Do You Wake Up at 2AM? Is it Depression? Or is it...?
Has this happened to you? You go to sleep easily, but 2 AM comes around and your eyes pop open. You are totally awake, but you know you need more sleep. You look at the clock and groan, you have to be up at 5 am to get ready for work, and you know you will be groggy, irritable, and fuzzy-brained if you can't get back to sleep.
Your mind searches for the reason why you can't sleep. You go over your recent fight with your husband, word for word, over and over. Or you agonize over the poor grade you got on that test. You may discover problems you didn't even know you had - not enough time to yourself, too much stress, too little respect from your family or coworkers.
The negative thoughts charge on, and you stay wide awake.
Is it depression? Is it stress? Do you need sleeping pills, or anti-depressants?
Maybe. But before you begin medicating yourself, try this simple experiment. Don't eat any sugar for a week, and don't drink any alcohol after 5 in the afternoon.
You may discover that you can sleep just fine, just by making those simple changes.
If you eat that big piece of chocolate cake or sip that glass of whiskey just before going to bed, your blood stream will be bombarded with the extra sugar (Yes, I know that alcohol and sugar aren't the same, but they both cause the 2 am wake-up problem, for the same reason).
Too much sugar (or too much alcohol) in the blood stream is a dangerous situation, and your body will pull out all it's forces to fight the "enemy." Unfortunately, the battle is fought too aggressively, so by 2 am your blood stream has too little glucose. And your brain needs glucose. Your brain realizes that there's a big problem, so you need to wake up.
Protein can be reprocessed into glucose to feed the brain, but it takes time. In the meantime, you lie there awake, with an imbalance in your brain chemistry that tends to cause a rehashing of everything negative from your day.
Your brain is looking for the cause of the problem but can't find it, unless you understand that the 2 am wakening might be caused by sugar or alcohol. The chances are fairly high that your doctor will not ask you what you ate or drank if you go to him for help. Since you don't know to look at your diet for a clue to the problem, your brain looks everywhere else - at the state of your marriage, at your financial situation, at your children's school grades, at your career prospects...
Next time you wake up too early, think about what you ate and drank last night. By finding the real cause of your insomnia, you may be able to save yourself a trip to the doctor. You may even give yourself an excuse for a healthier lifestyle at the same time.