Why Is It So Hard to Wake Up? Simple Tips for Smoother Mornings
An overall lack of sleep can make it hard to wake up in the morning, and additional factors like sleep disruptions and a lack of natural light can make it even more difficult to start your day. Learn more about why waking up is so hard and how you can set yourself up for easier wake-ups.
Sleep inertia is the natural period of grogginess when your brain wakes up for the day
Parasomnias like sleep talking can cause disruptions in deep sleep during the night
For smoother wake-ups, it’s best to avoid snoozing your alarm and focus on getting plenty of natural light
Did you know?
Puberty affects circadian rhythms, causing teens to naturally gravitate towards later bedtimes and early wake-up times
What Do You Do When You Struggle To Wake Up Even After 8 Hours Of Sleep?
The recommended amount of sleep for adults is 7-9 hours per night. But logging this many hours in bed doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and well-rested.
So why is it so hard to wake up even after getting the required amount of sleep? The answer comes down to a combination of sleep hygiene, sleep loss, and sleep inertia.
It’s normal for it to take some time to feel awake, alert, and ready for the day, but if you find yourself feeling groggy long after you roll out of bed, it’s a good idea to get a better sense of what might be making it hard to wake up.
Reasons Why You Can’t Wake Up In the Morning
Common culprits for groggy mornings include sleep inertia, overall sleep loss, and disruptions in circadian rhythms. In some cases, medical conditions (such as sleepwalking) and certain medications can make it harder to wake up
If you find it hard to get out of bed, you’re not alone! However, if you continue to feel foggy well into the day, it may be a good idea to speak with a medical professional to see if there are underlying conditions at play.
1. Sleep Inertia
That groggy feeling you get right after waking up has a name: sleep inertia. Just like it takes some time for your brain to calm down before you can fall asleep, it takes time for your brain to fully wake up and start functioning.
Sleep inertia is a normal part of waking up, and on average, it lasts around 30 minutes.
But the time increases if you’re sleep deprived — one study found that the condition gets worse if you aren’t getting enough sleep overall, or if you’re waking up at the wrong time.
So if you’re finding that it takes you longer than half an hour to feel awake and alert, there could be additional factors at play.
2. Lack of Sleep
It probably isn’t surprising to hear that lack of sleep can make waking up more difficult. But this doesn’t correspond only to the number of hours you spent in bed the night before. It’s more about the amount of sleep you’re getting on a regular basis.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep per night for adults. The exact number of hours you need varies from person to person, but once you have a general sense of how much sleep helps you feel rested, the concept of sleep debt may be helpful.
So what is sleep debt? It’s a short way to describe the way that a lack of sleep can add up and cause fatigue over time.
Imagine you feel rested after nine hours of sleep per night, but you only get six hours one Monday. You now have three hours of sleep debt. This means that even if you sleep a full nine hours on Tuesday night, you still might feel tired (and have trouble waking up) on Wednesday.
Additionally, it can be hard to tell how much deep sleep you’re getting just from knowing how many hours you were lying down. Sleep disruptions during the night can cause an overall lack of deep sleep, which is a sure set-up for grumpy mornings.
2. Circadian Rhythms
Why is it so hard to wake up in winter? Later sunrises and earlier sunsets make it harder for our circadian rhythms to kick in and wake up our bodies. And while circadian rhythms do naturally adjust to the change in seasons, they can’t keep up with day-to-day sleep schedule changes as quickly.
Light is the most important cue for our body’s internal clocks, which is part of why avoiding blue light before bed can help you fall asleep faster. So if you’re having difficulty waking up in the morning, taking a closer look at the lighting in your room (both at night and in the morning) can help.
Why is it so hard to wake up for school?
Teens gravitate towards a later bedtime and a later wake up time, and it’s not just a personal preference — it’s actually because of puberty. Naturally shifting circadian rhythms make it harder for adolescents to wake up early.
This is why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that middle and high schools should start at 8:30 am or later. But for most teenagers, school starts much earlier than 8:30, clashing with their natural sleep-wake schedules.
Kids usually can’t do much on an individual level to change their school start times. Still, understanding why it’s so hard to wake up early for school can help teens and their caregivers search for sleep solutions that make sense.
4. Sleep Conditions
“Parasomnias” are medical conditions that disrupt sleep. These include sleep walking, sleep talking, and sleep paralysis. During these conditions, you aren’t completely awake, and you may or may not remember the sleep disruption when you wake up.
When your sleep is interrupted by a parasomnia, you might feel particularly confused or disoriented when you wake up. You might also find yourself feeling tired throughout the day.
If you think you might have a sleep condition such as a parasomnia, it’s best to ask your doctor to help determine a diagnosis. Sleep studies or sleep diaries can be used to get to the bottom of your tossing and turning.
Why is it so hard to wake up when depressed?
Certain mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety, make it harder to get the restorative rest you need to wake up feeling refreshed. Fatigue, insomnia, and oversleeping are all common symptoms of depression.
Depression and sleep are closely related. People with depression often have trouble sleeping, and people who have trouble sleeping often find that this makes symptoms of depression worse.
A comprehensive depression treatment plan usually involves a mixture of therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes, which can eventually get you on track for easier mornings
Does ADHD make it harder to wake up?
Some symptoms like insomnia and restless leg syndrome (RLS) are more common for people with ADHD. Difficulty waking up in the morning is also frequently reported.
he good news is, getting better sleep might make ADHD symptoms milder. Sleep has a big impact on mental health in general, which means improving your sleep hygiene can help with both your physical and mental wellbeing.
