What It Really Means When You Wake Up Hungry

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning only to notice how empty your stomach feels? It's normal to have an appetite after fasting for eight or more hours while you sleep, but your hunger shouldn't be waking you up or distracting you first thing in the morning.

According to Healthline, there are many reasons your stomach may be rumbling when you wake up. If you haven't been getting enough sleep, your blood sugar levels may be out of whack. This can cause all sorts of side effects, including increased feelings of hunger. You can fix this by getting six to eight hours of sleep each night. Another hormone-related cause of hunger is premenstrual syndrome (PMS). This condition that occurs before your period starts can cause bloating, fatigue, and food cravings.

As contrary as it may seem, your morning or middle-of-the-night hunger pains may also be due to dehydration. We often mistake thirst for hunger. If you wake up hungry, have a glass of water to see if the feeling subsides.

What you eat before bed can also make a difference

Both what you eat and how much you eat can impact how hungry you are when you wake up. Not eating enough throughout the day can leave you feeling extra hungry during the night (via Cooking Light). It can be easy to skip meals during hectic days, but not getting enough calories can cause your brain to send you hunger cues while you try to sleep. These cues can be so strong that they even wake you up in the middle of the night.

On the flip side, eating too much right before bed can also leave you hungry in the morning. "Some people are more sensitive to large doses of carbs, which can lead to low blood sugar after a big meal," Suzanne Dixon, RD, registered dietitian with The Mesothelioma Center in Portland, Oregon, told Cooking Light. "Their bodies can 'overshoot' a bit on insulin production in response to a carb-rich meal (especially if the carbs are simple)." If your blood sugar levels spike just before bed, they will crash while you're sleeping. If that crash is strong enough, it can even wake you up. If you need to have a snack before bed, stick to an option with protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats to avoid a crash later on.