There’s no disappointment like sleeping for eight to ten hours only to get out of bed feeling just as tired, if not more so, than the night before. It’s an easy pattern to eliminate as part of life, but if you don’t wake up revitalized or feel like you’re always out of breath, something is definitely happening. Below, experts explain why you wake up tired (and always feeling tired), and how to stop the slime cycle of drowsiness.
Reasons why you wake up tired
There are many reasons why you might wake up on the wrong side of the bed and stay there all day. You have more control over some than others.
If you’ve never heard of it, sleep inertia is the technical term for typical morning sleepiness. This is why you may feel a little wobbly on your feet or disoriented after getting out of bed – your brain is basically waking up.
“Studies have shown that blood flow in the brain is slower for up to 30 minutes after waking up compared to before falling asleep,” explains Robin M. Tucker, Ph.D., RD, an associate professor of food science and nutrition at Michigan State University who studies the intersection of nutrition and sleep. She adds that the feeling of drowsiness lasts 15 minutes to an hour for most people, but others can experience it for several hours.
“Sleep inertia typically lasts longer after nights of insufficient sleep, especially if those nights are consecutive,” says Tucker. “While it can be annoying not being able to jump out of bed and be your best, some scientists believe that sleep inertia helps you get back to sleep quickly and prevents unwanted awakenings.” That being said, waking up during the deep stages of sleep is thought to cause more severe sleep inertia, she adds.
For obvious reasons, it can be quite difficult to tell the difference between normal drag and general fatigue, but Peter Polos, MDPh.D., a member of the American Academy of Sleep and Sleep Number expert, says sleep inertia typically dissipates as the day progresses, while more persistent exhaustion may linger throughout the day, often only relieved by more sleep or a nap.
Exposure to blue light
Whether you want to believe it or not, your screen time has a serious impact on your sleep, especially its quality. Yet many of us engage in what Tucker calls “bedtime revenge procrastination,” or the decision to stay up after a busy day to participate in leisure activities we would otherwise miss (that’s i.e. scrolling, watching TV) instead of sleeping.
“Using computers, tablets, cell phones and TVs too close to bedtime can inhibit melatonin release and delay sleep, so it’s best to turn them off an hour before bedtime. to prevent further exposure,” says Dr. Polos. In general, he adds, we sleep best in a dark, cool room (between 67 and 69 degrees), so if you fall asleep with the TV on, it could steal your restorative ZZZs.
Poor sleep hygiene
Having good sleep hygiene means maintaining a bedroom environment and daily routine that promotes restful sleep. Making small changes to bedding or bedtime can make all the difference. “Make sure you sleep in a comfortable bed that supports you from head to toe,” Dr. Polos says. “It’s worth looking into a smart bed, like the sleep number 360, which allows you to modulate the comfort and firmness of each side of the bed. He adds that the 360 model has a circadian rhythm feature that helps you understand yours.
Drinking too much caffeine or alcohol
Caffeine is a stimulant, and that afternoon pick-me-up might be affecting you more than you think. “Some people metabolize caffeine more slowly than others,” says Tucker. And although alcohol is a depressant, it can disrupt REM stages of sleep, adds Dr. Polos, preventing you from entering the deep sleep necessary for restoration. That’s why he recommends avoiding either substance for up to four hours before bedtime.
sleep disorders such as insomnia and obstruction Sleep Apnea usually interfere with sleep and wakefulness. People with sleep apnea in particular tend to feel tired even after a full night’s sleep. “(It) causes the airways to close repeatedly throughout the night,” says Tucker, which abruptly wakes you up to breathe. “You may not remember these alarm clocks, but they are disruptive and can keep people from feeling refreshed after sleeping,” she adds. The main signs of sleep apnea are loud snoring and daytime sleepiness, and a sleep test is needed for diagnosis.
It is true that some people are naturally night owls and others are morning birds. “These are usually genetically predetermined,” says Polos. “They can be changed to some extent, but generally one cannot be replaced by the other.”
lack of exercise
You might think that exercising would make you more tired, but the opposite is true. In fact, exercise Was found fight against fatigue at work, boost energyand conversely, Studies show it can help you sleep longer and sounder at night, allowing you to wake up feeling refreshed.
poor mental health
While a lack of sleep will certainly affect your headspace, mental health can also wreak havoc on sleep. Studies show that about 40% of depressed young adults suffer from hypersomnia or feelings of excessive fatigue. Anxiety and worry—especially PTSD— can also affect the quality of sleep.
How to stop waking up tired?
Besides the habits already mentioned, there are a few other ways to feel more alert, quicker in the morning.
Let the light in
“Exposure to light, especially sunlight, in the morning helps wake us up,” says Tucker, adding that overall, more exposure to daylight also promotes earlier falling asleep. That’s because light and the circadian rhythm are intrinsically linked, and so exposure advances the natural sleep cycle, Polos adds. So, maybe it’s time to ditch the blackout curtains or try a alarm clock imitating the sunrise to get the light you need to stay on track.
Have you ever felt even more tired after sleeping the 10 minutes allowed by your snooze button? That’s because hitting snooze increases the likelihood that you’ll wake up during a deep sleep phase, which worsens sleep inertia, Polos says. So it’s best to set your alarm for the number of hours you need to get a good night’s sleep or stay awake during your nap times, using the alarms to help dissipate sleep inertia.
Dr. Polos says do yoga or take a quick to walk an hour before bedtime are known to promote sleep. “Exercise is always a great decision and can help promote quality sleep as a key part of your overall health,” he adds.
Set a bedtime (and wake up time) and stick to it
Yes, even on weekends. “By working with people who are dissatisfied with the amount or quality of their sleep, we find that maintaining a consistent bedtime and wake-up time is a simple yet very powerful tool for getting more and better sleep,” says Tucker. Although it may be a challenge at first, it will be worth it. “Sleep is not wasted time,” adds Tucker. “It’s vital for your health and should be a priority.”
Take care of yourself
Prioritize your mental health by consulting with your primary care physician about your concerns, find a therapistor simply take more time for yourself to decompress after a long day.
Kayla Blanton is a freelance writer who reports on all things health and nutrition for men’s health, women’s health, and prevention. Her hobbies include sipping perpetual coffee and pretending to be a choppy contestant while baking.