Why do we wake around 3am and dwell on our fears and shortcomings?

How natural disasters benefit rich people but make the poor poorer – an illustrated story

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Government programs that help people recover their wealth after natural disasters end up reinforcing inequality…READ ON

Why do we wake around 3am and dwell on our fears and shortcomings?

In a normal night’s sleep, our neurobiology reaches a turning point around 3 or 4am.

Core body temperature starts to rise, sleep drive is reducing (because we’ve had a chunk of sleep), secretion of melatonin (the sleep hormone) has peaked, and levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) are increasing as the body prepares to launch us into the day.

Concerns about being awake when one “should” be asleep can cause the person to jolt themselves into anxious wakefulness whenever they go through a light sleep phase.

Remarkably, all this activity happens independent of cues from the environment such as dawn light – nature decided long ago that sunrise and sunset are so important that they must be predicted (hence the circadian system).

We actually wake up many times each night, and light sleep is more common in the second half of the night. When sleep is going well for us, we are simply unaware of these awakenings. But add a bit of stress and there is a good chance that waking will become a fully self-aware state.

Not surprisingly, there is evidence the pandemic is a sleep-disturbing stressor. So if you’re experiencing 3am…READ ON

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