Waking Up Too Early? How to Go Back to Sleep With Ease

If you’re like me, you may frequently wake up an hour or two before youempty bed - can't sleep
intend to rise and then stare at the clock in frustration.  “Why am I waking up so early?” You fume and toss about fruitlessly, often giving up and getting out of bed early to start your day, rationalizing that you’ll get a lot more done before anyone else is up.

But the irritation remains.  You wish you knew how to go back to sleep, but you haven’t found the key. Sometimes you may wake up startled – as if you suddenly realized you’re late for work or you heard a  sudden crash.

Your mind is on full alert for no apparent reason. Or sometimes you have the faintest touch of a headache or feel a full-blown migraine coming on.

It’s maddening!

I’ve been through this many times. Many people with these symptoms have hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) which is frequently accompanied by hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

Your Brain Is Starving While You Sleep

What happens is that hypothyroidism sufferers don’t create and store energy in their bodies very well.  Many have not been officially diagnosed, or their thyroid hormone tests may show them as “normal” but they know they have the symptoms nonetheless. (Sometimes the standard tests don’t reveal low thyroid, but that’s a subject for another post.)

Anyway, because you may not store energy well, it is difficult for your brain to go without food during the 7 to 8 hours you should be asleep.   Typically, about 5 hours into your sleep, your body will suddenly sense that your brain isn’t getting sufficient fuel, and your adrenal glands will force sugar into your bloodstream to feed your brain.

How does it do this?  By releasing adrenaline.  Yes, the very same hormone that makes your heart pound and your pulse race when you’re about to take an important test or you see a small child step toward the street.

This hormone engulfs your brain around 4 am and makes you wake with a start as if someone just tapped you on the shoulder, or worse, hit you over the head.  And it’s very difficult to go back to sleep after that.

As a result of this rush of hormones, your brain now has the blood sugar it needs to function and your body can step down the alert system.

But there’s a better way.

How to Get Back to Sleep Naturally

I’ve studied my own hypothyroidism and hypoglycemia for years, so I understand why this happens to me. It happens less often than it used to, partly because just knowing WHY it happens makes me less startled when I do wake up and sometimes I can go back to sleep on my own.

But sometimes I can’t. So I was very happy in my research to come across the author Tom Brimeyer, a functional medicine practitioner and former hypothyroid sufferer, who has put years of study into finding natural remedies for hypothyroidism and creating a system to help others overcome it as well.

Frankly, I was surprised to see him recommend fruit juice to help orange juicesufferers get back to sleep at night. You have to understand that most books and experts on low thyroid discuss fruit juices and sugar of any kind is the LAST thing that hypothyroid sufferers should ingest.

I get that.  You see, fruit juice is technically not a whole food.  It is primarily the concentrated sugar from fruit.  And well-intentioned doctors and authors want to steer patients toward whole fruit and whole foods, which are best for everyone MOST of the time.

Fruit Juice Reduces Your Adrenal Panic

But Tom Brimeyer understands that when you have hypothyroidism your liver does not release glycogen (sugar) properly while you sleep to keep your brain functioning well. Some authors may tell you to get up and eat plain yogurt, which is a whole food but doesn’t help much.

That’s because, by the time your adrenal glands go into a low-sugar panic at night, it’s impossible for something other than concentrated sugar to feed your brain quickly enough to get you back on track and turn off the alert system.

Now, sipping fruit juice when you go to the bathroom at 3 am (like I do) or again at 4:30 to put you back to sleep for 2 hours may not sound like a long-term solution, but it’s actually pretty nice in the short term.

Why?  Because it creates an upward spiral.  For instance, for several nights recently, I have taken a small, lidded cup of all-natural orange juice or grape juice (just an ounce or two) and put it within easy reach when I go to bed.  I’ve been sipping from it a couple of times in the night, most importantly at that 4 or 4:30 juncture when I’m suddenly fully awake, and I’ve been able to sleep for another 1 or 2 hours!

What a difference this makes! Then when I wake up around 6 am, I don’t have a headache brewing from a lack of hydration or sugar, so I don’t have to jump out of bed to eat right away.  I can lay leisurely for a few minutes and feel rested and eager to start my day.  Then when I do get up, the sun is up with me (for a change) and I feel productive and vital.

Start Your Day Feeling Strong

And because my body isn’t striving to overcome a blood sugar deficit, I feel healthier and stronger and feel my body working better than it did before.  And I know I’m on the right track.

I’m thankful to Tom Brimeyer for this tip from his Hypothyroidism Revolution program, which teaches us how to use the science of food to open our hormone pathways and overcome the stress and environmental hazards that keep us from living the life we want with the energy we need.

Tom reveals how his own suffering forced him to develop this unique program and how it has changed the lives of his clients. You can listen to Tom here or click on the ad to the right.

I look forward to reaping the benefits of this program in my own life and sharing the results with you.

I’d love to hear from you.  Please leave your comments below.

Talk to you soon,

Jen

20 thoughts on “Waking Up Too Early? How to Go Back to Sleep With Ease

  1. Hi Jen. I have been catching up on reading your articles and I really thought the one on “Waking Up too Early” was helpful. I am definitely going to try the fruit juice and keep it by my bed. Thanks so much 🙂

    1. Hi Luanne! Glad you’re enjoying my articles! Yeah, I sip on grape juice every night when I’m up and it gets me back to sleep and keeps me from waking up in the morning with a low blood sugar headache as well. Hope you give it a try! Thanks for stopping by and hope to see you again soon! Jen

  2. Wow, so fruit juice is a good idea in this instance. I absolutely HATE not been able to get to sleep after waking up in the middle of the night. I’m liking the benefits that you mentioned.

