We’ve all had mornings where it’s difficult to pull ourselves out of bed for our morning awakening as the natural light pours in the window. For some, however, this issue is an everyday experience—which can be tough, since a good night's sleep is a crucial component of good health. This difficulty may be a sign of an underlying condition that needs to be addressed. Individuals who have difficulty waking up or who wake up tired, may be experiencing sleep inertia or sleep drunkenness. Knowing the cause of poor sleep quality is usually the first step toward getting better quality sleep so you can have better mornings.
Will I Ever Stop Feeling Like I Can’t Wake Up?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, sleep deprivation is a national issue. One in three adults in the U.S. report not getting enough sleep every day. If you’re used to waking up feeling sleepy or exhausted every morning, it can be hard to imagine a life in which you wake up feeling rested. However, it is possible to make changes that can turn your sleep patterns and habits around. Oftentimes, feeling like you can’t wake up in the mornings or hitting snooze repeatedly is due to some root cause you may not be aware of. It could be a physical health problem, a mental health condition, an issue with your internal body clock and circadian rhythms, or simply a result of certain habits or lifestyle choices. Once you discover the reason for your lack of quality sleep, you can take action to get the resources, support, and help you need to move forward.
Why Is Good Sleep So Important?
Sleep homeostasis is the process by which our body regulates our nighttime sleep patterns and wake up time. Broadly speaking, there are two types of sleep, rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement sleep. Non-rapid eye movement sleep is deep recovery sleep that removes sleep debt while REM sleep is a lighter sleep that happens as we hit snooze in the morning. Getting quality non-REM sleep can contribute to both physical and mental health. As a fact sheet from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute explains, consistently poor sleep has been linked to:
- Trouble learning, focusing, and reacting
- Difficulty interpreting the emotions and reactions of others
- Loss of productivity
- Increased risk of physical health problems including heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and obesity
- Increased risk of mental health disorders like depression
- Increased risk of accidents and injuries (falls, car crashes, etc.)
In other words, feeling like you can’t fully wake up in the mornings could only be one side effect of the type of sleep you’re getting. Over time, you may be at risk for additional problems if the issue persists.
Common Causes Of Sleep Issues
Here are a few of the most common.
One of the most common reasons a person may feel they can’t wake up is that they just don’t get quality sleep. This could be due to trouble falling asleep, waking up in the middle of the night, or experiencing restless sleep. Parents of infants often experience interrupted sleep, as the American Academy of Pediatrics points out that the nature of babies is to wake every 2-3 hours to eat throughout the night. Jet lag can cause a person to struggle to sleep as they adjust to a new time zone. Any of these sleep and wake cycle problems can cause a person to feel exhausted in the morning, resulting in trouble pulling themselves out of bed. According to the CDC, practicing good sleep hygiene for maximum rest and to lessen sleep inertia includes things like:
- Sleeping in a dark, quiet room
- Building a consistent sleep-wake schedule where you go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time every day
- Getting regular exercise during the day
- Avoiding screen time an hour or two before bed
- Avoiding alcohol and caffeine in the evenings
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. When you experience sleep paralysis, your body moves 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—which may or may not be real. Essentially, it’s a state in between sleep and wakefulness.
Sleep paralysis is not necessarily a sign of any mental health problem, and most people who experience it have no medical cause for these episodes, either. So even though it’s generally harmless, it can still be scary—which can interrupt your sleep even further. If you have frequent episodes of sleep paralysis, try taking a closer look at your habits. Alcohol, nicotine, sleep medicine, and other drugs may trigger or exacerbate it.
Sleep Phase Disorder
Having a sleep phase disorder means that your body may have trouble following the same sleeping and waking patterns that the majority of people follow. Delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS), for example, means that night owls with DSPS have the 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. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, DSPS is more common in teens and young adults, with 16% of that population experiencing the condition.
You can talk to a sleep professional about ways to mitigate this problem so you can function better during the day, since there are some experimental treatments available. That being said, for many people with DSPS, the most effective strategy may be to find a schedule that allows you to follow your natural sleeping and waking patterns.
