Will I Ever Stop Feeling Like I Can't Wake Up?

By: Sarah Cocchimiglio

Updated December 22, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn

Many people struggle to wake up or pull themselves out of bed in the mornings. We all know how it feels to hit "snooze" on the alarm… but sometimes, waking up seems almost impossible. Lack of sleep or poor sleep quality are problematic for your physical and mental health regardless of the reasons. That being said, knowing the underlying cause can help you determine the right steps for getting your sleep on track. Let's take a closer look at some of the reasons you may have difficulty waking up, and the small changes you can make to help you feel ready to take on the world every morning.

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Can't Pull Me Out of Bed

One of the most common reasons a person feels they can't wake up is that they just don't get quality sleep. They wake up feeling exhausted and can't pull themselves out of bed. If this is the reason you feel you can't wake up in the morning, you may only need to adjust some of your daily habits.

Here are some things you can try.

Go to Sleep Earlier

You may not be getting enough sleep. If you're trying to cram all your sleep into four to six hours, your body is likely telling you that you need to stay in bed a bit longer. Of course, often you have to get up in the morning. And that means you may need to hit the pillow earlier in the evening.

Going to bed early may not always be the fun choice, but your body and mind will thank you. Studies have repeatedly shown that we function much less efficiently on even slightly less sleep. Not only that, but lack of sleep may contribute to mental health conditions, like anxiety and depression.

Drink Your Caffeine Earlier

Even if you feel tired at bedtime and fall asleep easily, drinking caffeine in the evening can disrupt your sleep quality. What that means is that although you think you were asleep all night, your sleep cycles aren't working quite the same as they would if you did not have caffeine. Your brain remains in a more hyper state during the night.

The result is that you get poor sleep and wake up still feeling exhausted. Of course, that's going to make it difficult to pull yourself out of bed. You don't have to give up caffeine to alleviate this problem. Just try pulling back the time of your last caffeinated beverage so you have at least four hours for it to wear off before you sleep.

Exercise More

Getting enough exercise every day helps you sleep better at night. This one takes more effort than going to bed early and adjusting your caffeine intake. But once you get into the routine of exercising, it will likely become something you look forward to because it makes you feel great.

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If you're too exhausted to pull yourself out of bed each day, taking a look at your daily habits can help.

You Can't Wake Up-This Is Not a Dream

Many people experience episodes where they think they are awake, yet they can't move or speak. This phenomenon is called sleep paralysis, and it's fairly common. Millions of people report episodes of sleep paralysis each year.

When you have this experience, it is just your body moving through the sleep cycle less efficiently. It may feel like you're awake, and you may even be partially aware of sights or sounds near you. But you can't completely trust your senses in this state.

In addition to being unable to move, many people who experience sleep paralysis also report hearing or seeing things that were not there. That's because your mind is still literally in a partial dream state. Some people refer to this as liminal dreaming, that is, sights or sounds your mind projects when you are in a state of waking or falling asleep. You are in between sleep and wakefulness.

Sleep paralysis is not a sign of any mental health problem, and most people who experience it have no medical cause for these episodes. Even though this phenomenon is harmless and quite common, it can be scary. If you have frequent episodes of sleep paralysis, it's a good idea to review the above sleep habits. It's possible that poor sleep quality is causing the problem. Alcohol, nicotine, sleep medicine and other drugs may also exacerbate sleep paralysis.

Trying to Wake Up but Can't Open My Eyes

Some people try all the tips for getting better sleep, including an earlier bedtime (sleep schedule), avoiding caffeine, and getting more exercise, and they still can't seem to wake up on time or feel rested. For some, they just can't make their bodies fall asleep any earlier. Or they don't feel rested in the morning, despite getting seven or eight hours of sleep.

If you've tried everything to wake up on time and you still feel like you just can't open your eyes, you may have a sleep phase disorder or circadian disorder. These are inherited differences in sleep patterns, and they are usually not treatable. That means, unfortunately, that no matter what you do, you may never be able to follow the same sleep and wake patterns the majority of people follow.

The type of sleep phase disorder that results in later sleep and waking times is called delayed sleep phase syndrome. People with this tendency usually feel their natural urge to fall asleep between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m., as opposed to the "normal" range of about 9 p.m. to 12 a.m.

