Why am I waking up at the same time without an alarm?
March 26, 2008 12:36 PM   Subscribe

sleepfilter: How do I 'reset' my body clock? I'm generally a good sleeper, but I find periodically (and lately), I wake up at the exact same (and weird) time every day.

I usually sleep soundly, and through the night, however every once and a while (and for the past week or so) I wake up at pretty much the exact same odd hour.

This week it has been 5:35 am. There is nothing in my bedroom to disturb my sleep at this time, it just seems that I wake up for some reason. Generally I'm very tired when this occurs and I usually fall back into a very deep sleep (until my alarm goes off 2 hours later)

I'm fascinated by the fact that my body is so precise (generally I wake up at the same time to the minute), but a bit concerned that its trying to tell me something.

Any ideas, or suggestions on how to 'reset' my body clock properly would be helpful.
posted by 3rdparty to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Some more info might be useful here, do you drink a lot of coffee, what time do you go to bed, have you changed anything in your diet recently, new drugs?

And 5:30am is when I wake up for work. I need a new job.
posted by Grither at 12:38 PM on March 26, 2008

Response by poster: Sorry, no coffee, no prescription meds, no notable change in diet or bedtime.

It seems to come and go. When it comes, its generally the same time for a few days in a row (although lately its been a week or so.
posted by 3rdparty at 12:42 PM on March 26, 2008

Is your furnace on a timer? It took a while for my husband and I to figure out why we both woke up at 5:30 every morning. It was the furnace cycling on to warm up the house for our morning routine. We have it on one of those timer dealies and when the clocks changed, we forgot to adjust it accordingly. It's a subtle enough change (in both ambient sound and temperature) but sure enough, it would wake us both up.
posted by macadamiaranch at 12:44 PM on March 26, 2008

Are you drinking more liquids before bed? Anything slightly diuretic like tea? You can be woken up enough for you to decide you don't need to worry about it. Happens to me so often I purposely over drink so it happens early in the night vs. later in the night. At least then I can take care of it and still get some sleep. That two hour nap just doesn't cut it.
posted by jwells at 12:46 PM on March 26, 2008

Best answer: There is nothing in my bedroom to disturb my sleep at this time

Are you sure? You could be woken up by one quick bit of sound that happens before you're conscious. If you're really curious, try setting an alarm for 5 minutes ahead of your normal wakeup time, and then listen to see if anything happens.
posted by vytae at 12:58 PM on March 26, 2008

I think macadamiaranch is on to something here. When we first moved into our home, I used to wake up whenever the train went by. I didn't always identify it with the train, but eventually I realized that's what it was. Then, I realized a truck went by every day about about 4:30 am, but only when school was in session (it turned out it was delivering milk to the elementary school down the street). I've had a few other things pop up like that. Your sleep may be disturbed by an outside noise that is either so unremarkable that you don't recognize it, or so brief as to be done by the time you wake up. Something like that.
posted by Doohickie at 1:02 PM on March 26, 2008

I'm curious about this too - I woke up at 3:10am for about a month for no good reason that I could discern. The reason I find it unlikely that it was due to a noise of some sort is that I lived in a single family house - so the neighbors alarm wasn't waking me - and it was EXACTLY the same time - I don't know about the rest of you, but the trains in my neck of the woods do NOT run on time. It was weird.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:29 PM on March 26, 2008

Response by poster: macadamiaranch - no timer on my furnace, however I may try turning it off overnight to see if that makes a difference. Its slightly possible that it is kicking in at the same time, however I am generally a deep sleeper.

jwells - I do tend to drink water before bed, however rarely drink tea. I have found that I am getting up more in the past year or so to go to the bathroom, but I think (hope) its just because I'm getting older. This morning I decided to go to the bathroom even though I really didnt have to because I was up already.

I think I may have to explore the sound thing a bit more - our walls are pretty thin, so its possible that a neighbours alarm is going off and the slight sound is waking me up. I may try setting an alarm for 5:30am to see if I notice anything happening at 5:35am.

I can't tie it to a specific time though, because the last time this type of thing was occuring, it was a completely different time (around 3ish in the morning) and I'm fairly certain that I awoke at the same time in a different location (ruling out an environmental disturbance)
posted by 3rdparty at 1:45 PM on March 26, 2008

Do you have any allergies? I wake up around 5:30 am every morning for no reason... until I woke up earlier and sat around watching the Tube, *bam* 5:30 every morning is eyes go funky and nose starts to drip. Like clockwork. I live next to a hospital/firehouse and sleep through (or just barely wake up to) sirens and helicopters all night, but the 5:30 thing always wakes me up and it goes away when I'm away on a business trip.

I also have a conformational bias wake up at 3:14 in the morning... like my brain just wants to see PI on the clock...
posted by zengargoyle at 2:43 PM on March 26, 2008

it's the bird's goddamit, THE BIRDS!

That is if you are lucky enough to live near a wood, pretty much 5.15 for me

Is the weather warmer allowing you to sleep with the window open?
posted by Wilder at 4:02 PM on March 26, 2008

I have been having this happen recently, as well, at about 5:35 each morning. It's a terrible time, too: I should be able to sleep until 7:45, so waking up at 5:35 just ruins my sleep. No discernible changes have taken place—and I tried getting up earlier to see what it is, as well. Fright trains run at 2:00 AM and 6:15 AM. There is a woodyard near my house (half a mile), but the trucks don't run until 8:30 AM.

It's odd.
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:06 PM on March 26, 2008

Weird coincidence, I was just talking to a friend about this phenomenon today. This happens to me periodically. It usually starts when I am awakened at an odd hour by some unusual event. About a month ago our cat woke me up by knocking some bottles over at 3am. Then, every night for the next week I woke up at exactly that same time. It stopped when I stayed up really late one night, almost until three. Then I was so tired that I think my body just nixed the early wake up.

I'd say this happens to me a couple of times a year. It usually takes me being really exhausted to reset my internal clock.
posted by otolith at 5:30 PM on March 26, 2008

I imagine there are lots of causes, but one could be anxiety and depression. That's fairly common in major depressive episodes. Sounds more temporary in your case, but is something to consider. Since exhaustion and sleep cycles can be tied into life stresses and brain chemistry, maybe something similar is going on with you from time to time on a lighter scale.

I remember Dr. Wayne Dwyer talking about this on one of his PBS shows that used to come on around pledge time. He said he too woke up at the exact same minute in the middle of the night every night. He fought it for a while and eventually gave into it and would get up and do some of his best work then. He said he didn't know why he needed to be awake then, but his body certainly did, so who was he to argue.

I too think the precision is the most interesting part.
posted by kookoobirdz at 9:01 PM on March 26, 2008

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