Ever get that feeling in the morning when your alarm rings full blast, yet you can’t even muster enough energy to hit the snooze button? You’re not alone. That feeling of sleepiness and lacking energy in the morning is what’s called sleep inertia.
It’s a phenomenon that can happen to anyone, regardless of age, sex, or any other factors. But don’t stress. Sleep inertia, or the feeling of morning grogginess, shouldn’t be a cause for alarm unless it starts to disturb your daily life.
How Do I Get Sleep Inertia?
We have four sleep stages that vary in the amount of brain activity. Sleep inertia usually occurs when we are awakened during our deep sleep or our REM stage.
Deep sleep and REM place the body in an inactive state, making it harder for you to wake up during these phases.
Unfortunately, when you wake up during this stage, the feeling of inactivity carries over to your awakened state.
How Would I Know If I’m Experiencing Sleep Inertia?
The telltale signs are when you feel tired, confused, disoriented, or fatigued in the moments after you wake up.
A person experiences sleep inertia during the first half-hour of awakening. Having the feeling go beyond that may point to something else.
Other manifestations also include impeded motor dexterity and decreased cognitive ability. So it’s best to avoid performing tasks requiring great attention to detail and fine motor movement first thing in the morning.
I’ve Had Eight Hours of Sleep, so Why Do I Still Feel Groggy?
While being sleep-deprived can give just about anyone a headache, it’s not necessarily the main culprit for sleep inertia.
Sleep inertia correlates with poor sleep quality, in which sleeping duration isn’t the only factor considered.
Disruption in your sleep cycles, such as having less time spent in deep sleep, impedes your body’s ability to rejuvenate energy.
Regardless if you’ve slept for 3 hours or 8 hours, if you don’t get enough deep sleep, there’s a high likelihood you’ll wake up feeling groggy and lethargic.
What Causes Sleep Inertia?
Alcohol Before Bed
A glass of wine to cap off a night isn’t uncommon. Others make it part of their bedtime routine. And for many who have trouble sleeping, it acts as their sleep aid.
However, the downside of dozing off from alcohol is that it disrupts your body’s function at a hormonal level, affecting your melatonin production. In short, it can only be a short-term solution to help you fall asleep.
Melatonin is the hormone secreted from your pineal gland that tells your body whether it’s time to sleep or be awake.
Disruption in your melatonin levels can cause you to dwell longer in a light sleeping phase, depriving your body of renewed energy levels the next morning.
We all know how just the smell of freshly brewed coffee can perk us up during the day – even more so when you consume it.
A cup of joe gives us the caffeine fix to provide the extra energy boost we need.
Sadly, caffeine intake too close to bedtime can create a jarring effect on our sleep cycle.
It takes the body at least 5 hours to clear half of the caffeine in our system and may take 12 hours or more to dispose of the rest.
If you really can’t help it, there’s always caffeine-free coffee. Remember that caffeine in the system may allow you to fall asleep, but it can also make your light sleep phases longer.
Sleepytime teas with ingredients such as chamomile, passionflower, lemon balm, or valerian root help just about anyone have a good night’s sleep. Plus, these teas boast tons of surprising health benefits.
A cup of chamomile tea helps you maintain calm in stressful situations by relaxing the nervous system. A compound extracted from chamomile flowers is known to connect to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain, creating a calming effect.
Chamomile also lowers blood sugar and may also slightly lower blood pressure.
Passionflower also has serious anti-anxiety effects. And lemon balm supplementation can help reduce depression, anxiety, stress, and sleep disturbances. These popular herbal teas serve as an all-natural way to combat depression. And they’re generally recommended to anyone experiencing an anxiety disorder.
DOES DRINKING IT BEFORE BED MAKE YOU SLEEPY IN THE MORNING?
Any health-conscious person would appreciate natural remedies containing antioxidants for overall wellness. But that’s not really what we want to answer here.
The real question is, do sleepytime teas make you groggy in the morning? No studies state they do if you drink them before bed. Just make sure you don’t sip this type of tea upon waking up because, as mentioned, it does help with better sleep.
No, this doesn’t necessarily mean that seeing anything blue causes you to decrease sleep quality.
Blue light is an umbrella term for the different light wavelengths that dictate our circadian rhythm or body clock.
A natural form of blue light comes from the sun; the presence of blue light tells our brain to stop secreting melatonin. This is why it’s natural for us to be awake during the daytime and asleep at night.
And why problems can arise for people who work night shifts, as their body’s natural process is to make them sleepy when the sun is away and to keep them awake in the presence of sunlight.
However, blue light isn’t only present from the sun but is also projected by artificial lighting sources such as light bulbs, screens, and mobile devices.
So watching TV or browsing your phone as a method to fall asleep isn’t exactly the best method to doze off.
More often than not, exposure to these devices causes you to be more awake since the brain associates the blue light emitted as a signal to stop melatonin production.
In some instances, sleep inertia just happens. It could be nature’s way of reminding us that we should value our sleep more. And, hey, who are we to argue?
Experiencing a groggy feeling upon waking up doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing things wrong. But it could be a wake-up call (pun not intended) for you to value the activities you do before you sleep.
What Can I Do About Sleep Inertia?
Avoid Sleeping for Too Long
It might sound counter-intuitive, but sleeping too much can cause tiredness during the day.
The latter parts of our sleep cycle commonly dwell in the REM phase, which elicits significant brain activity. This phenomenon causes a bit of lightheadedness when we wake from our extended slumber.
Instead, a better way of approaching sleep is to create and follow a sleeping schedule and develop it into a habit.
Develop a Sleeping Routine
For some people, getting to sleep involves a routine naturally designed by having to sleep every day.
Find things to do that can keep you in a relaxed mood and that you can associate with sleeping. Whether it be lighting candles, drinking chamomile tea, setting schedules, or other sleeping routines.
Either way, a routine tricks your brain into thinking it’s time to rest and secrete melatonin.
Of course, you must also avoid things that tell your brain to wake up. So, turn off those lights and put your smartphone away. This will help you sleep faster and get you better quality sleep.
Take a Breather
Sleep inertia occurs for just a few minutes after you’ve woken up. If you could make a few adjustments to your sleeping schedule, there should be no reason not to just wait for the disorientation to go away.
Just don’t go back to sleep again, cause that’s only going to make grogginess more apparent.
Take your mornings easier, breathe, meditate, go out for a walk, and maybe stretch a little.
Having your blood flowing and circulating is one of the best natural ways to shake off the lightheaded feeling of sleep inertia. Good luck!