Morning insomnia: causes of early awakening in adults and children

A symptom in which a person without an alarm clock wakes up before dawn and can no longer fall asleep is called morning insomnia. Waking up early in the morning on your own may indicate the onset of a serious disorder or illness. This condition requires analysis and, in some cases, professional treatment.

If you gradually or suddenly began to understand that something has changed with you or your loved ones – take a closer look, observe. For example, if a person was always considered an obvious “owl” in relation to the daily routine, he could stay up late at work or watching a movie, and then sleep off until lunch, but suddenly he began to get up without an alarm clock at an incredible early hours. It would seem that this is a change for the better, in the morning you can do a lot, stop being late for work. But instead of cheerfulness, weakness, irritability, lethargy, nervousness appear. This condition can be a symptom of a disease.

Varieties of insomnia

Lack of proper rest at night, disturbed sleep has been considered a pathology since ancient times. Many factors have been identified that cause various types of insomnia (insomnia).


  • Presomnic sleep disorder, in which prolonged falling asleep occurs;
  • Intrasomnic – when there are frequent awakenings during the night, difficulty falling asleep again, a feeling of not recovering, shallow sleep;
  • post-somnolent – with sufficient time and a normal sleep environment, early awakening occurs, causing a lack of vigor and a feeling of fatigue during the day.

In this case, insomnia is episodic or acute (transient), which can last 3 – 7 days. 

More often this is due to the emotional state of a person – mental overstrain, experiencing strong feelings, including positive ones (for example, winning some kind of competition or competition). This is how the body reacts to external stimuli. As a rule, such insomnia is not harmful to health and goes away as you recuperate.

Short-term insomnia lasts more than a week, forcing a person to lose the ability to work and the ability to concentrate. The state of health worsens, apathy appears. More often this happens during adaptation periods during a job change or when moving to a new place of residence. After establishing sleep, in this case, a certain period of recovery of the body is required.

With chronic insomnia, things are usually much more complicated. In this case, it is only a consequence of serious diseases of the body or mental abnormalities, which requires compulsory treatment.

Doctors divide the types of insomnia into classes based on the factors that cause them:   

  • The simplest class is paradoxical insomnia or false insomnia. A person’s neurotic states make him misperceive the passage of time at night. The patient complains of sleep problems, which, with additional research, he does not appear.
  • Adaptive insomnia is caused by a change in habitual conditions (stress, change of time zones).
  • Psychophysiological insomnia or hypnophobia is caused by a hypertrophied anxiety state of a person, in which there is a fear of falling asleep.
  • Organizational insomnia is often caused by shifting to a different daily routine (night or shift work).
  • Behavioral – sometimes it can be diagnosed in children, more often in adolescence.
  • One of the most difficult: somatic or neurological insomnia. May appear during diseases of internal organs.
  • Medication – is a consequence of taking certain drugs.

If doctors cannot determine the cause of insomnia, it is called idiopathic or unclassified.

Insomnia disorders are also divided into types:

  • Primary insomnia – associated with psychophysiology (features of the human psyche, his physical and emotional state)
  • Secondary – caused by some kind of influence (taking medications, diseases, unhealthy diet).

Insomnia also happens:

  • weak (lasts several days, may recur periodically);
  • moderate – is present almost constantly and affects the general condition;
  • pronounced, already turning into a dangerous stage of pathology, where the patient’s quality of social functions decreases.

Sleep disorders affect people of different ages, social groups and occupations. But each subgroup has its own characteristics, reasons for the occurrence and methods of eliminating the problem.

Causes of occurrence in children

Insomnia in children is quite common. It can cause irreparable harm to a developing body.

For infants, the reasons, first of all, can be:

  • erratic, unworked circadian rhythm due to the fault of the parents;
  • the mother’s poor diet or her abuse of caffeinated foods, not to mention alcohol and smoking.

During prolonged healthy sleep, babies produce enough growth hormone (somatotropic hormone). Therefore, sleep disturbance slows down the physical development of the baby. For older children, with such disorders, there is a deterioration in the ability to think, especially logically.

The main physiological causes of morning insomnia in babies:

  • Early awakening in children can be caused by teething – by the morning in this case, saliva accumulates, pain intensifies.
  • Also, food allergies may be the cause, as a result of which gas accumulates in the intestines and causes involuntary spilling. Belching of gastric juice in a baby causes a burning sensation, which is easier to tolerate in an upright position. A child, even with closed eyes, gets up intuitively.
  • A lot of troubles are brought by worms, which, during the rest of the child, lay eggs and provoke unpleasant itching in the anus – the baby wakes up.
  • Ear infections cause fluid to build up overnight. She begins to press on the eardrum and does not allow the patient to sleep in the morning. 
  • Lack of fresh air in the bedroom, too dry air make it difficult to breathe normally and interrupt morning sleep.
  • An uncomfortable bed causes numbness and pain in the skin, when the child is not yet able to take a comfortable position on his own.