Even over-the-counter medications like cough suppressants and pain relievers can impact sleep patterns.
It’s never a good idea to stop taking a prescription medication without speaking with your doctor, so if you suspect your meds could be making it harder to sleep, it’s best to bring this up with a healthcare professional.
Your doctor can help you decide the next best step for your sleep, whether it involves switching medications, changing the time you take your meds, or adjusting your dosage.
How to Wake Yourself Up In The Morning
It can be hard to know what to do when you struggle to wake up, because the road to easy mornings starts with good sleep the night before.
You might be able to turn your morning around with natural light, a nourishing breakfast, or caffeine, but it’s a good idea to think about long-term solutions for getting more (and better) sleep.
You can improve your overall sleep hygiene by going to bed at the same time each night and reducing blue light exposure. Sleep aids like knitted weighted blankets and aromatherapy can also help you on your way to more restful wake-ups.
Establish a Consistent Sleep Schedule
With an early morning on the horizon, you might curl up in bed right on time, then lie awake for hours waiting for sleep to come. In the end, you wake up as groggy and grumpy as ever.
This is because your biological clock is still playing catch-up. Even though you want to fall asleep earlier than usual, your body isn’t ready.
To help reset your circadian rhythms and feel more rested each morning, it’s a good idea to go to sleep and wake up at consistent times every day. Aim for a bedtime and wake-up time that allows you to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
When you first start changing your sleep schedule, you might have trouble falling asleep, but if you keep waking up at the same time each day, your body should eventually adjust. You’ll start to get sleepy earlier and wake up feeling more refreshed.
If you’re having trouble sticking to your new bedtime, it can help to create your own personalized bedtime routine. Pick a time each night to stop using blue light (aka your phone) and start unwinding.
Stress-relieving activities like reading, journaling, or meditating can help calm your body and mind for a relaxing night
Try a Weighted Blanket
A relaxing bedtime routine can’t solve every sleep problem, and sometimes you’ll need a little extra help drifting off to dreamland.
Before reaching for sleep supplements or pills, it’s a good idea to try natural sleep aids that have the potential to be a long-term solution.
Weighted blankets promote sleep and stress relief through deep touch pressure (DTP). Like a big hug from a loved one, a weighted blanket lowers cortisol (the stress hormone) and raises melatonin and serotonin, helping people fall and stay asleep.
Whichever weighted blanket you choose, we recommend starting with one that weighs about 10% of your overall body weight for the right balance of snug and comfy.
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Don’t Snooze Your Alarm
Snoozing your alarm makes waking up harder — it can even cause a fight-or-flight physical response as your body is jolted out of sleep again and again.
But when you first wake up to the sound of your alarm clock, more sleep might be the first thing on your mind. And if you snooze your alarm regularly, it can become muscle memory, making it more likely for you to hit snooze without even realizing it.
Once you’re fully awake, you’ll probably realize that those precious extra minutes in bed didn’t make you any less tired in the long run. So how can you train yourself to stop hitting snooze?
Keeping your alarm clock (or phone) away from your bed is a good place to start. If you have to stand up and walk across the room to reach the alarm, you’ll start waking up before you have a chance to hit snooze.
It can also help to opt for a gentle alarm sound that you don’t find irritating — this can allow you to wake up more gradually.
Open the Curtains
Getting natural light in the morning can help you feel more energized and even sleep better the following night.
Everyone’s morning routine looks different. An early morning walk might be a great way for some people to get their daily dose of sunlight, while others might find it easier to simply let light into their space by opening the curtains or blinds.
Adjusting the amount of light that surrounds you in the morning and at night can help you get your biological sleep clock back on track and wake up feeling refreshed.
Eat a Nourishing Breakfast
Whether or not you feel hungry first thing in the morning, eating breakfast is a sure way to give yourself more energy. Planning a breakfast that you’ll look forward to and enjoy is also a great way to incentivize skipping the snooze button.
If you find that you just aren’t hungry first thing in the morning, there’s no need to stress. Not eating breakfast won’t necessarily be harmful, as long as you’re eating enough throughout the rest of the day.
But if you’re typically low in energy all morning long, eating a breakfast with a balanced combination of protein and fat can help you feel full and ready to tackle the day.
Find Joyful Movement
Morning workouts aren’t a good fit for everyone, but the good news is, exercising at just about any time of day can help you get better sleep at night.
Aerobic exercise like swimming, biking, or running typically make the biggest difference when it comes to falling asleep the following evening.
That said, simple movement like stretching in the morning can help you wake up and set you up for an energized day
Sleep inertia is a natural part of waking up. Your brain takes some time to become fully alert each morning. But if you’re finding it unusually hard to wake, or if you feel groggy well into your morning, it’s probably a sign that you aren’t getting the restorative rest you need at night.
It could be that you haven’t been getting enough hours of sleep and you’ve built up sleep debt over several nights.
Or maybe you’re spending plenty of hours in bed, but you’re experiencing sleep disruptions or parasomnias that keep you tossing and turning.
Whatever the case, there are steps you can take to readjust your circadian rhythm and make it easier to wake up each morning. By establishing a consistent sleep schedule, taking care to avoid snoozing your alarm, and adding energizing moments to your morning, you can set yourself up for more restful wake-ups in the future.