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Sleep Inertia: How to Reduce Morning Tiredness

Sleep Advice
October 25, 2022

Most of us have experienced the overwhelming urge to hit the "snooze" button and stay in bed a little longer. Although it's not unusual to feel tired when you begin waking up, if it takes you hours to feel fully alert in the morning, it could be a sign of sleep inertia.

Characterised by lingering feelings of grogginess, sleep inertia occurs when we transition from sleep to wakefulness and can set our day up poorly. It might explain why you spilt your coffee or why it took you a while to shake that foggy feeling. Factors such as staying up late, not getting enough sleep or waking up at a bad moment for your brain can all contribute to sleep inertia.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to improve your start to the day and reduce the impact of sleep inertia. 

What is Sleep Inertia?

Sleep inertia refers to the period of grogginess experienced after waking up. This state can last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours, making it difficult to focus and think clearly. Sleep inertia is a natural part of the sleep-wake cycle and typically occurs when we are woken up during the deeper stages of sleep, such as slow-wave sleep or rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

Factors Contributing to Sleep Inertia

Several factors can exacerbate sleep inertia, including:

  • Irregular sleep schedule: Going to bed and waking up at different times each day can disrupt your circadian rhythm and increase the likelihood of experiencing sleep inertia.
  • Lack of sleep: Not getting enough sleep can leave you feeling groggy and disoriented upon waking.
  • Waking up at a bad moment: Being woken up during the deeper stages of sleep can make sleep inertia more likely.

Tips to Combat Sleep Inertia

Here are several strategies to combat sleep inertia and start your day feeling more alert and energized.

1. Listen to Your Body

One of the most effective ways to reduce sleep inertia is to listen to your body and prioritize getting enough sleep. If you regularly feel tired, it might be a sign that you're not getting enough rest. Consider adjusting your bedtime to ensure you get a full night's sleep.

  • Establish a Consistent Sleep Schedule: Although not always possible, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. This helps regulate your circadian rhythm and can reduce the severity of sleep inertia.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine: Engage in calming activities before bed, such as reading, taking a warm bath, and listening to sleep sounds like rain falling. This can help signal to your body that it's time to wind down and prepare for sleep.

2. Maximize Your Exposure to Daylight

Natural light plays a crucial role in regulating your sleep-wake cycle. Exposure to daylight, particularly in the morning, signals to your brain that it’s time to wake up and start your day.

  • Get outside in the morning: Spend time outside in natural light as soon as possible after waking up. Even a short walk can help reduce feelings of grogginess and improve your alertness.
  • Create a bright indoor environment: If you can't get outside, try to make your indoor environment as bright as possible in the morning. Open curtains and blinds to let in natural light, and consider using a light therapy lamp if natural light is limited.
  • Adjust your schedule seasonally: During winter, when there is less daylight, try to adjust your wake-up time to coincide with the available natural light. This can help you combat the winter blues and make the most of mood-boosting daylight while ensuring you get enough sleep.

3. Start Your Day with a Motion-Sensing Smart Alarm

A badly-timed wake-up can exacerbate sleep inertia. The difference between a good and a bad moment to wake up can be just a matter of minutes.

  • Use a Sleepwave’s smart alarm: Sleepwave's motion-sensing smart alarm is designed to wake you up during a lighter stage of sleep. By setting a 15-minute window, the alarm will gently sound at a great moment based on your body movements, helping to combat lingering feelings of tiredness.
  • Track your sleep patterns: Monitoring your sleep with Sleepwave can help you understand your sleep patterns and make adjustments to improve your overall sleep quality. This can reduce the impact of sleep inertia and help you wake up feeling fresh.

By incorporating these tips into your routine, you can reduce the impact of sleep inertia and start your day feeling more alert, energized, and ready to tackle whatever comes your way.

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