You can talk to a sleep professional about ways to mitigate this problem so you can function better, especially at work. That being said, for many with delayed sleep phase syndrome, the healthiest and most effective strategy is to find a work schedule that allows you to follow your natural sleep and waking pattern.

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Finally, let's talk about the feeling of being in a sleep state.

Wake Me Up Inside

If you're able to get out of bed but still feel mentally asleep, you may have a different problem that is not a sleep disorder. Feeling like you are asleep on the inside while continuing to go through the motions of living is a symptom of depression. However, there is hope. Research and personal stories both show that online therapy can be a powerful solution for treating depression symptoms such as feeling unable to wake up. 

If you've tried all the usual tricks to get a better night's sleep but it's not working, it might be time to talk to someone who can give medical advice. Whether it's day-to-day stress, depression, or something more serious, one of BetterHelp's licensed therapists can help. A licensed therapist can figure out the exact underlying cause behind your feelings of not being able to wake up, to address that cause directly and provide long-term relief. No matter what you're experiencing, there are healthy ways to find your motivation again. 

Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

"Dr. Broz had made a significant impact on my life. After just one session with her I was able to get more sleep and handle issues with my husband and young kids better. She's empathic and very easy to talk to. I would recommend her to anyone looking for help with stress, sleep issues, anger or relationship advice. Thanks Sandra for everything you do for me and all your patients."

"I tried a few counselors and almost gave up until I found Colleen. I love her! She's easy to talk to, really gets me and best of all she makes me feel like I'm talking to a friend. She's given me some great tips and I'm sleeping better already most nights."


Now that you know some of the potential underlying reasons you might be having trouble waking up, you can develop a strategy for starting each day right. Before you know it, you'll be waking up happier, healthier, and ready to face each day full of energy and enthusiasm. Take the first step today.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why do I feel like I can't wake up?

If you feel like you can't wake up refreshed, and you instead feel like you haven't fully woken up yet, here are a few reasons as to why that may be the case.

  • You feel like you can't wake up because you haven't gotten enough sleep. If you always wake up early or try to "catch up" on sleep during the weekends, it may not be enough.
  • You can't wake up because your sleep quality isn't that good. You may be taking alcohol and it can disrupt your sleep.
  • You have another sleep problem, such as sleepwalking, that is affecting your sleep quality.
  • It can be due to a mental health problem such as depression.
  • You're waking up tired due to another medical condition, which you should consult your doctor about.
  • In addition to depression, other potential mental health issues may include:

    This is not an exhaustive list, and you should not attempt to diagnose a mental health issue by yourself. Temporary psychiatric crises can also occur that make you feel you are acting in ways you have no control over. Adverse reactions to certain medications can sometimes cause this.

If you're unsure, talk to a doctor or a therapist. With treatment, you can sleep better and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.

How do you get out of sleep paralysis?

You can't snap out of sleep paralysis; your body will do that automatically. Instead, you should look at preventing sleep paralysis. Improving how much sleep you get and your sleep quality are just a few ways that you can tackle sleep paralysis.

With that said, sleep paralysis can happen to anyone. It's also important that you don't psyche yourself out whenever you have it. Tell yourself that you're just experiencing an episode, and it'll be over soon. Think happy thoughts. Soon, you'll be awake.

Why does it feel like I just fell asleep?

This may be a case of microsleep. This is when your brain falls asleep for a split second and you experience brief episodes of sleeplessness. You feel like you're nodding off, but then you snap back awake.

Microsleep can happen when you're sleep deprived, but it can happen in many ways. If you've been driving or doing another repetitive task for a while, you may be experiencing microsleep.

Why don't I feel refreshed after sleeping?

If you're waking up tired, there may be many reasons for this. Here are some reasons why.

  • Your sleep quality is poor. If you took a lot of alcohol before bed, or you're sleepwalking a lot, it can affect your sleep. You're not getting the deep sleep you need, and as a result, you're waking up tired.
  • You're waking up tired due to depression. Having a cloudy mind can make you always feel tired, even if you slept a lot.
  • You're not getting enough sleep or getting too much. It's always important to get around 7-8 hours, but needs can differ. If you're waking up tired but you're in that ballpark, talk to a doctor and see what they can do for you.
  • Another reason you're waking up tired may be due to a vitamin deficiency or another problem. This is something you should talk to your doctor about as well.
  • Finally, you may be waking up tired due to your diet. Certain foods can make you feel sluggish.

