Do you frequently wake up feeling like you’re still half asleep? Does the groggy feeling stay with you for at least 15 minutes, but sometimes drags on for longer, maybe even a few hours? Then you may suffer from sleep inertia.
With the rise of the modern alarm clock and our caffeine-on-demand culture, we’ve collectively waved goodbye to our natural circadian rhythm. Instead, most of us are used to telling our bodies exactly when to wake up with a timed alarm. And if our mind won’t behave accordingly, we force it into alertness with caffeine or energy drinks.
But this isn’t how your body was made to operate, and the result of prolonged exposure to arbitrary alarms and stimulating substances can result in periodic or chronic sleep issues. One of the most common but least well-known of these problems is sleep inertia.
Sleep Inertia Affects Your Whole Body
When you have trouble waking up after sleeping – even after a quick nap – it could be sleep inertia. Sleep inertia presents itself as a general feeling of grogginess and reduced focus. It’s that feeling like you’re still on the verge of sleep. Not entirely awake, but not actually sleeping either. The reason you feel this way is because your body is still at least partially in a sleep state and it’s caused by waking up during a REM cycle.
During REM sleep, your levels of melatonin (which makes you drowsy) are elevated. You’re in a deeply restful state, and everything from your blood pressure and heart rate to brain activity and breathing are lower and slower.
When you interrupt your body during REM sleep, it can’t immediately adjust. Instead, you may wake up, but you’ll feel drowsy. The feeling of grogginess can last as little as 15 minutes or as much as a few hours, normally the latter for chronic sufferers.
Waking Up at the Wrong Time Can Cause All Kinds of Problems
In addition to the potentially negative effects of stimulants you might take to force your body into a more wakeful state, sleep inertia can cause other health issues directly. Sleep is supposed to recharge and refresh your body and mind. When you aren’t getting enough, or when you repeatedly interrupt your REM cycles, you can experience everything from reduced concentration and memory to low productivity and poor decision making.
How to Get Rid of Sleep Inertia for Good
With the right approach, you can reduce, and ultimately eliminate, sleep inertia. Creating a sleep schedule and sticking to it will help regulate your body’s circadian rhythm and can reduce the chances you’ll wake mid-REM cycle. However, you can’t plan for every scenario, and if you’re a light or restless sleeper, you still might find yourself waking periodically rather than sleeping soundly as planned.
For unpredictable sleepers, there are smart alarm clocks, in this case, called “sleep stage alarm clocks” that analyze your sleep cycles and wake you up at the most optimal time. And while there are actual sleep stage alarm clocks you can order, if you have a smartphone, you can use an app to do the same thing at a fraction of the cost. And, if you really don’t want to part with your existing alarm clock, you can try using the sleepyti.me website to calculate when is the best time to go to sleep so you can wake refreshed at the time you want to start your day. Or you can calculate when to wake up based on when you plan to fall asleep, and set your alarms based on that.
Waking up because you’re too hot, too cold, or just generally uncomfortable? Maybe it’s time you updated your bedding to provide a more restful and cosy sleeping environment. Explore our line of top-quality duvets, pillows, and mattress toppers to design your ideal sleep space today!