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All of us have experienced those mornings when we wake up tired and groggy, despite sleeping for 7-9 hours.
While it may feel strange to wake up feeling just as tired as when we went to bed, sleep inertia is common, especially in today’s modern lifestyle. Some potential reasons we continue feeling tired after a full night’s sleep could be the sleeping environment or an uncomfortable bed.
Other factors may be related to our sleep habits, such as using electronics before bed or consuming caffeine too late in the day. Or one could be suffering from medical conditions, such as sleep apnea, thyroid problems, or depression.
In this article, we will explore some common causes of feeling tired after a full night’s sleep and share some tips to enjoy a restful, rejuvenating sleep.
Irregular bedtimes may disturb the circadian rhythms. Such changes in one’s sleep schedule can be triggered by various factors, such as job demands, schoolwork, or jet lag from traveling across time zones.
Most people watch TV or spend time on their phones before bed. While this may be a common routine, it can significantly hamper your sleep.
The blue light emitted by electronic screens can disrupt the sleep cycle by inhibiting melatonin production. So, we recommend wearing blue light glasses to minimize blue light exposure.
Moreover, experts recommend avoiding screen time entirely for at least half an hour before bedtime and keeping devices out of the sleeping area.
The temperature of a room can have an impact on a person’s body temperature, potentially resulting in difficulty sleeping if the room is too hot or too cold. That said, the ideal room temperature for comfortable sleep is generally around 65-68 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the most conducive to restful sleep.
Individuals with mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression often struggle to fall asleep. Such sleep disturbances can further contribute to and result from mental health disorders.
For instance, individuals experiencing chronic sleep problems have a higher risk of developing anxiety disorders. However, research indicates that anxiety can also contribute to insomnia. So, you see, it’s like a vicious cycle.
Several treatment options exist for individuals facing sleep issues alongside mental health conditions. These include relaxation techniques, medication, and therapy.
As such, we recommend discussing with a healthcare professional to determine which of the aforementioned options will be suitable for you to enjoy good quality sleep.
Experiencing stress in life can make it difficult to achieve deep sleep. Stress can stem from various factors, like a sudden deadline, as well as ongoing issues like financial difficulties or relationship troubles.
The body’s response to stress involves the release of chemicals that boost alertness, increase heart rate, and trigger muscle tension. While these reactions can be advantageous in situations that require quick action, they can hinder sleep.
Moreover, chronic stress can result in severe health implications and sleep disorders like insomnia. So, if stress is affecting your sleep quality for more than two weeks, it’s best to consult a healthcare provider.
There are approximately 60 different types of sleep disorders, but here are the most common ones:
These disorders are often left undiagnosed and untreated, potentially due to physicians rarely discussing them with their patients. Plus, sleep orders are often mistaken for medical or mental health conditions.
Drinking caffeine can disturb sleep by lengthening sleep latency and decreasing the overall quality of sleep. Caffeine is a stimulant that enhances alertness and energy and is found in various items like coffee, tea, chocolate, energy drinks, pain relievers, caffeinated drinks, and more.
Although the peak effect of this substance occurs around half an hour after consumption, it remains in the body for an extended period. This duration varies according to the consumer’s weight and age, along with other factors.
So, caffeine consumed long before going to bed can still affect your sleep, and the lack of sleep may cause morning sleepiness, leading to more caffeine consumption.
To prevent sleep difficulties, one should consume 250 milligrams (4-5 cups) of caffeine at the most. You can adjust the amount accordingly but avoid consuming caffeine at least eight hours before you sleep.
Some eating habits and food choices that can negatively impact sleep quality and quantity include:
If your diet does not offer the necessary nutrients to your body, it can inhibit the production of hormones required for regulating the sleep-wake cycle. In fact, diets low in Vitamin D, magnesium, and calcium can lead to sleep fragmentation and deprivation.
So, sleep experts recommend consuming fruits and vegetables rich in essential vitamins and minerals to promote better sleep patterns and reduce the risk of a serious sleep disorder.
Although alcohol is usually labeled as a relaxant, excessive consumption can reduce one’s ability to fall asleep, particularly when taken close to bedtime. So, while alcohol may initially help you fall asleep, it increases the likelihood of waking up during the night once its effect wears off. Additionally, drinking alcohol can worsen snoring and sleep apnea.
As such, it’s important to avoid alcohol several hours before bedtime to minimize unfavorable effects on your sleep quality.
Some behaviors associated with inactive lifestyles, like watching too much TV, can disrupt sleep. Not to forget, people with sleep difficulties/disorders are less likely to exercise because they feel fatigued.
On top of that, several health conditions, like sleep apnea, are linked with sleep disturbances and inactivity. Thankfully, exercise can help people with underlying conditions achieve a good night’s sleep.
But do consult your doctor before starting a new workout plan. Also, avoid high-intensity exercise at night, as that too may negatively affect sleep.
Sleeping according to your body’s natural clock is crucial, as too much sleep or too little sleep can be harmful.
First, determine when you must wake up and deduct 7.5 hours to get a suitable bedtime. This time frame is ideal because one experiences five 90-minute sleep cycles (including “sleep” and “deep sleep” cycles).
So, it is best to wake up between deep sleep cycles rather than in the middle of one, or else you may experience a heightened state of sleep inertia. You can also try sleeping for 7.5 hours for three days and note whether you wake up naturally about 10 minutes before your alarm goes off. If so, you've found your perfect bedtime.
Relaxation techniques can help to slow down the heart rate, relax the muscles, and quiet the mind. This can help promote a feeling of calmness and relaxation, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.
You can try counting your breaths, Dr. Andrew Weil’s 4-7-8 Method, body scan meditation, progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), and imagery. If you experience mind wandering - that’s okay! Stay calm, breathe slowly, and try focusing on your breaths again to enjoy a good night’s sleep.
Stay away from close-range electronic devices, like phones, laptops, etc. We suggest keeping such devices on “Silent” or “Do not disturb” mode to limit your exposure to blue light right before bedtime.
Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool. A comfortable and supportive bed is a must-have. You can also use a fan or a white noise machine to create a consistent rhythmic sound to help you relax and fall asleep.
Avoid overeating and alcohol consumption. It is also best to avoid caffeine, nicotine, sugary, spicy, and oily foods as they can cause digestive issues, resulting in a bad night’s sleep.
Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule is recommended for consistent good sleep. So, try waking up at the same time, even on weekends, engaging in calming activities like reading at least 30 minutes before bed, etc. You could also start a sleep journal to identify any patterns or factors that may be affecting the quality of your sleep.
Regular physical activity can do wonders for your sleep routine by reducing daytime fatigue. Exercise generates energy, so try to engage in at least 40 minutes of exercise four times a week. This energy boost further triggers the release of endorphins, which can create a sense of positivity.
So, don’t let daytime fatigue drag you down! Follow the aforementioned tips to enjoy undisturbed eight hours of sleep and wake up feeling fresh and productive.
However, if you continue waking up tired, it could be an indication of a more serious medical condition such as sleep apnea, anemia, narcolepsy, depression, nutrient deficiencies, etc. That’s when it is imperative to get medical attention from a reputable doctor. You also can seek help from the sleep team at an American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) accredited sleep center.