15 Facts About Sleep Inertia
Do you feel extra tired in the morning? Well, it might be due to sleep inertia. It’s not only because you don’t get enough sleep. Here are 15 facts about sleep inertia and how to cure it.
1. What is sleep inertia?
Sleep inertia happens when you experience an impaired cognitive state from waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle.
Often people who experience sleep inertia say it’s because they are not “morning people.”
Sleep inertia appears as the feeling of being not fully awake, or extreme grogginess (I know you know what I’m talking about).
Sometimes, sleep inertia can be so severe that it becomes impossible to perform simple tasks like driving or making your coffee.
2. How long does it last?
Typically sleep inertia will only last between 15-60 minutes. However, sometimes it can last up to 4 hours.
It can make mornings feel like they are dragging on forever and can make some people feel very depressed.
3. Feeling Irritable?
Sleep inertia will also cause irritability in the morning.
We all know that person who is just horrible in the morning.
They don’t smile or even want to talk.
But once the afternoon hits, they return to normal.
That person is probably experiencing sleep inertia. And if they are, then direct them to this blog post so they can cure themselves.
4. Over Sleeping
Have you ever slept in too long and felt as if you are more tired than usual?
Feeling tired even though you got more sleep than usual is due to waking up in the middle of your sleep cycle.
If you had slept for 9.5 hours instead of your usual 8, you wouldn’t feel so tired.
A typical sleep cycle last 90 minutes, so adding an extra 1.5 hours will feel more refreshing than adding 2.
5. Hitting Snooze
Hitting the snooze button is the biggest culprit of sleep inertia.
Hitting snooze does absolutely nothing but harm.
It will not help you feel more refreshed.
It will only cause you to experience sleep inertia.
Stay away from the snooze button, just wake up immediately after you wake up and you will feel better.
Waking up in the morning is never easy, but you’ll only make it harder by hitting snooze.
6. “Short” Naps
Naps that last longer than 20 minutes can cause sleep inertia as well.
Once your body goes into a slow-wave sleep cycle, it won’t come out until it has finished the cycle.
That’s why naps sometimes have you feeling more tired than when you initially decided to take a nap!
The best practice is to either sleep or nap. Naps should last no longer than 20-minutes and sleep should last no shorter than 5 hours.
7. Deficits in Spatial Memory
People often experience a decrease in what’s called spatial memory.
Spatial memory is how well you remember things that happened in your environment.
Have you ever forgot where you put your phone before you are about to head out the door?
That is due to a loss of spatial memory.
8. Reaction Time
Sleep inertia can decrease your reaction time to levels compared to being intoxicated.
That’s why sleep inertia can make driving difficult.
More accidents happen in during morning rush hour than in the afternoon rush hour because of sleep inertia.
9. Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprived individuals have longer sleep cycles.
If you don’t get enough sleep, it is more likely that you will wake up in the middle of a sleep cycle.
And that means that you are also more likely to experience sleep inertia as well.
Caffeine will help you combat the effects of sleep inertia.
That’s why many people turn straight to the coffee machine to help them feel “normal.”
There is absolutely nothing wrong with drinking coffee, but having to turn to coffee to help you feel normal is not ideal.
Coffee should be used to help you feel even more energy. Not to feel “normal.”
Light based alarms can save you from sleep inertia.
I use a light based alarm.
I have an aquarium right beside my bed.
There is an auto timer for the light, and when 5:30 am hits, the alarm turns on and my room lights up with a bright light.
I usually wake up soon after just from the light.
Waking up with light is much easier than having to wake up in darkness.
12. Mild Alarms
If you don’t have a light based alarm, you can always try waking up to mild sounds.
There is moderate evidence that sounds can help combat the effects of sleep inertia.
If I were to use an alarm, I would use bird chirping, or waves crashing.
Don’t use your blaring alarm; it will just make you hate mornings even more.
13. Cold Showers
Whenever I feel extra groggy in the morning, I just hop into a freezing cold shower for 1 minute and next thing I know, I’m fully awake.
Cold showers will increase your heart rate and get your adrenaline pumping through your veins.
I know it will suck, but what sucks more than a cold shower is feeling groggy and irritable in the morning.
I wrote two articles about cold showers that you might find interesting. A man named Wim Hof inspired me to start taking cold showers. Crazy story, but I haven’t gotten sick since I started jumping into cold showers.
If you’re interested in checking out Wim Hof yourself, here is a link to a YouTube interview featuring him.
14. Morning Walks
Studies show that there is a decrease in blood flow to the brain upon awakening, this also causes sleep inertia.
An easy way to get the blood flowing to the brain would be going for a morning walk. Rain or shine.
Just 10 minutes is all it takes. Put on your shoes and some weather appropriate clothing and head outside for a walk around the block.
While walking, focus on taking breathing deeply, this will circulate your blood and bring more fresh blood to your brain.
15. The Best Alarm
The best alarm you can use is the one we all have. Our internal clocks.
If you have the luxury of waking up naturally, that would be ideal.
Don’t set the alarm and only get up when you feel like you are ready to get up.
Whether that’s 6 hours or 9 hours, it doesn’t matter.
Without a doubt, waking up without an alarm is the best way to combat sleep inertia.