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Why do we have to get up at 3 a.m.?

الرئيسية / / Why do we have to get up at 3 a.m.?


© Sergey Mironov / Shutterstock

It's a phenomenon: many people wake up between the hours of 3 and 4 a.m. There is a medical explanation for this. What happens during the "wolf hour" - and what can be done about it - is revealed.

Sleep difficulties affect the majority of people at some point in their lives. Some people have problems falling asleep, while others have no trouble falling asleep but wake up frequently during the night and can't get back to sleep. The manifestations are as diverse as our personalities. There are, however, some abnormalities that sleep doctors see more frequently than others. The so-called "wolf hour" is one of them.

Hormones are to blame for keeping us awake at night.

Do you get up between 3 and 4 a.m. on a regular basis? This isn't a fluke; there's a medical explanation for it.

Waking up at this time is related to our hormone levels, more specifically the interaction of melatonin, serotonin and cortisol. We know melatonin as the "sleep hormone" that our body secretes when it gets dark and then converts it into the "feel-good hormone" serotonin. The release of cortisol is a stress response of the body.

Around 3 a.m., our body temperature is significantly lowered during sleep and our melatonin level is high. At the same time, our cortisol and also serotonin levels are low. Due to this constellation, we lack the anti-stress effect of cortisol and the mood-lifting effect of serotonin. Coupled with the very high melatonin activity, this upsets the hormone balance needed for good sleep - and we wake up more easily.

In addition, the blood flow to our brain is somewhat reduced in certain areas at this time - after all, we are supposed to be asleep. So now when we wake up, we're particularly prone to negative emotions like anxiety, pessimism, and thin skinniness. So not only do we wake up more easily during this phase of the night - but we also find it more difficult to fall back asleep, because we quickly fall into ruminations and negative thought spirals. Sleep researchers call this hour between 3 and 4 o'clock at night "wolf hour" or also "hour of the wolf". This term probably originates from ancient times and is supposed to refer to the period of time in the deepest night when no one is awake except the nocturnal wolves.

What helps you go back asleep at night if you have a sleep disorder? 1. Take a deep breath. The 4-4-4 breathing technique from mindfulness theory is an effective way to relax and return to calmness: Inhale for four seconds, then hold your breath for four seconds before exhaling for four seconds. You'll notice that after a few rounds, you'll be noticeably calmer, and you might even fall asleep again.

2. Read with the light on. Nothing seems to help, and you're lost in horrible meditations that make sleep a distant memory? Then don't bother trying again. After 15 to 20 minutes, experts recommend doing something else. Turning on the light and reading for a few minutes could help you feel exhausted again. 3. get out of bed Isn't that also ineffective? Instead, stand up. But as slowly as possible and with as much care as possible. Slowly sip a glass of water and perhaps take a seat on the couch. To avoid waking up the body unnecessarily, you should not turn on too much light. Also, stay away from your smartphone or laptop unless it has a night mode with a blue light filter that is easier on your eyes.

4. Don't go back to bed until you're tired. Very important: don't go back to bed right away just because you're frustrated and desperate to sleep. This is a vicious circle because in this mood you will hardly get any rest. So don't go back to bed until you are really tired and feel sleepy.

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