Why Do I Always Wake Up at 3am? – A Simple Solution

Stress causes the adrenal glands to fire off adrenaline. This gives you a burst of energy to deal with stressful situations. Adrenaline also raises the heart rate, increases respiration, dilates the pupils, slows down digestion and causes muscles to contract. It’s like caffeine on steroids!

So if you are stressed or upset it can be impossible to fall asleep, but why does it always wake you up at 3am?

3am is when your liver regenerates. To do so, it needs glycogen. The problem is that adrenaline causes your cells to use up glycogen. So if you are often stressed, your body may not have enough glycogen for the liver to regenerate at 3am. If your liver cannot get the glycogen it needs, your adrenal glands will compensate by releasing adrenalin, which is why you are wide awake and ready for action, not exactly a state you want to be in at 3am.

Adrenal Cocktail Recipe

½ cup orange juice - gives the liver glucose it needs to regenerate.

½ teaspoon Cream of tartar - high in potassium, an element that is essential for the sodium/potassium balance in cells, vital organs (liver), muscles, nerves, and the digestive system.

½ teaspoon Himalayan or Celtic salt - contains 84 essential minerals and elements found in the human body, helping feed the adrenals and refresh body’s the sodium/potassium pump.

Just mix all the ingredients and drink before bed.

*You may also do this in the morning to deal with stress throughout the day, but always be sure to drink it before bed as well.

To get a better idea of whether or not you may have adrenal fatigue, check out our Adrenal Fatigue Quiz here!


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51 Replies

  • Interesting site - thank you for posting

    - I'd seen it recommended to have ¼ of a teaspoon of salt & ¼ teaspoon of sugar in a cup of water before bedtime - to stop cramps I think it was.... J :D

  • Someone suggested this recipe for adrenal fatigue and I found this site which outlined why it helps.

  • Adrenals are still a mystery to me although I keep trying to learn... I like Dr Bergman's videos too & Stress is to be avoided at all costs!(emotional, physical & chemical).

    One thing I have noticed since being treated is I no longer wake up at 3am, another is asking the dentist for non-adrenaline numbing injection (although VitD seems to have kept cavities at bay since 2012! only thing I can say had changed).

    Do you think we could add a little vodka to the cocktail, for good measure - & put the salt round the top of the glass? :D

  • I started taking Seriphos to regulate cortisol as I'm easily stressed, but as my cortisol is sometimes naturally low, if I take it at the wrong time can cause an energy slump.

  • Ha ha sparerib, I like your style.

    What treatment are you receiving for your adrenals?

    I took NAX & NT and now hardly sleep at all. It just can't be good for healing long term.

    I am due to see functional endo & nutritionist in a few weeks. I'm too scared to take anything else now.


  • Hi Flower...

    If it's me you're asking it's just Levo 100,

    I think it was Dr Skinner who tended to just treat Thyroid first hoping adrenal stuff comes into line, whereas others advocate treating adrenals first - I tried NutriT but didn't dare take NutriA as I was already quite wired at the time!

    I don't know why, but I'm not as jumpy as before (and without Kalms either).

    Still tired, cold, shaky & fatter than ever 'tho! J x

  • I just not know whether to follow Dr P's protocol & take more NAX or Dr S's protocol as you have.

    I wish we could see into the future or change past happenings.

  • When I took NAX, I was waking in the early AMs really wired, anxious, and angry, so had to cut back to 1 a day.

  • And are you still taking, cc120?

  • Hi Flower, no. I started Seriphos due to stress instead. Did try sea salt for awhile.

  • This is me. Fall asleep all over the place but 3am am wide awake. Frustrating and exhausting.

    what does it taste like? I have a huge gag reflex if something tastes bad. Not pretty! 😄 Tablets I am good with though. I also have CKD so try to keep my salt intake as low as possible.

    Very interesting site. I am off to do adrenal fatigue test. I have had insomnia for years and since being on Levo for five weeks it's been worse but now wondering if adrenals. I have a very stressful job which I love but praps my body doesn't.

  • An enjoyable stressful job is great as long as you can switch off in order to maintain that good adrenal function Nickinoo1.

  • Unfortunately once stressed I can't switch off, it takes days for me to calm down and be able to relax, but only if totally no stress, which usually means do virtually nothing at all for those days.

  • Might NDT help you more?

  • I was on thyroid-s before my op and better than on Levo - I have a post out at the moment about combining them or going back to NDT or getting t3 either via Dr - unlikely - or elsewhere.

  • Interesting Nickinoo1, I combine NDT and T3. NDT to have back up level of FT4, and T3 to save my body having to convert.

  • That's what I am looking to achieve. I wondered as NDT has t3 in whether I needed a little of that too in addition to Levo but Shaws advised about antihistamine before Levo to see if that helped which I need to ask more on. If it helps I need a little t3 possibly. I loved my NDT I felt better. I guess after op and having fought to get treated when I got Levo I had hopes it would work/ be the solution.

  • I'm unsure of the best way to go, but certainly worth trying what Shaws advised.

  • I used to wake up sweating at 3am every night! after levo it got better but still some nights I sweat...

  • Have you ever tried NDT?

  • no, never. Doctors never subscribe anything else but levo in Holland. Even getting Levo was so hard!

  • Many buy it online, I do. Though I don't know for certain if it would help with your 3am waking, but generally people seem to manage better on NDT than levo.