    I usually feel extremely sluggish when I get up (well most of us do), but you said that we feel a lot stronger in the morning if we drink fruit juice in the middle of the night, so this might be a viable option for me to try.

    I’m all for improving my life and you have some great suggestions here, so thanks a lot. I’ll be taking these tips on board and trying them out ASAP.

    Cheers,
    Brandon

    1. Hi, Brandon! Yeah, sometimes the body needs the concentrated natural sugar that juice provides, especially when thyroid problems are an issue.

      I would suggest that you try it if you wake frequently in the middle of the night. If it helps you, you’ll know you’re healing your metabolism, and if it doesn’t, no harm done.

      Just try to limit it to 1-2 ounces for the whole night (just a finger or two depth in your cup or glass).

      Good luck and thanks!

  3. Great article. It makes me happy to see a remedy that has nothing to do with drugs or some type of synthetic supplement. Just straight juice. Thanks for the info.

  4. Hi Jen,
    So drinking some orange juice helps getting back to sleep in the middle of the night. I will try that next time. It really sucks when you’re up. Sometimes I have to read something until I get tired again. Also, what about warm milk? Cheers.

    1. Hi, Xdeem! Warm milk may help as well. Some say it’s the comforting ritual as much as anything in the milk that puts one to sleep. My understanding is if you have some carbs with the milk – perhaps a little honey – that the amino acids in the milk will reach your brain better for a calming effect.

  5. I really enjoyed this article. I have a problem falling asleep and staying asleep. I usually sleep about 4 hours and wake up and can’t go back to sleep. I’m not sure I have a thyroid problem, but do you think sipping juice would help me?

    1. Hi, Donna! You may want to try sipping juice and see if it helps. Use juice that is 100% natural – no added sugar or artificial sweeteners.

      Natural juice has helpful minerals such as potassium, sodium, and magnesium. And if it helps you go to sleep or stay asleep, that in itself may confirm that you do have a thyroid issue, which is really an issue with metabolism and is common to many people.

      I use just an ounce or two of juice for the whole night. Little sips are all it takes. Good luck!

  6. Hi, my sleeping pattern is very sporadic. I also have trouble sleeping for longer periods of time, I average 3-4 hours maximum before waking.

    Part of my trouble is I am diabetic and sometimes suffer from night time hypos, which thankfully, I do wake up and can deal with.

    One of the things I also do takes some fluid in before bedtime, I find, like yu have mentioned, that I am less likely to have a headache this way upon waking.

    1. Hi, Neil! A large part of this is just learning what works for you. Sounds like you are dealing with your issues well.

      Hydration is important for sustained sleep I’ve learned. I like to sip filtered water at night as well. Also washes down the juice taste, which can become sour after a while.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Hi Jen,

    Sometimes I have the problem of waking up around four or five in the morning just laying in bed hoping to go back to sleep which I eventually do within 30 minutes or so. Most nights I sleep through the night.

    This is very interesting information. I did not know that the brain would be starving for food in the middle of the night while you sleep. The tips are informative. I will let my brother know about these tips. He has problems sleeping most nights.

    Thanks for this post.

    1. Hi, Rosa! I’m glad you found this helpful.

      Normally, the liver is supposed to release glycogen (sugar) to feed the brain while one sleeps. But for many people, this doesn’t work well due to metabolism and thyroid issues, which become more common as we age, and through stress.

      The juice remedy has worked better for me than anything else. Good luck to your brother and I wish you the best as well!

  8. Thanks Jen! This may be the answer to my problems. I will test this out and get back to comment. I suppose not everyone has this difficulty.

    What do you know about the connection some Asthma sufferers experience with blood sugar? I read about this, when I was having low blood sugar issues. I do not suffer from Asthma, but I have family members who do.

    Lynne

    1. Hi, Lynne! I hope the juice helps you. Please let me know how it goes!

      As for asthma and blood sugar, some experts say that too much processed sugar in the diet can bring on asthma attacks because it causes inflammation of the airways.

      Also, there seems to be a connection between diabetes and asthma which is not well-understood yet.

      It’s clear that too little or too much sugar in the blood stream both cause problems and it can be hard to get the balance right.

      I want to point that what Tom Brimeyer and his Hypothyroidism Revolution program recommend is using natural fruit juices in VERY SMALL quantities to nourish the brain and heal the liver.

      All-natural juice (unlike processed sugar) has many beneficial vitamins and minerals and can be used sparingly to maintain sleep and restore metabolism over time.

      This is part of Tom’s comprehensive program which you can link to in my article if you’d like to take a look.

      Thanks Lynn, and I wish you all the best!

  9. Fabulous! Great work on a very important subject. This was an enormous issue for me that I had to finally choose to prioritize and make it bigger than my other habits. I would wake at least twice each night and felt horrible every morning, even if I’d slept for 9 or 10 hours. But I kicked alcohol, created a new morning (and evening) routine, took electronics and work out of my bedroom … all the things “they” tell you to do. After some time … it caught. It’s now rare that I don’t sleep well, and I’ve never felt better or been more productive.
    Keep up your great work!
    Kevin

    1. Hi, Kevin! I know what you mean by needing to prioritize sleep. For many years, I made other things a priority at times and suffered for it. Nothing is more important. Yeah, getting electronics and work out of the bedroom is key, and having a solid routine really helps as well. Glad you’re feeling good and productive. Thanks for your comments!

  10. Something I do which helps me sleep and get to sleep is drinking my casein protein shake. The nights I forget or do not drink it, I have a hard time sleeping. Something about having protein slowly being absorbed by my body at night is a very peaceful mindset for me.

    1. Hi, Kurtis! I have read that casein protein is good for sleep because it is slowly released through the night. It’s also shown to help the body burn fat at night. Thanks for sharing!

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