How do you fix sleep inertia?

Sleep inertia is when you don't feel cognitively all there when you wake up from sleep. It goes away on its own, usually, but here are a few ways that you can increase your chances of recovering from it.

  • Go outside and get some sunlight. Light can regulate your sleep cycles, and when you're not getting enough sun, you may wake up feeling like you can't function.
  • Take a power nap. Napping for a while can make your inertia worse, but if you nap for under 30 minutes, it can make you feel much better. Make sure you set the alarm, so you wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day.
  • Get some caffeine in. Have a nice cup of coffee. A cup a day is good for you, and it can make it much easier for you to wake up.

Can you die from sleep paralysis?

Sleep paralysis is when you're unable to move for a few minutes during the wake up process. It can be a scary sensation, even though it only lasts a few seconds or minutes. Despite its anxiety-inducing effects, you can't die from it.

What is Sexsomnia?

Sexsomnia is when you engage in sexual activity while you're asleep. The most infamous phenomenon caused by sexsomnia tends to be the wet dream, where one experiences an ejaculation during sleep. Sexsomnia may lead to you engaging in intercourse with your partner while you're sleeping, which could land you in trouble. It can be caused by stress, sleep deprivation, or too much alcohol.

What triggers sleep paralysis?

There are a few things that can trigger sleep paralysis. These include:

  • Adolescence. You're more likely to get it if you're a teenager.
  • Too much stress.
  • Being sleep deprived.
  • Jet lag.
  • Having anxiety or panic disorder.

What is it called when you can't move your body?

This is called paralysis. In the context of sleep, this is known as sleep paralysis. This is when the transition between sleep and wakefulness doesn't go smoothly, and you feel like you can't move for a bit.

What does Hypnic jerk feel like?

The hypnic jerk, also known as sleep start, feels like a body convulsion. Usually, this feels like you're jerking back awake when you fall asleep. It usually happens to everyone a few times in their lives, and usually doesn't require you to see a doctor.

Can you be sleeping but feel awake?

Some people have felt like they're still awake when they're falling asleep, but when they look at their alarm clock, hours have passed. This begs the question: "Was I asleep?"

This phenomenon is known as sleep misperception. People with this feel like they haven't slept at all, but they are fine, and usually, the effects they have are due to their fear of insomnia. Also, sleep is more complex than you think. It can be a spectrum, and not just a black and white concept. If you're unsure if you're sleeping, go see a doctor. They can look at your sleeping patterns and determine whether or not you've been sleeping.

Is a Hypnic jerk a seizure?

The hypnic jerk, also known as a sleep start, is when your body has a sudden contraction, usually when you're falling asleep. Many people have experienced these on occasion, and they're usually nothing to worry about. They're not a seizure.

However, they can be annoying, especially as you're falling asleep. This can lead to some insomnia. Consuming less caffeine and winding yourself down before you sleep can decrease your chances of sleep starts, although many people will still experience them.

Why can't I get out of bed in the morning?

When you have a severely hard time getting out of bed in the morning, this is known as dysania. We're not talking about lying in bed for five minutes, but instead, over an hour.

There are many different reasons as to why you may be having a hard time getting up. You may have depression, which, as they say, makes it hard to get out of bed in the morning. You also may have a difficult time getting up due to a sleep disorder. Diabetes may cause you to lack energy, too. There are many reasons, and you may want to talk to a doctor if you're waking up tired.

Why am I still tired after sleeping?

If you wake up feeling tired despite sleeping well, it can be frustrating. There are many reasons why this may be the case, however. These include:

  • Not sleeping well all nights. If you're sleeping sporadically during the week, a full night's sleep on the weekend isn't going to reverse those effects, unfortunately.
  • You're sleeping too much. Oversleeping can make you feel tired, too.
  • You're getting up on the wrong part of your sleep cycle. If you wake up while you're in a deep sleep, you may feel less refreshed than you would if you woke up during a lighter sleep.
  • You're taking substances that can affect the quality of your sleep. For example, you drink too much alcohol.
  • You may have another health problem that is making you feel tired. Perhaps you should see a doctor if this keeps up.