With age, children are dominated by psychological reasons for early awakening:

  • fear of the absence of parents;
  • excess impressions from the previous day;
  • stress, emotions from fairy tales, cartoons.

In adolescents, the production of the sleep hormone (melatonin) is delayed. Therefore, sleep disorder at this age is expressed quite often.

For adolescent reasons for violations of circadian rhythms include:

  • physiological changes;
  • imbalance in the work of internal organs;
  • increased emotionality;
  • mental stress;
  • lack of physical activity;
  • improper nutrition;
  • samples of bad habits – gambling addiction, energy drinks, stimulants, smoking, alcohol, drugs.

Consequences of sleep disturbance in adolescents:

  • moodiness and irritability;
  • aggressiveness and memory impairment;
  • loss of appetite and constant fatigue;
  • inability to concentrate.

But it is precisely the reduction in the duration of night rest that is a clear symptom of general disorders.

Among women

Spontaneous morning awakening in women is more often associated with their emotional mood. Constant anxiety and worries about children, increased stress when achieving career growth – all this makes women rise before the alarm clock. And then during the day they are often tired, irritable and unable to concentrate.

The physical features of the body structure of each woman react differently to puberty, menstrual cycles, menopause. Pressure surges, headaches, hot flashes not only cause changes in mood and well-being, but also deprive girls and women of sleep, especially in the morning. As soon as the body partially copes with the daytime fatigue, the pains make you remember yourself, and women wake up at dawn.

Especially often pregnant women experience morning sleep problems for the following reasons:  

  • frequent urge to urinate;
  • nausea;
  • pain in the lumbar region;
  • uncomfortable body position;
  • respiratory failure when the diaphragm is squeezed in the later stages;
  • cramps in the calf muscles.

Sometimes it seems to women that the upright position is more conducive to rest, many even try to sleep while sitting during the day. As a result, the sleep regimen is completely upset, which negatively affects the health of the pregnant woman and the development of the fetus.

Postpartum depression, hypertrophied maternal instinct, hormonal disruptions also cause insomnia in young mothers. 

Super early awakening in men

The peculiarity of morning insomnia in men: throughout their life, the amount of testosterone produced by the body changes, which affects the duration of sleep. Therefore, sleep in men with age becomes more restless, intermittent. At the same time, pathologies of internal organs are added, which make them rise even at dawn:

  • Adenoma of the prostate causes frequent urge to urinate, especially in the morning.
  • Diseases of the spine and lumbar spine, often provoked by hard physical work, make the horizontal position unbearable in the morning.
  • Gastritis with increased secretion in the morning gives severe heartburn, which interferes with sleep.
  • Bronchial asthma makes breathing difficult and forces you to wake up to recover.
  • Apnea – snoring until breathing stops – is also a characteristic symptom of male sleep. Has the ability to intensify closer to morning.
  • Angina pectoris with chest pain not only causes physical discomfort, but also significantly affects the emotional state of men, forcing them to get up and take action in fear of having a heart attack.

There are also external factors that can cause early awakening in men:

  • late rich dinners;
  • alcohol, smoking;
  • long evening vigil at the computer or TV;
  • quarrels in the family, troubles at work;
  • too hard at night in the gym.

Sleep disorders in people involved in professional sports

Athletes and bodybuilders who exercise regularly tend to sleep well. But physical activity, especially in conjunction with emotional stress during competition, can unbalance the sleep of a professional athlete for a long time.

A state of stress on the verge of the limit of the muscular system, stress for breathing, heart and spine, as well as a special energy diet and frequent long-distance flights with a change in time zones – have a detrimental effect on the physical condition of a person and his mental health. One of the first to respond to these changes is full sleep. It would seem that after the competition, an athlete can sleep off, rest, but what he has experienced takes this opportunity away from him. The body has to recuperate much longer.

Likewise, an intense workout in the evening after work or school for the average person is a certain stressful strain. Even if in the first hours sleep comes from physical fatigue, by dawn muscle tone can make itself felt with morning insomnia. Therefore, it is extremely important to postpone sports training to an earlier time (at least 3 hours before bedtime). It is worth introducing loads gradually and observing the regularity of classes, transferring them from a stressful state to the body into a habitual one.


Alcohol dependence is the cause of many diseases of the human body, both physiological and pathological and neuropsychic. Therefore, one should not be surprised at sleep disturbances in alcoholics.

