Why Am I Hungry When I Wake Up?

We’ve all been there, waking up ravenously hungry like you haven’t eaten in days, but why does it happen?

Why Am I Hungry When I Wake Up?

The process of keeping your body happy and well nourished seems relatively easy, you start to feel a pang in your stomach that lets you know that you’re hungry, so you eat to get rid of it and the cycle continues.

But sometimes the times your body lets you know you’re hungry aren’t entirely accurate, and these false alarms can happen at the worst times, like during a meeting or in the middle of the night. 

Usually, a hunger pang isn’t an emergency and it shouldn’t be treated as such.

You’re meant to feel a little bit hungry, you shouldn’t feel stuffed or starving, but you should feel comfortable, but if you’re feeling increasingly hungry during the night or really early in the morning when you wake up, there could be some nutritional issues that you need to address.

In this article, we’ve outlined 6 reasons why you’re feeling super hungry when you wake up and some changes you can make in your diet to combat them. 

1. You’re Eating Large Meals Too Close To Bedtime

If you’re eating large meals right before bedtime your blood sugar could drop.

This is because some people are especially sensitive to large doses of carbs, their bodies can ‘overshoot’ on insulin production in response to them eating a carb-rich meal.

This results in blood glucose levels dropping much lower in just a few hours after eating, which could be a reason why you feel so hungry once you wake up. 

If you’re yet to have dinner and only have a few hours before bed, the best solution is to eat a smaller meal that contains a variety of complex carbs, lean protein and a bit of fat, but not too much fat as it can sit in your stomach longer which could result in heartburn.

Another option is to just go for a high fiber cereal with low-added sugar to combat the late night hunger pangs. 

2. You’ve Been Skipping Meals

It’s pretty easy to skip meals without meaning to, especially if you’re on a busy schedule, sometimes you just don’t notice your body letting you know that you’re hungry.

But sometimes this can do more damage than you realize, if the calorie deficit is too large, then it can actually interfere with your sleep.

When your body is notifying you that it’s hungry, the pangs can actually be strong enough to wake you up because your brain and body would prefer food rather than sleep. 

The best way to fix this is to make sure that you eat regular meals at the correct times, and make sure that the food you’re eating contains fiber, lean protein and healthy fats.

This will keep your blood sugar levels steady and allow you to have a sounder sleep and feel much less hungry during the night thus you won’t wake up feeling ravenous. 

3. Your Workout Has Changed

If you’ve been doing the same workout for a while, your body will get used to that and become much more efficient in completing that workout, and ultimately burn fewer calories.

Why Am I Hungry When I Wake Up?

So if you decide to change your workout, to one that’s either longer or much more intense, you may experience a temporary increase in the calories that you’re burning and if you’re not eating more food to cope with this, then it could lead to a deficit in energy that leads you to wake up much hungrier.

All you’ll need to do to combat this change is to up your food intake in line with the energy deficit you have.

Usually adding a 200-300 calorie snack in the evening a couple hours before bed will do the trick and stop you waking up hungry. 

4. You’re Thirsty

About 60% of your body is made up of water, so it’s no surprise that your body will start to notify you when you’re running low on it, and sometimes that can be in the middle of the night. It’s really easy to confuse being hungry with being thirsty, so often we tend to eat a snack when that’s not what our body was asking for. 

Ensuring that you leave a glass of water by your bed is an easy solution to fix this, if you wake up in the night, make sure to drink water first to confirm whether you’re thirsty or it is hunger. 

5. Your Sleeping Habits Have Changed

A lack of sleep can change a lot of things within your body, and affect your lifestyle in quite a big way.

It’s the same for making you feel hungry too, your hormone levels can become unbalanced which leads to hunger when you don’t actually need any food.

The hormones leptin stimulate and ghrelin both suppress appetite and when you’re sleep deprived, leptin levels will go down whilst ghrelin levels go up.

This leads to you feeling much more hungry and as a result you snack much more during the day and night. 

To get a handle on this, ensure you’re getting enough sleep per night and your body will soon thank you. 

6. Your Blood Sugar Is Unbalanced

If you’re diabetic, your cells aren’t able to absorb glucose properly as they don’t respond to insulin.

So, even if you’re eating, your body will still send you messages in the form of hunger pangs because your cells aren’t getting any energy and this can often result in you getting woken up. 

If you haven’t changed your lifestyle, eating habits or one of the above reasons isn’t the issue and you’re suddenly waking up ravenously hungry, there could be a serious underlying problem concerning your blood sugar.

Make sure that you consult with your doctor about getting your glucose and insulin levels tested to ensure you don’t have diabetes, and if you do, your doc will be able to help you.

Jenna Priestly
Latest posts by Jenna Priestly (see all)