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Exercise, Sleep Environment, Aging, Other Causes

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It’s not unusual to wake up feeling a bit groggy. For many people, it’s nothing a cup of coffee or shower can’t fix.

But if you regularly wake up tired, especially if you continue to feel fatigued throughout the day, there may be something else going on.

Here’s a look at some common causes of waking up tired.

Chances are, your morning grogginess is just sleep inertia, which is a normal part of the waking process. Your brain typically doesn’t instantly wake up after sleeping. It transitions gradually to a wakeful state.

During this transition period, you may feel groggy or disoriented. If you aren’t careful, you can easily fall back asleep.

Sleep inertia slows down your motor and cognitive skills, which is why it sometimes feels impossible to do anything right after you wake up.

Sleep inertia can last anywhere from a few minutes to over an hour, though it typically improves within 15 to 60 minutes.

If within the first few hours of falling asleep, you suddenly wake up from a deep sleep and are in a confused state, you may have sleep drunkenness.

Also called confusional arousals, sleep drunkenness is a sleep disorder that bypasses the inertia phase. An episode may last for up to 30 to 40 minutes. You may not even remember it occurred when you wake up to start the day.

You’re more likely to experience symptoms of sleep inertia or sleep drunkenness when you:

  • don’t get enough sleep
  • wake up abruptly from a deep sleep
  • set your alarm for earlier than usual

Sleep inertia can also be worsened by shift work sleep disorder, obstructive sleep apnea, and certain types of circadian rhythm sleep disorder.

what you can do

Sleep inertia is a natural part of waking up, but you can limit its effects by:

  • regularly getting a full night’s sleep
  • limiting naps to less than 30 minutes
  • drinking coffee or another caffeinated beverage when you get up
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If your symptoms persist, visit your primary healthcare provider. They can rule out an underlying sleep disorder.

Blue light is any artificial lighting that emits blue wavelengths, which aren’t necessarily a bad thing. During daylight hours, they can boost alertness and mood. But this isn’t the vibe you’re going for when you’re heading off to bed.

Energy-efficient lighting and electronic screens have increased our exposure to blue light, especially after sundown.

Blue light, more than other types of light, suppresses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate your body’s circadian rhythm, which is your sleep-wake cycle. This makes it harder for you to get good-quality sleep, which can leave you feeling tired the next morning.

what you can do

To reduce the impact of blue light on your sleep:

  • Avoid screen time for two or three hours before you go to bed.
  • Use dim red lights at night, which don’t have as powerful of a melatonin-suppressing effect on your circadian rhythm.
  • Expose yourself to a lot of bright light during the day.
  • Use blue-blocking glasses at night or an app that filters blue light if you have to use electronics at night.

A poor sleep environment can have a big impact on the quality of your sleep.

Mattress problems

If your morning fatigue is accompanied by stiffness or aching body parts, your mattress could be to blame.

Research shows that a medium-firm mattress is best. The age of your mattress also matters. A small 2009 study found that participants reported better sleep quality and fewer aches and pains in the morning after sleeping on a new mattress.

Mattresses are also home to common allergens — such as dust mites, which can cause nighttime sneezing and coughing, especially in people with allergies and asthma.

What you can do

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Make sure your mattress isn’t hurting your sleep quality by:

  • replacing your mattress every 9 or 10 years, ideally with a medium-firm mattress
  • using a hypoallergenic mattress cover if you have allergies

Too-cold or too-hot bedroom

Being too hot or too cold can cause restlessness and make it hard for you to fall or stay asleep. Personal preference should play a role in your bedroom’s temperature, but a cooler room is better when it comes to a comfortable sleep, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

If you still have trouble sleeping, warming your feet by wearing socks may help dilate blood vessels and adjust your internal thermostat.

A 2007 study shows that adults who wore unheated or heated socks to bed were able to fall asleep faster.

what you can do

Create the optimal temperature for quality sleep by:

  • keeping your bedroom between 60°F and 67°F (15°C and 19°C)
  • wearing socks to bed or placing a hot water bottle at your feet
  • choosing appropriate sleepwear and bedding for your local climate

Loud noises

Even if you’re the type of person who can fall asleep with the TV on, noise can still have a big impact on your sleep quality.

Reducing background noise can help to increase the amount of deep sleep you get each night and decrease the number of times you wake up during the night.

What you can do

Even if you can’t get rid of the source of noise, you can try:

  • sleeping with earplugs
  • using a sound machine, which you can find on Amazon
  • keeping your windows and bedroom door closed

What you consume before bed can keep you up at night and make you feel tired in the morning.

Too much caffeine

Caffeine is a natural stimulant that promotes alertness.

Having too much caffeine during the day or…

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