A recent European study showed 1/3rd of adults surveyed wake up at 3 am more than 3 nights a week. 


Nothing is worse than feeling like a light switch flipped you on at 3 am.

As much as you fight it – it’s hard not to open your eyes to peak at the clock. 

And as soon as you do it’s that familiar time between 2-4am. 

Then the flood of thoughts come in.

Not again.

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I’m already tired.

I better remember that Suzy needs this and Jackie needs that.

Oh and I better get coffee at the store and Q-tips.


Why these thoughts now?

And for some the “awake switch” comes with the heat of a night sweat. 

Why does this keep happening?

  • Cortisol spiking too early
  • Not enough serotonin in the system
  • Liver working extra hard to detox
  • Lungs trying to balance your pH
  • Blood sugar dropping off
  • Potassium deficiencies
  • Not enough magnesium to help with the body’s nightly metabolism

In Chinese Medicine 1-3 am is the time when the liver is most active while 3-5 am is time for the lung.

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Both the liver and lung are know for being organs that help with metabolism and detox.

The liver sorts and sifts digested items that have been absorbed – like the wine you drank the night before with the steak and baked potato.

While the lung is busy working to balance the pH of your body by adjusting your breathing and signaling to your kidneys at the same time. 

If you have sleep apnea or snore often you may find that 3-5 am is a common wake up time for you. 

Another factor that plays out in sleep is cortisol. 

The body uses cortisol to wake you up and it’s on the rise from 3-4a on it’s way to peak release at 8a. 

For some folks the cortisol starts to rise even earlier. 

If you’re stressed or you’re experiencing blood sugar imbalances – cortisol can mess with your sleep.

This is why many folks are driven to wake up and eat in the middle of the night!

When you’re in peri-menopause and menopause decreased levels of the estrogen, estradiol, can decrease serotonin production leading to inability to sleep through the night. 

Progesterone deficiencies due to chronically elevated cortisol can also mess with getting and staying asleep. 


And then there’s the bladder waking you up from either too much liquid before bed or a need for potassium.

Yes, potassium deficiencies can cause you to wake up and need to go to the bathroom at night!

I love using Cream of Tartar (Potassium Bitartrate) at 1/4 tsp in water after dinner to help my patients not wake up at night.

While that trick doesn’t work for everyone it’s worth a try to see if there’s a connection. 

Magnesium deficiencies are another common factor for 2-4a wake ups.

It’s not uncommon to blow through magnesium when you’re stressed, eating more carbs, more physically or mentally active during a day. 

Increased carbohydrate consumption during the day increases the need for more magnesium to help get the carbs into the cells to make energy.

If you’re using up your magnesium stores during the day…

…your cellular “night shift” gets crabby and can wake you up!

Sometimes in the form of leg cramps…not cool!

Which leads me to other vitamins and minerals like iron, B12, B6 and folate– all key factors in helping the body with metabolism and detox as well as preventing cramps

As DNA testing becomes more advanced I’m finding it more and more valuable to pair it with nutrient testing to fully evaluate one’s metabolic and sleep health. 

Today on my podcast I’m diving deeper into the cause of the 2-4 am wake up why it’s something to evaluate further if you’re not able to fall back asleep!

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Here’s to your sleep health,

Dr. J

Jannine Krause

Get back to your wild, active, vibrant self

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