The Reason You Keep Waking Up At 3 A.m.

There's nothing more important than getting your beauty sleep — it's called beauty sleep for a reason. That's why it's so frustrating when you can't get to sleep or find yourself waking up at 3 a.m. once you do. Why the middle of the night wake-up call? Many can blame it on a clinically-diagnosed sleep disorder like insomnia, but the rest of us spend too many hours trying to Google the answer for ourselves. 


According to neuroscientist Matthew Walker in his 2017 book, Why We Sleep, for those of us who don't have a sleep disorder, the reason for sleep deficiency or disruption can be hard to pinpoint. While late night TV and your latest Netflix obsession can damage quality of sleep, Walker claims "five key factors have powerfully changed how much and how well we sleep."

This is what disrupts your sleep

These are the key factors Walker has identified that may cause disruption to your precious sleep, and prompt a 3 a.m. awakening:

Constant electric light and LED: From the light on your phone to the light in the kitchen, light affects the quality of our sleep. Be sure to put your phone on night mode and use mood lighting around the house after dark to minimize disruption. Oh, and wear a night mask.


Regularized temperature: It's easier to fall asleep in a room that is too cold than too hot. According to the National Sleep Foundation, you should aim for around 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. 

Caffeine: The quarter life of one shot of caffeine is 12 hours. "If you drink a coffee at noon, at midnight a quarter of that caffeine is still in your brain," Walker told Financial Times, claiming it takes between 24 and 36 hours to leave your body completely. Drink your coffee as early as possible or opt for decaf.

Alcohol: Say no to a nightcap. Alcohol fragments sleep, waking you up continuously throughout the night, and deprives you of REM sleep (your dreams).

A legacy of punching time cards: In other words, waking up for work rather than waking up naturally. To ensure you get enough sleep before your alarm goes off, Walker suggests going to sleep and waking up at the same time everyday (yes, even on weekends).