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What waking up in the middle of the night might reveal about your health

Did you know that “Why can’t I sleep?” is one of the most google searched topics each year?  It's also probably one of the most frequently asked questions by your personal coach at Forge Valley Fitness!

Whether you have insomnia, trouble falling asleep, or you just can’t sleep through the night, it’s worth taking a look at what might be causing some of the issues.


Did you know that lack of sleep is one of the four causes of body fat increase? With stress, undiagnosed food allergies, and over consumption of carbohydrates being the other three... undiagnosed food intolerances can also cause sleep issues because the body is stressed and then releases cortisol - the hormone that is supposed to wake you up in the morning!

Many people report they wake up at pretty much the same time night after night. This is what we’re going to look at today. In short, the time you wake up in the middle of the night might reveal details about your health that you wouldn’t expect.

(As a sidenote, if you wake up in the night but are able to nod back off to sleep right away, then put your worries aside. You’re probably fine (but could also indicate a magnesium deficiency). But, if night after night you’re awake for an hour (let alone three) in the middle of the night, then it might be worth taking a look at what you could fix in your diet and emotionally to stop that from happening).

9 p.m. -11 p.m. Wake-up

 This may indicate that the thyroid is doing something funky. Early stages of sleep are when our endocrine system is essentially working to re-balance itself, so if you’re waking up something could be up with your thyroid or adrenals.  How to help? Add iodine (iodized sea salt) to your diet, along with some ginseng or a potent multi vitamin earlier in the day of course!

Often, it just means you’re having a hard time settling down your body and brain enough to actually get into a deep sleep. In other words, too much adrenaline is pumping through your body to rest properly.

11 p.m. - 1 a.m. Wake-up

Ideally you want to eat about 2 hours before you go to bed (sleep is for sleeping, not detox or digestion), so if you’re an early-to-bed type and you wake up before 1 a.m., this could mean you are experiencing reactive hypoglycemia and need to add more fat and fiber in your last meal and/or control the amount of carbohydrates consumed.   

This could also mean your gall bladder is irritated—which is needed for digestion and absorption.  One potential solution is to avoid eating late-night dinners and late-night snacking.

If you’re into alternative explanations, traditional Chinese medicine says the gall bladder is associated with anxiety and resentment, so maybe something is making you anxious or resentful enough to wake you up.

1 a.m. - 3 a.m. Wake-up

This is the time of night that your body is cleaning itself out and removing waste from your blood stream and tissues. In other words, your liver is working in overdrive. If you’re waking up during this time, it could be your liver isn’t happy. Which means it might not have the substrate required for the processes to detox itself, ie, magnesium, zinc, D3 in sufficient quantities to make a dent in poor diet choices.

I know whenever I drink booze and don’t drink enough water, I generally always wake up in this time frame. Consider drinking more water before you go to bed.

But a glass of wine makes you fall asleep more easily, right?

Alcohol does tend to make you sleepy, but the effects don’t last through the night. Once the alcohol has been broken down and metabolized, your body thinks your sleep is over and your brain gets stimulated. Boom, you wake up—often between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m.

An alternative explanation is that you’re full of negative emotions and stress that isn’t getting to flush itself out as it should.

3 a.m. - 5 a.m. Wake-up

In the final stages of the night, your muscles get pumped with blood and oxygen to replenish them. So if you’re waking up then, something could be going on with oxidative stress from training or lifestyle practices. Taking anti-oxidants like will help with this, along with a detox supplement protocol. If you’re coughing, it could be a sign that you need to breathe healthier air. Go outside and get some fresh air during the day.

Waking up at this time is also associated with feelings of sadness.

5 a.m. - 7 a.m.

If you’re not able to sleep anymore after 5 a.m. it could mean something is up with your large intestine, which is responsible for cleaning the body of toxic waste from your digestive system. Try drinking more water during the day!

Some believe if you wake up at this time you might be feeling emotionally blocked or restricted in some way, which could be a sign that you need to let go of some kind of burdening emotions or guilt.

How do I fix these problems?

Well, my first suggestion is going to be heal your gut, or at least take a look at your gut health, you can read my article HERE on this topic.

But if you don't want to read that article, here's the quick and dirty supplement recommendations:

  • HCL (digestive enzymes and acid) with every solid protein meal -note that in certain cases that you already get hearburn, it may mean you actually aren't producing enough at the right time.

  • Vitamin D3 5000IU twice a week

  • Omega 3 High potency fish oil (high DHA&EPA) 1g fish oil per percentage body fat per day (15-30)

  • Magnesium (very important substrate for many detoxifcation processes in the liver) 4g for a 90kg male or 2.5g for 60kg female per day

  • Zinc 250mg per day a for 90kg male and 160mg for a 60kg female

And finally of course a solid multi vitamin. Now you can try and get these dosages from searching around the internet or your local health food store, or you can ask me (Garth) or your coach to help you out with a supplement protocol that makes sense for you, and we have all these supplements available to you in the potencies and trusted brands in stock!

Of course, there are some debates on causes of sleeplessness, but if drinking more water, tweaking your diet, or looking into what’s holding you back emotionally helps you sleep through the night, then it’s worth a shot looking into it, right?

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