  • I did that last night for first time - drenched many times. Not pleasant is it? 😳

  • Many thanks for posting. My problem as well! I have just slightly increased my Levo but last night I managed to stay awake a little longer and slept through till after five. Last thing I did before I tumbled into bed was a piece of dark chocolate with sea salt in it. Think it's Lindt, may be coincidence, may be not but time will tell.

  • Your welcome. Perhaps worth trying this recipe.

  • Yes I suppose I'm partway there already with the chocolate with the salt. Since upped the Levi a little have slept through but have to drag myself out of bed! Whether I'm now on catch up or used to waking earlier and so having move time then to come round I don't know but will experiment further if it doesn't continue.

  • I'm no expert, but doesn't sound like you are on your optimum dose of levo, or perhaps NDT would be better?!?!

  • Had just asked endo if I could add some T3 so he sent me for some more bloods and won't see him again as retiring! He doesn't do NDT so asked for T3. Saw GP when got results as T3 just on half way so told her it should be top third or even top 25% but said can't as now got letter saying levels fin from a consultant. So decided to try upping present dose a little as probably still won't be out of range and take it from there. For an appointment with new Endo in September so will see how the land lies then! I've got the list from Louise in case it doesn't work out but as soon as I hear the new persons name I shall ask my HU friends if anyone has met him/her before. having to tread very carefully!

  • I've had this kind of waking up! Often very hungry, and at times find find myself down in the kitchen having a snack most nights. Have Have even cooked a while meal in the past - why not, I'm the most awake I've been all day!

    I found melatonin helped. I take 3mcg while I'm getting ready for bed, and now I usually sleep all thru, not even waking for the toilet, which I used to do 2 or 3 times.

    I'm also taking nutri - adrenal (not extra). It seems to work slow-ish. Not the big energy rush of taking an increase in thyroxine!

  • Thank you for the melatonin tip.

  • 30mcg of melatonin is a dose that won't be suitable for everyone.

    I bought 3mcg tablets, I cut them into quarters, and I take one quarter when absolutely necessary. If I take a larger dose than that I get astonishingly bad headaches, and I also get terribly depressed the next day. But the quarter tablets do get me to sleep.

    So, anyone deciding to try melatonin, please start low and slow!

  • Apologies, Human Bean. 30mcg was a typo, it should have been 3mcg and I've edited my post with that.

  • Thank you for posting this useful information. I have been having just a glass of orange juice before bed and did not equate this with better sleeping, so will try the full cocktail this evening, but have been having some lovely nights for the past couple of weeks. Have signed up to this site. Thanks again cc120.

  • You're welcome j_bee x.

  • I find it very hard to believe your liver knows when it is 3am, unless you are speaking metaphorically? I have suffered from shots of adrenaline for years now. While they consistently happen just after I go to sleep, and very occasionally in the dead of night, they don't occur at 3am. I can state this this as a fact because I am always still up at 3am!

  • I don't know if any interest to you, but I like the way the following article describes how adrenaline effects the cortisol and vice verse: en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Demys...

  • not only depression, it explains anxiety too...

    "capacity to stress up the body in anticipation of a possible danger...." including what I call "monkey chatter".

    I make myself go to bed at midnight, even 'tho feel awake, I'm soon asleep but used to wake a few hours later - usually 3 (then 4,5,6 and could sleep soundly 'til 10) unfortunately work gets in the way of my natural sleep pattern - I'm still catching up at weekends. J :D

  • That was interesting, cc, thanks. I've just had a cortisol blood test taken but I don't know what I hope to learn from it! I wish there was an easy way to know how seriously stress is affecting you...

  • I believe that the best way of testing cortisol is the 24 hour urine test, that way you can monitor the peaks and troughs.

  • So I've read, cc, yes. Hopefully my blood test will show something interesting that I might use to convince my doc to let me have the urine test. Although I suppose an uninteresting cortisol result may actually be the best one!

  • Unfortunately, even if it shows anything out of the normal, you still have to push for a follow up, unless you're one of the lucky ones with a clued up, helpful GP.

  • Well, it came in at 440, CC. Don't know yet if that's good or bad, although it appears to be on the high side. Need to get some research going. When my doc took it he asked why we were doing it and said "Not that I'd know what to do with the results anyway..." That's cheering!

  • The endo I saw, after cortisol came back 900, gave me another cortisol test without telling me this would be included in various tests he authorised ( I hadn't realised it had been so high). As I had resumed Seriphos by then, a cortisol regulator it dropped down to 150. So no further investigation was made.

    Hopefully you can encourage your GP to refer you an adrenal/endo specialist if he can't decipher the results!

  • Oh, that SO won't be happening. Unless I can find a good reason that this cortisol result actually means something, we will do absolutely nothing with it. It was ever thus...

  • That's just that endo and my GP, hopefully yours will help, but if not be ready to ask some very investigative questions.

  • You made me laugh, cc. I'm always badgering my doctor, not so much with questions, but more with my discoveries and theories, then the demand for tests. Poor man, he'd be horrified if he could hear you right now. But don't worry, if there's anything to be done with it, I'll do it! X

  • Glad to hear it : )

  • We all have a circadian clock in the livers and the hypothalamus.

  • Damn, Flower, now all I can see is livers with interesting timepieces! Still not convinced by the precision of 3am liver-time though, I'm afraid. For a start BST would really screw that up, just like it screws me up....

  • Sorry had the same imagery - very Dali-esque going on!

    Edited for predictive text - how does sorry become sport!

  • Dali-esque livers - that's all we need. It sounds like a new horror disease from The Daily Mail.

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