By Dr Eugene Brink
You’re going to bed at 22:00 and wake up at 0:600 and yet you still feel groggy and tired.
Some coffee might remedy this and get you going, but some more sinister reasons may be behind your morning exhaustion despite all the sleep you get. Understanding these will give you the best possible start to your day.
“If you regularly wake up tired, especially if you continue to feel fatigued throughout the day, there may be something else going on,” says Stacy Sampson, contributor at medical advice website Healthline.
Sleep expert Dr Lee-Chiong says getting adequate sleep every night might be a tall order, especially with long workdays and active lifestyles often taking priority. “Creating a healthy sleep regimen starts with recognising that insufficient sleep is a problem and identifying a path towards a solution.”
Here are some of the reasons for being less-than-sprightly in the morning:
- You press snooze and stay in bed too long
Carina Wolff writes at Butsle.com that there are misconceptions about hitting snooze when you wake up. “You would think that hitting the snooze button would make you feel less tired since you are getting more sleep, but it actually does the opposite. When you fall back asleep for such a short amount of time, your alarm wakes you up on the wrong sleep cycle, which can leave you feeling more tired than you began.
“Try to set your alarm for the exact time you need to wake up, or get a sleeping app that can help wake you up on the right cycle.”
Sleep expert Dr Michael Breus says the average snooze button is about 7–9 minutes long. “This does not give your brain the time it needs to get back into a deeper more refreshing stage of sleep. So, during the last 30–60 min of shuteye you are actually getting broken, fragmented sleep.”
- You’re going to bed at the wrong time
According to Breus, you have a specific chronotype (early bird, night owl, etc), and if you wake up at a time that is inconsistent with your chronotype, it can make mornings onerous. “For example, if you are a night owl and you are waking up at 06:00, even if you went to bed at 22:00 (giving you eight hours to sleep), you will still feel terrible, because your brain still wants to produce melatonin while you are trying to wake up!”
It is also advisable that you go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day as variations could disrupt you sleeping patterns and rest.
- Sleep inertia (and other sleeping disorders)
Sampson says it is likely that your morning grogginess is just sleep inertia, a normal part of the waking process. “Your brain typically doesn’t instantly wake up after sleeping. It transitions gradually to a wakeful state.”
- Not letting light in and watching TV
Wolff says although the dark is good for sleeping in, you’ll want to open the curtains in the morning. The UCLA Sleep Centre found that letting in light helps to regulate your body’s natural circadian rhythms, making you feel more awake and energetic.
Another no-no is watching TV before going to bed. She says the light emanating from these electronics can disrupt your body’s level of the hormone melatonin, which is responsible for controlling our sleep cycles. “Put the computer away and consider another bedtime activity, like reading.”
Carina Wolff, 30 June 2016, “11 reasons you’re waking up tired in the morning & how you can fix it”, https://www.bustle.com/articles/170127-11-reasons-youre-waking-up-tired-in-the-morning-how-you-can-fix-it.
Michael Breus, 29 July 2018, “6 reasons you wake up tired after a full night of sleep”, https://thesleepdoctor.com/2018/07/29/6-reasons-you-wake-up-tired-after-a-full-night-of-sleep/?cn-reloaded=1.
Stacy Sampson, 5 March 2019, “Why do I keep waking up tired?”, https://www.healthline.com/health/waking-up-tired-2.