Why You May Be Waking Up At 4 am Every Day: Sleep Cycles, Hormones, and Other Factors

Last updated: September 13th, 2023

Waking Up At 4 am Every Day? Here's Why

Do you wake up at the same time each night, whether it's 1 a.m., 3 a.m., or 4 in the morning? Waking up during the night is fairly common, with over 35% of people waking up during the night at least three times per week.

It's possible a variety of factors, all intersecting with your natural body rhythms, are causing you to wake up at the same time every day. It could be stress, pain, hormones, medications, or insomnia. Here's what you need to know about why you may be waking up at 4 a.m.

Sleep Cycle, Hormones, and More

Environmental factors, such as a partner snoring, a change in the room temperature, or a loud car driving by, may wake you up momentarily from sleep. Usually, people fall back asleep easily and don't worry about it. If you are waking up at the same time each night or waking up frequently throughout the night and struggling to fall back asleep, it could be due to factors beyond your environment.

Waking up frequently at night often occurs alongside physical and mental disorders, and tends to increase with age. Once you understand possible reasons you are waking up during the night, you will know when to talk to your doctor if it continues.

A variety of factors could cause a person to wake up each night when they would prefer to be asleep. These factors might be related to sleep cycles and rhythms as well as hormones, medications, and stress. Many people's sleep is disturbed by factors such as insomnia, pain, age, hormones, and medications.


Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep. It is one of the most common sleep disorders and is often one of the main reasons for awakening in the middle of the night.


As people age, their sleep tends to become lighter and more fragmented, and they may experience more body aches and pains, which can sensitize them to minor discomfort and wake them during the night.


If you are a woman, hormone shifts and changes that cause symptoms of menopause and premenstrual syndrome can disrupt sleep cycles or cause middle of the night awakenings.


Prescription medications that are intended to treat depression, asthma, and even hypertension, are known to disrupt sleep cycles or induce awakenings in the middle of the night.

Stress and Anxiety

Waking up between 1am and 3am is often associated with stress. People under stress normally have fragmented and light sleep, and while entering a deep sleep, they may suddenly wake up due to a release of cortisol.


Pain from arthritis or a pinched nerve can wake a person during the night. People can also experience pain due to external factors such as an uncomfortable sleeping surface or wrong pillow material.

When to Talk to Your Doctor

Some night awakenings are more manageable than others. If you struggle with insomnia, disruption of your circadian rhythm, stress, pain, or medications, this may require a doctor’s visit. The following are a few symptoms that warrant a conversation with your doctor:

  • Pain or discomfort that disrupts your sleep
  • Drinking or eating before bed to feel more comfortable
  • Disrupted sleep cycles due to environmental factors
  • Snoring that awakens you from your sleep
  • Unusual sweating during the night
  • Experiencing two or more wake-ups each night several nights a week (or later in the morning)

Everyone deserves a restful night’s sleep, and if you experience any of the above symptoms you should contact your doctor to discuss sleep concerns.

Key Takeaways

Waking up during the night is fairly common, and it could be due to a variety of factors. These might include insomnia, stress, aging, hormones, medications, and pain. If you are waking up due to insomnia, disruption of your circadian rhythm, stress, pain, or medication, it’s likely best to talk to your doctor. Even if you don’t fit into this category, if you are experiencing two or more wake-ups each night several nights a week (or later in the morning), reach out to your doctor to discuss your sleep concerns.

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