Serious condition may be the reason you wake up at the same time every night | The Sun
MILLIONS of Brits will know how frustrating it is to wake in the middle of the night and struggle to get back to sleep.
Stress and anxiety, bad neighbours, a baby's arrival or a partner's snoring can often be blamed for a restless night.
But those left baffled after waking at the same time every evening may have something more serious going on with their health.
While a repeated – and unwanted – 2.30am wake-up time may be caused simply by your own circadian rhythms, it can be an indicator of a medical condition.
Sleep apnoea is when your breathing stops and starts while you sleep.
Brits who suffer from it may make gasping, snorting or choking noises, wake up frequently or snore loudly.
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The NHS says the condition can be a serious one if left undiagnosed and untreated.
Anyone who believes they have any of the main symptoms should book an appointment with their GP.
Docs may decide to refer patients to a specialist sleep clinic, where breathing can be checked during sleep.
Many people won't need to be treated for apnoea, but those who do will be given a device called a CPAP machine for free.
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The kit gently pumps air into a mask you wear over your mouth or nose while you sleep.
However, most Brits will have nothing to worry about.
Speaking to Cleveland Clinic, Dr Alexa Kane PsyD said the brain can teach itself to wake up at a certain time – even without you consciously being aware of it.
And the trick is to stay as calm as possible and try to go back to sleep.
"If you wake up and begin to experience worry, anxiety or frustration, you likely have activated your sympathetic nervous system, your ‘fight-or-flight’ system," she said.
"When this happens, your brain switches from sleep mode to wake mode. Your mind may start to race, and your heart rate and blood pressure may go up. That makes it much harder to get back to sleep."
This stress can lead to insomnia, which is a fully recognised sleep disorder.
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Dr Kane said: "If you have these symptoms, see a physician sleep expert.
"Untreated sleep apnoea can cause heart disease, diabetes, obesity and other health problems."
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