How do you wake up feeling refreshed?

If you want to wake up feeling refreshed, but instead you're feeling tired, how can you do it? Besides getting a good night's sleep and talking to a doctor, here are some ways you can wake up and refresh yourself. These fatigue-fighting hacks to supercharge your mornings may help you refresh yourself.

  • A cup of coffee can be good, but don't go overboard. Have a cup or two, but don't chug the entire pot. You may end up feeling worse. Or, you may end up developing a tolerance to caffeine, which can make the effects of coffee nonexistent. A little goes a long way.
  • Enjoy the sun. Sunlight can help you to regulate your sleep cycle and help to wake you up. Go on a little morning walk.
  • Eat an energizing breakfast that's not too heavy on simple carbs. Avoid having sugars until at least lunchtime if you want to feel much better. Sometimes a change in your diet is all that you will need.
  • It sounds cheesy, but one of the best fatigue-fighting hacks to supercharge your mornings is to splash cold water on your face, or take a cold shower. This can jerk you awake.
  • Don't stay in bed for too long. Hitting that snooze button can make you feel much worse.
  • Wake up at the same time every day. Being inconsistent may destroy your circadian rhythm and make it harder for you to wake up.

These are just a few ways you can wake up feeling refreshed. Talk to your doctor if you feel groggy and feel tired. You may be able to fix that. These fatigue-fighting hacks to supercharge your mornings should help you wake up.

Why do I Feel Like I Just Woke up all Day?

On several occasions, you may feel curious about the way you incessantly feel fatigued throughout the day. There are different factors that may be responsible for these. Some of these common causes may include:

  • Sleep Inertia: Sleep inertia may affect you throughout the day as it may interfere with your cognitive skills or slows down your motor. This consequently may make you have a stressful day. Sleep inertia can become worse when other sleep-related disorders are in place. These may include obstructive sleep apnea, shift sleep disorder, and specific types of circadian rhythm sleep disorder. There is a possibility that you may experience sleep inertia symptoms when you:
  • don't have a good night sleep
  • abruptly wake up from a deep sleep
  • when your alarm wakes you up earlier than usual
  • Exposure to blue light: Blue light suppresses the secretion of melatonin that results in the inability to get a good sleep. Consequently, you will feel like you just woke up and also tired during the day.
  • Poor sleep environment: If you stay in an environment that affects your good-quality sleep during the night, it may have a serious effect on you all day. Things to consider may include mattress problems, loud noises.
  • Taking too much Caffeine: When you take caffeine close to bedtime, it will boost your alertness and make you stay late before you fall asleep which may make you tired during the day.
  • Intake of alcohol: Alcohol has a sedative effect that may inhibit getting deep sleep which consequently may affect your day after waking up tired.
  • Sleep disorders: You may need a sleep specialist or healthcare professional if you have sleep disorders. Sleep disorders need to be diagnosed and treated because they will incessantly affect your healthy sleep and make you feel tired during the day. Some common sleep disorders may include:
  • sleep movement disorders (conditions that lead to  movement before or during sleep)
  • Sleep apnea: Sleep apnea is one of the sleep disorders/sleep problems that make you stop breathing periodically when you're asleep. The symptoms of sleep apnea include snoring, gasping for air during sleep, feeling tired after a full night’s sleep, trouble staying asleep, waking with dry mouth, and morning headaches
  • Insomnia: Insomnia is one of the common sleep disorders that makes falling asleep difficult or wake you up too earlier and unable to sleep afterward. Insomnia may lead to difficulty concentrating, irritability, depression, and anxiety over not getting enough sleep.

Can't Fall Asleep Can't Wake Up?

Wonder why you can't sleep, can't stay asleep and can't wake up? This may be caused by a sleep disorder or sleep problem referred to as "insomnia". There are several symptoms of insomnia which include having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, experiencing unrefreshing/unrestful sleep, and waking too early.
Why Does it make me 2 Hours to Wake Up?

