Can’t wake up in the morning? It’s not you—it’s sleep inertia

Most people find it difficult to wake up after going to bed late or during the night when they have had a bad night’s sleep. But why is it difficult to wake up in the morning even after your eight hours of deep sleep?

Sleep inertia cannot evoke that feeling. Inertia, or resistance to motion, was established by scientist Isaac Newton as his first law of motion: A body at rest remains at rest. Like general inertia, sleep inertia makes it difficult to get out of that resting state. In other words, it is difficult to wake up after a long nap or a full night’s sleep. Once you wake up, you may feel groggy a few minutes to a few hours later.

Anyone can experience sleep inertia. Some common symptoms are:

  • restlessness
  • I want to go back to sleep
  • Impaired cognitive ability
  • Visually impaired
  • Impaired spatial memory

Some people have a more severe form of sleep inertia, called “sleep drunk.” With this type of sleep, inertia, confusion, slowness and lack of coordination can last up to four hours.

Although sleep inertia is not a sleep disorder, sleep apnea and other conditions can make sleep inertia symptoms more severe. Similarly, sleep inertia can worsen the symptoms of other sleep disorders.

There are several theories about the causes of sleep inertia

Scientists aren’t sure exactly what causes sleep inertia to feel tired. But they have some ideas.

high Adenosine layer Adenosine is a brain chemical that rises and falls during the day to help people sleep and wake up. High levels of adenosine in the morning promote sleep.

disruption of REM sleep cycle. Humans go through multiple sleep cycles at night. They can feel restless and disoriented when deep sleep is disturbed.

Delta wave levels increased in the brain People with sleep inertia have high levels of delta waves, which are associated with deep sleep.

Decreased blood flow in the brain During sleep, it can affect cognition.

The prefrontal cortex. Decision-making parts of the brain, such as the prefrontal cortex, may reactivate or wake up more slowly than the rest of the body.

yours Chronotype may be a factor. Your chronotype, which is your circadian preference for sleep and wakefulness (ie, early risers vs. night owls), may be a factor, as research suggests that night owls need more time to recover from sleep inertia than early risers.

When sleep inertia is a problem

Sleep inertia is initially a difficulty for some people as they struggle with the urge to roll over for a few more Zzz’s. But for others, sleep inertia can be dangerous. Low awareness can make people more susceptible to accidents.

This problem is particularly concentrated for those who work late at night and in third shifts, such as factory workers or transport drivers. This is especially problematic for people who work in jobs that typically involve interrupted sleep cycles but require urgent decisions to be made after waking up, such as medical professionals and emergency responders.

Dealing with sleep inertia

So what can people do to feel wide awake when they wake up in the morning?

Get enough sleep. This often starts with setting a schedule for going to bed and getting up at the same time each day. Sleep inertia can worsen when you are sleep deprived. Even if you got eight hours of sleep last night, you may still have a sleep deficit from the previous days of missed rest.

Take a power nap During the day. But keep it short: 20 to 30 minutes, so you don’t fall into a long, deep sleep.

Drink caffeine To help wake up in the morning and wake up before waking up. Caffeine helps block adenosine receptors in the brain, making you more alert.

Make your room comfortable for sleeping. Keep it cool and dark and power down devices with distracting bright lights

use Fitbit’s advanced sleep tool. Wear your Fitbit while you sleep and let it work its magic. First, set a sleep goal in addition to a regular bedtime and wake-up goal. Then wear your Fitbit watch or tracker to record how long you sleep. You can analyze your patterns and adjust accordingly, all within the Fitbit app.

You can tap into your sleep score and new sleep profile with Fitbit Premium to better understand your sleep habits. Learn more about how Fitbit can help you get a better night’s rest.

exercise Yoga or simple stretches increase blood flow throughout the body, which helps you wake up.

Eat an energy-rich breakfast. A breakfast with protein and complex carbohydrates will be satisfying and help sustain energy throughout the morning.

Make time to wake up from sleep inertia. Start your day slowly and recognize that even when you’re awake, your brain may not be ready to do taxing tasks or make big decisions until the end of the day.

Change your alarm to one that is more melodious. Researchers have found that waking up to a beeping alarm increases sleep inertia, disrupts sleep cycles, and creates stress. Instead, an alarm with a melodious tune or a favorite upbeat song makes for a better transition from sleep to wakefulness.

If you sleep with your Fitbit device on, set a silent alarm on your tracker or watch to gently wake you up with a gentle vibration on your wrist. And with Smart Wake, you can set your Fitbit alarm to wake you up during light sleep stages so you wake up feeling more refreshed.

Avoiding sleep inertia may be impossible, but you don’t have to accept it passively. If you don’t have time to snuggle under the covers, understanding what causes sleep inertia and tips to prevent it will give you the energy to wake up fully awake so you can start your day successfully.

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