Battling Morning Grogginess? Here’s What You Need to Know
Adequate sleep is crucial for optimal health, so it’s not surprising that lacking it can negatively affect your mood. Feeling groggy in the morning is a normal side effect of sleep deprivation, and most people start feeling better as soon as they get a good night’s sleep. Still, some people experience disorientation and morning grogginess even after sleeping the recommended 8 hours. This feeling, which may be described as “sleep drunkenness”, is called sleep inertia.
Sleep inertia is common among people who work swing shifts because of their alternative sleep schedules, but other people can experience it too. Apart from the impact it can have on your mood, sleep inertia can also make you more prone to accidents and poor decision-making. Thus, it’s important to find out what’s causing your morning grogginess and find solutions.
What is sleep inertia?
Sleep inertia is the feeling of intense tiredness some people experience right when they wake up. If you’ve ever dealt with it, you likely felt like going back to bed, which may have caused you to oversleep.
Arriving late to work or school is just one of the annoyances of sleep inertia. It also leads to poor cognitive function, which may make you feel like you’re groggy and unable to perform typical tasks with ease. As a result, paying attention at school or performing tasks at work is a challenge. In some cases, it causes slower reaction times, which can be dangerous when you have to operate a vehicle or machinery.
Thankfully, sleep inertia usually only lasts about 15 minutes. However, in severe cases, it takes up to a few hours for the feelings of disorientation to dissipate. In the meantime, it’s normal to feel a bit sluggish mentally and physically.
What causes sleep inertia?
Although sleep inertia is quite common, the cause isn’t actually known. Sleep experts have various theories, which are as follows:
- Theory #1 - High Adenosine Levels: Your body naturally produces a compound called adenosine, which scientists believe is crucial to sleep. They theorize that this compound increases over the course of the day, creating “sleep pressure”, which results in sleepiness at your bedtime. When you sleep, your brain rids your body of this chemical, and your adenosine levels are low upon waking. However, it’s possible that sleep deprivation or poor quality sleep could cause remaining traces of adenosine when you wake up, leading to sleep inertia.
- Theory # 2 - Increased Delta Waves: Delta waves (also called slow waves) are most common during non-REM stages, especially deep sleep. However, people with sleep deprivation experience increased levels of delta waves when they finally catch some Zs. Some researchers believe that sleep inertia is the result of these increased waves, which have not been reduced yet. This may happen when the sleeper is awoken during non-rapid eye movement sleep or the because the delta waves are so high that the brain doesn’t fully prepare for wakefulness during REM sleep.
- Theory # 3 - Reduced Blood Flow: Depending on the sleep cycle a person is experiencing, blood flow to the brain either increases or decreases. Chronic fatigue syndrome has similar symptoms of sleep inertia, and this condition is linked to reduced blood flow to the brain. Thus, researchers theorize that this may also be the cause of sleep inertia.
Other factors that can affect sleep inertia
Although the exact cause of sleep inertia is unknown, there are some factors that can exacerbate the symptoms or increase your likeliness of waking up feeling groggy.
- Sleep Debt: Your body needs sufficient sleep to function properly, and the amount of sleep you’ve missed out on over the past 14 days is called “sleep debt”. The more sleep debt you’ve accumulated, the more likely you’ll experience the effects of sleep inertia. The best thing you can do to prevent it is to make sure you’re getting enough sleep every night.
- Recovery Sleep: Sleeping in can help you make up for the hours of sleep you missed out on last night, but it may worsen sleep inertia.
- Taking Long Naps: Naps can help you reduce sleep debt, but if they last too long, you’re more likely to wake up feeling disoriented. If possible, limit naps to 30 minutes.
- Awaking During Deep Sleep: During slow-wave sleep, your brain activity slows down and your body is hard at work, restoring tissues and fighting infections. The next stage in the sleep cycle is REM, and one of its jobs is preparing you for wakefulness. If something wakes you up before you experience REM, you probably won’t feel too refreshed.
- Chronotype: Your chronotype is your body’s preference for waking up or sleeping at certain times of the day. It’s the reason that some people are night owls while other people prefer waking up in the early morning hours. These natural sleep patterns are determined by your internal clock, which is called the circadian rhythm. If you struggle to wake up early give yourself a little extra time to get over your grogginess before you have to be productive in the morning.
How to help avoid morning grogginess
Even if you can’t pinpoint the reason for your morning grogginess, practicing good sleep hygiene can lead to better sleep. Here are some positive changes you can make.
- Reduce Caffeine Consumption: Drinking a cup of coffee or your favorite green tea can give you an added boost, but too much of it can lead to poor sleep quality, which may cause sleep inertia.
- Take Power Naps: Taking long naps can worsen sleep inertia, but short naps may have a positive effect on your energy levels. Keep them to 20 minutes or less.
- Improve Your Sleep Environment: Making adjustments to your bedroom can help you fall asleep faster and prevent you from waking up due to disturbances. You don’t have to purchase the best mattress on the market, but make sure yours is comfortable and allows you to sleep without tossing and turning all night. You should also keep the temperature cool and block out outside light with curtains or a sleep mask.
- Exercise Regularly: Physical activity is a great way to improve your sleep quality, and even 30 minutes of walking can make a big difference. However, you should avoid exercising too close to bedtime.
- Get An Expert's Opinion: If you have a sleep condition, it may be the cause of your poor sleep quality and daytime drowsiness. Visit a doctor to rule out sleep apnea, insomnia, and other disorders.
Wake up feeling refreshed with BrainLuxury
If you struggle with sleep inertia, it’s time to stop hitting the snooze button on your alarm clock every morning. Although more sleep research needs to be done to understand this condition fully, there are steps you can take to improve your sleep quality and wake up feeling well-rested.
In addition to the tips in this article, we invite you to try BrainLuxury DELTA, our sleep supplement that promotes natural, deep sleep. Unlike synthetic melatonin and some other sleep aids, DELTA doesn’t lead to morning grogginess, and promotes a natural sleep cycle, meaning you can wake up feeling refreshed. Learn more about BrainLuxury and the science behind our supplements today!
We hope this has helped you on your quest for brain health. If you have any questions about our products, feel free to reach out to our team.
The information Brainluxury provides is for educational and informational use only. The information is not intended to be used by the customer for any diagnostic purpose and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your physician or other healthcare providers with any questions you may have regarding diagnosis, cure, treatment, mitigation, or prevention of any disease or other medical condition or impairment or the status of your health.