Ask the expert
Q I fall asleep easily, but snap awake at 3 a.m. What’s going on?
A Common sleep interruptors include drinking more than two glasses of wine in the evening, eating a heavy, late dinner or falling asleep with the TV on. (The latter is surprisingly common and it’s just plain disruptive!) Alcohol causes fragmented sleep and a big meal may trigger indigestion (the discomfort can wake you up).
Also, if you’re stressed, your level of cortisol, the “stress” hormone, is elevated, sending your system out of whack. At night, your body makes other hormones to restore balance; that process may awaken you.
Set the stage for a sound slumber before bed: Wear comfy PJs and keep your thermostat at 68 degrees because scratchy lingerie or a hot room interferes with sleep. Also, cut back on alcohol and eat lightly at dinner. If stress is the problem, try slow deep belly breathing; it will help you relax so you can nod off again.
Erika Schwartz, M.D., is a women’s health expert practicing in New York City. Her most recent book is Dr. Erika’s Hormone Solution for Your Daughter (Wellness & LifeStyle, 2006).
Send your questions to Shape, Ask the Expert, 21100 Erwin St., Woodland Hills, CA 91367; fax: (818) 704-7620; e-mail: asktheexpert@Shape.com.
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