Why Am I Hungry In The Middle Of The Night?

There’s nothing worse than disturbed sleep. Waking up in the middle of the night because you’re hungry can be especially frustrating since it’s not an easy sensation to ignore.

Why Am I Hungry In The Middle Of The Night?

So you’re either spending the next 30 minutes or so making food, or you’re battling against the hunger desperately trying to return to sleep.

If this happens regularly you’re definitely going to start feeling the adverse effects of sleep deprivation. So it’s best to try and rectify the situation as soon as possible.

There are several reasons why this might be happening. It could just be that you are not eating enough food throughout the day, or you’ve upped your exercise recently.

Lack of sleep and night-eating syndrome are also potential contributors. 

You may be surprised to learn that it’s not just your stomach that makes you feel hungry.

In fact, circadian rhythm plays a massive role in you feeling hungry.

Circadian rhythm includes both mental and physical changes that correspond with your daily cycle of lightness and darkness.

This rhythm can trigger your body to release particular hormones, and some of these hormones can make you feel hungry. 

There are quite a few different reasons why you may be waking up feeling hungry during the night. Let’s take a look at some of them. 

Not Eating Enough 

If you’ve skipped a meal or two throughout the day, there is a good chance that you’ll wake up feeling hungry.

If you are fairly active and female, you should be consuming on average between 1600-2400 calories per day, or between 2000-3000 if you’re male. 

So if your calorie intake is significantly lower than these figures, you need to start bumping up the amount of food you are consuming.

If you are within this range but still feeling hungry in the night, you can always try adding in an extra snack here and there throughout the next couple of days to see if it helps. 

Hunger is usually your body’s way of letting you know it needs a bit more energy or fuel to keep going.

If you are burning a lot more calories than you are consuming then there’s a good chance this is what is keeping you awake at night. 

Changes In Exercise 

Have you made an effort to exercise more recently? If so, good you you. It is a really healthy thing to be doing and you’re sure to reap the benefits.

However, you are now burning a lot more calories so unless you make up that difference with some extra food, you are going to feel hungrier than usual. 

Changes in exercise can actually keep you up at night hungry, even if you have just replaced your old exercise routine for something different and new.

And it doesn’t even have to be any more physically demanding to do so. 

So whether you’re starting a new exercise regime, or your replacing an old one, ensure that you are eating enough food throughout the day to make sure that you don’t get woken up in the middle of the night feeling peckish.

Lack Of Sleep

Why Am I Hungry In The Middle Of The Night?

This can feel a little like a never-ending loop. Because, yes, lack of sleep can cause you to feel hungrier which has the potential to wake you up at night.

But then of course this then leads to a further lack of sleep because it’s woken you up. And the cycle can continue. 

So try and make sure that you have eaten well throughout the day to try and break this pattern. And always try to aim for a minimum of eight hours sleep. 

Night Eating Syndrome (NES)

If you’re eating enough through the day, haven’t made any changes exercise-wise, and are getting plenty of sleep, there is the possibility that you have Night Eating Syndrome.

This disorder falls under the category OSFED which stands for Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder. 

This disorder does not have massive amounts of research behind it, but those who suffer with it often find themselves waking up regularly throughout the night desperate to eat.

In terms of treatments for this disorder, you would need to seek advice from a medical professional. 

Tips For Managing Waking Up Hungry

  • Monitor Calorie Intake – Making a food journal may be beneficial. You can then keep track of how much you are eating throughout the day, how much activity you do that day, and then whether or not you wake up through the night. This may help to identify any patterns. 
  • Eat A Little Later – If you eat your last meal fairly early in the evening, you may find you sleep through the night if you eat slightly later on. 
  • Set A Bedtime – Make sure that you are getting enough sleep each night. You shouldn’t really be sleeping less than 7 hours a night.
  • Research NES – If you feel like it may be disordered eating, you should research into what treatments are available, or speak to a medical proffesional. 

Final Thoughts 

There are many different reasons why you may be waking up hungry, and sometimes it can be a struggle to really identify the root cause.

Things aren’t made any easier by a general lack of research on the issue either. 

Initially, I would recommend trying to up those calories to make sure that you are getting enough to eat throughout the day.

If from there nothing really changes, I would try to ensure that you are getting a bit more sleep, as this could also be a leading factor. 

But if you try all of the suggestions here and just don’t seem to be getting anywhere, I would say that it is time to speak to a qualified professional who will be better positioned to determine any underlying causes that are causing you to keep waking up hungry in the middle of the night.

Jenna Priestly