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

By Sarah Cocchimiglio|Updated July 18, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Aaron Horn, LMFT

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.

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

Feeling Exhausted Can Impact Your Mental Health - Learn How To Deal With It

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.

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.

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

Wake Me Up Inside

Feeling Exhausted Can Impact Your Mental Health - Learn How To Deal With It

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.

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