Sometimes you may see yourself waking up 2 hours after falling asleep. This may look inappropriate because you need enough time to sleep to enjoy tour walking life. The following may be responsible for the reasons it takes you just 2 hours to wake up after falling sleep:

  • You have medical conditions such as narcolepsy sleep or restless leg syndrome
  • You have sleep apnea—sleep apnea is one of the sleep disorders/ sleep problems that make you stop breathing periodically when you're asleep
  • You have regular insomnia
  • You are suffering from anxiety causing panic attacks or trouble relaxing after the day's work
  • You have indigestion
  • You have a stressful day
  • Your room is too hot or too cold
  • You need to urinate due to the intake of lots of water or because of an enlarged prostate.

Are 2 Hours of Sleep Better than None?

A two-hour sleep is far better than not sleeping at all. No matter how tight the situation can be, having two hours of sleep or less is the best choice to always make if you can sleep for the full cycle. But you must ensure that you get 7 to 8 hours of rest every night— to offer your body enough rest for the purpose of getting good health and wellness.

What Sleep Inertia Feels Like?

Sleep inertia is usually experienced after a sudden wake during slow-wave sleep. Sleep inertia makes you feel groggy,  after waking up. This is because you've not left your sleep state.
Can't Wake Up no Matter How Much Sleep I Get?

It's very confusing and actually seems inexplicable when you discover that you can't wake up no matter how much sleep you get. You should know that something is wrong somewhere if you tried to get at least 8 hours of sleep but still feel groggy or can't wake in the morning. The following are some of the causes:

  • You don't get good-quality sleep: There is a wide difference between quality and quantity. Sleeping is actually not all about how long you sleep — how well also matters. If you did have quality sleep, no matter how much sleep you get, you may still find it hard to wake.
  • You're not disturbed while sleeping: You may have a constant sleep routine which you've been used to such as waking up because of a poor sleep environment; however, if your sleep is not interrupted, you may tend to sleep more than you've thought.

What Does it Mean When you're Asleep but Feel Awake?

If you feel awake when you're asleep, it means you are experiencing sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis is when you are unable to move your body or speak while waking up or falling asleep. There are different things that happen during sleep paralysis, one of which includes feeling awake but unable to move your body, open your eyes, or speak. Sleep paralysis can be caused by sleep problems/sleep disorders or other types of disorders. These may include insomnia, narcolepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), general anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and a family history of sleep paralysis.

How Can I Fall Asleep in 10 Seconds?

Falling asleep in 10 seconds looks impossible, but if you know the right method to use, you will be amazed by how realizable of is. The method to sleep in 10 seconds is called the "the military method". It was first explained by Sharon Ackerman through his book “Relax and Win: Championship Performance”.  The military method contains the following steps:

  • Step1: Start by relaxing your face and the muscles inside your mouth
  • Step2: Release tension by dropping your shoulders and let your hands drop  to the side of your body
  • Step3: Exhale, relaxing your chest
  • Step4: Relax your legs, thighs, and calves
  • Step5: Clear your mind for 10 seconds by imagining a relaxing scene.

If you don't fall asleep in 10 seconds, you may want to try to say " don't think" repeatedly for 10 seconds. With this, you ought to sleep within 10 seconds.

Can Sleep Inertia Last all Day?

Sleep inertia is one of the sleep problems that usually don't last all day; however, if you find yourself experiencing a version of sleep inertia that lasts longer, then you have "prolonged sleep inertia".
Why Do I Take Forever to Wake Up?

There are different things responsible for you taking long to wake up in the morning. From research, it's shown that the main thing responsible is sleep Inertia of brain fog. When you wake up, your brain doesn't immediately leave the sleeping state. It's shown that brain before becoming fully awakened will go through a transition period which is referred to as sleep Inertia which may last for about 30 minutes. Progressively, the brain then switches from sleeping state to an awakened state including the cognitive and mental performance too.
How Long Does it Take for the Body to Fully Wake Up?

What you must understand is that your brain has much to do with how you wake up from your night of sleep. Of your brain get you into a deep sleep, it will take it some time to get you fully awakened. It may take up to 30 minutes to one hour for your body to start functioning at a high level.

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