How do I prevent waking up early in the morning?

This question was asked in Castle Rock, Colorado on 02/20/2013.
I do not feel ill, I am not tired during the day, and I do not snore. Why do I wake up between 3AM and 5AM almost every morning? It feels like I have a faster pulse rate. Sometimes I can go back to sleep, but sometimes I cannot. Is it possible that I just slow down my breathing and wake up? I do sleep well. This has been going on for a while, but I am just looking for some help. I do have insurance, but I was told they do not cover sleep studies. Any help? Thank you.

Doctors Answers (5)

Jana P. Kaimal, MD, FCCP
Answered on: 4/5/2013 7

It is possible that you are going to bed too early at night. It is possible, over the course of time, to adjust your sleep/wake patterns. By starting slowly, 15 minute adjusts every few days, in the matter of a couple of weeks your body can adjust.

Daron Scherr, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 4/5/2013 1

You are likely getting all the sleep you need. I sleep 4.5 hours per night with a bedtime of 2:30am.

We perform home sleep studies for free for patients worried about sleep related breathing disorders.

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 2/28/2013

Awakening at 3 AM is common and normal but not being able to return to sleep is the problem. By 3 AM you have generally satisfied your major sleep debt and if there is anything mental or physical that is bothersome then you have trouble finishing the night of sleep which is when most of the REM sleep occurs. Between 3 and 5 AM your cortisol levels begin to rise in preparation for the day. This is when sleep apnea is most common (during REM sleep) in many individuals. Apnea leads to the heart racing. It is unusual for insurance not to cover sleep studies which is what you need. You may wish to review your policy to see what other common serious medical and/or surgical disorders are not covered. Also, you may be getting all the sleep you need and awakening between 3 and 5 AM is just fine as you say you feel well all day.

Courtney Whitney, DO
Answered on: 2/21/2013

Most people satisfy their sleep need in 8 hours. Occasionally, I will meet someone who needs less. Our wake time is often dictated by our circadian rhythm, but early morning awakening can be due to an arousal disorders like sleep apnea, anxiety or stress. Your rapid heart rate could be due to changes in breathing-it seems odd that your insurance doesn't cover sleep studies ( I have not heard of that) but an inexpensive way to check heart rate and oxygen is overnight oximetry (which is relatively inexpensive). Good luck PS. Also be sure to review sleep hygiene and turn your clock away from you to avoid checking the time.

SomnoDiagnostics, Inc.
Answered on: 2/21/2013

Thank you for the question. We would require additional information such as medication routinely taken, bedtime, etc. to have a better understanding. We would be happy to schedule a consultation with Dr. Gibson that does not require a sleep study.