Your noisy alarm goes off in the wee hours of the morning. You press the snooze button and tell yourself you want just a couple more minutes of sleep. Your alarm goes off for a second time so you press snooze again and the cycle repeats. Finally, you forcefully open your eyes and wake up yet feel so exhausted already! You may be wondering why so let’s look into the details to get a better understanding.
To start off, it is normal to feel a little bit tired right after you wake up, every now and then. However, if it happens ever too often, then you may have a bigger problem.
Here are some reasons why you may wake up feeling tired:
1) Sleep Inertia: Everyone experiences this natural transition period whereby the brain slowly transitions into a more alert state. This is why you do not feel fully awake right away. It normally takes 15-60 minutes for your brain to get back on track and hence, for your motor and cognitive skills to take charge. The science behind this is that there’s a lack of blood flow to the brain which is required to kick into gear. The cerebral blood flow is a gradual process and hence, it takes a while for the body to adjust.
2) Poor quality sleep: Although you may get 7-8 hours of sleep, if it is frequently interrupted, the quality of your sleep is also interrupted. One unhealthy habit that can significantly affect your sleep quality is too much screen time right before bed. This leads to a lot of blue light exposure which in turn, disrupts the regulation of the circadian rhythm of your body. The circadian rhythms are 24-hour cycles that regulate the body’s internal clock and physical, mental and behavioural changes to facilitate a state of wakefulness during the day and sleepiness at night. Apart from that, a noisy environment, an uncomfortable mattress and a room that is either too cold or too hot may also interrupt the quality of your sleep.
3) Lack of sleep: insufficient sleep, makes it harder for your body to seamlessly regulate internal functions. Depending on your age, you should get at least a certain number of hours of sleep to feel fully rested. This is because your body goes through different sleep stages at night; light, deep and rapid eye movement (REM). The key takeaway here is that if you get a healthy amount of sleep, (eg: generally, 7-8 hours for an adult) you are less likely to wake up when in deep sleep as the stages reduce gradually throughout the night. Hence, you would not wake up feeling fatigued.
4) Poor dietary choices: As we all know; caffeine increases alertness and performance. Consuming too much caffeine before bed can make it harder for you to fall asleep. It would also be good to avoid rich, spicy food that can cause gastric issues and even avoid alcohol intake as these would interrupt quality sleep.
5) Sleep disorders: Insomnia is the main cause of fatigue in the morning. It is caused by a number of reasons like stress, inconsistent sleep schedule, medical conditions, etc. Another sleep disorder that affects quality sleep is sleep apnea which causes an interruption in your breathing during sleep and would require medical assistance if it also affects your daily performance.
6) Depression: Depression is a serious mood disorder that leaves you feeling lethargic, unmotivated and can really affect your concentration. The symptoms of depression can affect a good night’s sleep and hence, leave you feeling exhausted just as you wake up.
7) Jet lag: You may be one of those that frequently travel to countries with different time zones. For example, going to sleep while in Malaysia and waking up in a country as far away as the United Kingdom can leave your body feeling a little bit confused.
So, What Can You Do?
1) Get enough hours of sleep and wake up at the same time every day: can help regulate your sleep cycle
2) Wake up 15 minutes prior to when you actually need to get up from bed: allows time for your brain to settle and your body to prepare to get out of bed
3) Expose yourself to sunlight during the day: helps to regulate the circadian rhythm and relieve symptoms of depression and insomnia
4) Practice good sleep hygiene: choose a dark, noise-free room with a temperature of around 60-72 degrees Fahrenheit or 15.6-22.2 degrees Celsius (can vary by a few degrees, depending on the person). Also, go for a comfortable mattress and remove electronics out of your sight (note: babies may require a higher room temperature during bedtime)
5) Exercise and stay away from unhealthy habits: keep active during the day to boost your sleep and avoid scrolling through your phone and consuming caffeine before bedtime
6) Treat underlying causes of insomnia, sleep apnea and depression: If these disorders disable you from going about your daily routine, it is important to see a doctor to pinpoint the cause and treat it.
7) Manage jet lag by getting plenty of rest before your trip and adjusting your body slowly to the new time zone prior to the trip: slowly resetting your body clock would help relieve the outcomes of jetlag
Waking up feeling sleep deprived and groggy can really affect your mood. Ultimately, the amount of rest you get sets you up for the rest of the day. Hence, it is important to see a doctor if this is a recurring problem for you in case there is an underlying cause that requires medical assistance. In any such case, you can directly consult doctors and chat with them by downloading Doc2Us on your App Store or Play Store whenever you need!
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