.
Waking too early is an incredibly frustrating sleep issue. It can deprive you of the sleep you need, throw your sleep cycle off kilter, and cause a lot of stress.
Are you one of the millions of people who often wakes at three or four a.m. and struggles to fall back to sleep? There are several possible reasons why this might be happening. Let’s look at 5 of the most common ones—and at ways to address this particular sleep problem.
You have insomnia
Many of my patients think of insomnia as first and foremost an inability to fall asleep at bedtime. While it’s true that people with insomnia frequently do have problems falling asleep at night, that’s not the only form of insomnia out there.
Insomnia has not just one, but several symptoms:
Trouble falling asleep
Trouble staying asleep
Experiencing unrestful, unrefreshing sleep
Waking too early
People with insomnia can experience several of these symptoms at once. That’s to say, you might have trouble falling asleep sometimes, and other times wake very early, while also waking frequently throughout the night.
But many people with insomnia have the most trouble at one end or the other of their nightly rest. Some people have trouble falling asleep at night, but don’t wake early in the morning (and in fact may have trouble waking when they need to.) Other people can fall asleep without difficulty but wake way too early in the morning and are unable to fall back asleep.
Concentrated difficulty with nodding off at night is what sleep experts call sleep onset insomnia.