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How to Cure Husband's Habit of Waking at Same Time Each Day?

By: Wendy Jacob - Updated: 19 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Partners Melatonin Anxiety Gp


My husband has got into a 'habit' of waking up after only about 4hrs sleep. I say habit, because it has now been going on for months. He falls asleep sometimes after only 4 to 5 breaths (which is fascinating to me), then wakes up every day around 4.30am. This happens whether he goes to sleep at 21:30 or 1:30. As a result, my sleep is being affected as when he goes away on business, I sleep a full night, no problem. He is not unduly stressed and this sleep problem also happens when we are on holiday.

Would melatonin help him here?

(S.K, 7 July 2009)


Thank you for your question.

Now, I am not quite sure if this is a problem for your husband or you...You say he falls asleep easily and just wakes at the same time each day. As you say he is not stressed, I can only assume that he is having enough sleep and is generally fit and healthy. You also do not mention whether he goes back to sleep or whether he gets up, thus disturbing you more.

You might just like to check if he wakes at the same time when he is by himself and in other environments - away on business, or staying with friends. If the answer is yes, then it is likely that he has a regular sleep pattern that is giving him sufficient rest. If no, check what is happening in the bedroom at home. For example, are there any regular noises outside, such as traffic, alarms, deliveries? Is there anything (even minor) such as a boiler turning on, neighbours getting up etc that is disturbing him? Perhaps the light is waking him so make sure you have curtains or blinds that keep the room dark.

Why is he waking you? Does he deliberately wake you, or are you awake already? You say that you sleep well when he is away so perhaps you are sleeping differently when you are together. Sleeping together is often difficult and sometimes one partner will subconsciously take on a 'watching' role. It has been suggested that this is natures way of allowing the 'hunter' (the male) to have some rest as his protector ( the female)keeps watch. The fact that you sleep well by yourself suggests that you don't have any problem with your sleep either, but perhaps you sleep differently when you are together.

It is not a good idea to take melatonin(or any other prescribed medication) unless you or your husband have symptoms that may need some short term help. Your GP will be able to advise on the suitability of any medication.While this continues,I would suggest that you make sure that you are getting enough sleep - either through naps, or occasionally sleeping separately. If your husband is doing something that stops you (or him) from going back to sleep, negotiate with him and explain how his waking is affecting you and your sleep.

You may have heard of 'larks and owls'. Perhaps one of you is an early rising lark, and the other an owl. Again, this is not unusual and it is possible with a little training to adjust your sleeping habits. Remember too, that age and events through life, affect our sleep, so be prepared to adjust in the future.

Have a look at Sleeping with Partners' on this site and the information on how to improve your sleep. If you still consider that you, or your husband have a problem, your GP will be able to discuss what options are available.

One of the main reasons for poor sleep, or difficulty getting or staying asleep, is anxiety. It is very difficult to stop worrying but if you can learn some relaxation techniques, it may help you sleep better. Sleep is important to physical and emotional health and if you feel this is affecting these, or your relationship, you should contact your GP who may suggest treatment, medication or counselling that will help.

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