The first hours of strong intoxication practically turn off consciousness, the person falls rather not into sleep, but into oblivion. Depression, irritability, apathy or aggressiveness, obsessive states, inadequacy of perception up to hallucinations lead to disturbing nightmares, which can be interrupted immediately after reducing the effect of alcohol.

A person susceptible to alcohol intoxication is not allowed to fully rest:

  • intoxication of the body;
  • ulcers, pathology of internal organs;
  • accumulation of gases due to a power failure;
  • headaches and pressure surges;
  • heart and muscle cramps;
  • renal colic;
  • convulsions;
  • vomit;
  • frequent urge to urinate.

With the onset of a hangover, the body of an alcohol dependent person requires a new dose to calm the nervous system. Therefore, by morning, restless searches for her begin, sleep disappears. The circle is closed, and the person continues to be in a long binge. There is a kind of double destruction of the body – alcohol abuse and the impossibility of relaxation due to the lack of adequate sleep.

In older people

Most often, older people (men and women) suffer from different types of insomnia, including morning insomnia . It has been proven that some of them receive it at the genetic level “as an inheritance”. The sleep of an elderly person, as a rule, is very sensitive, fragmented. Biorhythms are shifted, the period of falling asleep is increased. 

A sedentary lifestyle, a lack of mental and physical activity, a restriction of the flow of information and communication, as well as a violation of the daily rhythm (when the elderly often fall asleep during the day while sitting), lead to persistent chronic insomnia.

There are many reasons for them:

  • Acquired during life pathologies of internal organs, cardiovascular system and joints, which make themselves felt with pain. This is especially true for the state of sleep and horizontal position of the body.
  • Disturbances of the nervous system, manifested by excessive anxiety, suspiciousness, depression, fears. Added to them are age-related mental disorders – atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, dementia, osteoporosis, diuresis and others.
  • The use of many pharmacological drugs that excite the central nervous system, as well as antidepressants, drugs for bronchial asthma and the cardiovascular system, can lead to insomnia.
  • The body perceives the transferred operations as a particularly severe stress and deprives patients of normal sleep for a long time.
  • Senile insomnia is caused by constant worries about the fate of relatives and friends. Older people become overly sentimental and anxious.

Self-help techniques

If you notice symptoms of an unreasonable morning awakening (for example, no one bothered you, the room is quiet, not hot or cold, no light falls on your face, etc.), then try the following procedures: 

  • You can go back to bed, just lie there, resting. You should drive away all bad thoughts, think about something bright, joyful, calm. You can read a book, dream up, arrange self-massage for yourself, listen to quiet soothing music.
  • If sleep still does not come, do some exercises, do your usual morning chores, and in the evening try to go to bed a few hours earlier. It may be temporary and normal sleep will be restored.
  • If this does not work on the first day or two, try better airing the room before going to bed, replacing the uncomfortable pillow, and limiting caffeinated drinks in the afternoon. You should take a light dinner, do not go in for sports at a late hour, limit the time in front of the computer and TV, take a walk in the fresh air in the evening. It is useful to take before bed: a glass of milk with honey, a warm bath with soothing herbs or oils, a relaxing massage.

Important elements of sleep normalization are:

  • stable daily routine;
  • sufficient stay in the fresh air;
  • ventilation of the sleeping area;
  • clean, comfortable bed and clothing;
  • silence and shade in the room;
  • lack of evening shocks, such as intense noisy films or computer games, mental or physical fatigue.

If self-medication does not help: who to turn to?

Morning insomnia does not always need to be treated. The need arises only in cases where there is no feeling of dissatisfaction with sleep, and during the day there is lethargy, increased fatigue, and headaches. If there are no such symptoms, then early awakening is not dangerous. This means that the body, possibly with the arrival of the new season of the year, has switched to a new biological rhythm and needs less time to relax.

And if the discomfort does not go away for more than a week and brings poor health and fatigue, you should definitely consult a doctor.

First, to a regular GP or pediatrician for a child, a family doctor. The doctor will identify the physiological and pathological causes of insomnia, if any. Diseases of the internal organs, latent pathologies that do not yet make themselves felt by pain, may in the initial period manifest themselves as sleep disturbances.

If you are taking any medications, talk to your doctor. It may be necessary to stop taking them or replace the drug.

If pathologies are not detected, then you should contact a neuropathologist, and the best option is a neuropathologist-somnologist in a polyclinic or a specialized center. He will be able to conduct a detailed examination on an outpatient basis, analyze your sleep and establish a diagnosis. The doctor will give recommendations and, if necessary, select the appropriate drug treatment.

Leave a Reply