Other Clinical Sleep Problems
50 to 70 million Americans have chronic health conditions that disrupt their sleep. Along with sleep paralysis and sleep phase disorder, there are several other sleep disorders or diagnosable health problems that may be interfering with your ability to get good sleep and feel rested in the morning. Narcolepsy, insomnia, shift-work sleep disorder, restless leg syndrome, and sleep apnea are all examples of these. The American Academy Of Sleep Medicine outlines diagnostic and treatment criteria for several of these health conditions on their website. If you suspect you may have a condition like this, speaking with a medical professional is usually a wise next step.
Certain mental health conditions like depression can also impact sleep and energy levels. Feeling like you are asleep on the inside while continuing to go through the motions of living could be a symptom of depression. This disorder can also make it hard to wake up and get out of bed in the morning—and even when you do, you might still have low energy, feel fatigued, or have trouble feeling true interest in activities you once enjoyed.
Finally, some medicine—including certain antidepressants—can impact your normal sleeping patterns. If you suspect this may be the cause of feeling like you can’t wake up in the morning, talk to your doctor or psychiatrist.
What To Do About Sleep Problems
There are a few things you can try at home to help improve your sleep. The American Academy of Sleep Problems suggests keeping a journal to track your sleep schedule. This helps you note information about your sleep patterns and identify activities that might be disrupting your sleep. You may also opt for a light snack before bed and stop drinking caffeine early in the afternoon.
If you’ve tried building healthier sleep habits but still feel like you can’t wake up in the morning or if you are experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness, it may be time to seek professional help. You can start by speaking with your doctor, who may decide to run some tests to rule out certain conditions or disorders. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine provides a directory of accredited professional and specialist sleep centers. You may also find it useful to speak with a mental health professional. If stress, rumination, anxiety, or depression are keeping you up at night, they may be able to help you sort through these issues. A trained therapist can provide you with a safe space to work through any emotions that may be troubling you, and they can also help you come up with strategies for managing stress or symptoms of a mental health disorder.
You can meet with a therapist in person or online. The choice comes down to your personal comfort level and availability options. If you’re interested in connecting with a mental health professional virtually, you can use an online therapy platform like BetterHelp. You’ll simply fill out a questionnaire about your needs and preferences, and you’ll be matched with a therapist who you can speak with via phone, video call, and/or online chat. Since research suggests that virtual therapy offers similar benefits to in-person treatment, you’ll have the opportunity to get the support you need and deserve this way. Continue reading for reviews of BetterHelp counselors.
“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.”
If you have trouble falling asleep, wake often during the night, or generally don’t feel rested, it’s worth looking into the cause of your sleep issues. Not feeling well-rested when you wake up can be frustrating and may require more than an afternoon nap to fix. It may also have far-reaching impacts on your life in both the short- and long-term. If you’re having trouble related to sleep, speaking with your doctor and/or a mental health professional may be helpful.
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 is poor.
- 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 or anxiety.
- You’re waking up tired due to another medical condition, which you should consult your doctor about.
This is not an exhaustive list, and you should not attempt to diagnose a health issue by yourself. If you’re unsure, talk to a doctor or a therapist. With treatment, you can work toward feeling refreshed and waking up 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 the quality of your sleep, are just a couple of ways that you can tackle sleep paralysis. With that said, sleep paralysis can happen to anyone.
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 for many other reasons as well. 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 consumed 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 refreshed when you wake up from sleep. It usually goes away on its own, but here are a few ways to increase your chances of recovering from it.
- Go outside and get some sunlight. Light can control 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 give you more energy. Make sure you set an alarm, so don’t oversleep.
- Get some caffeine in. Have a cup of coffee; this 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 waking 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 ejaculation during sleep. Sexsomnia may lead to you engaging in intercourse with your partner while you’re sleeping. 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 a 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 have, and usually, the effects they have are due to their fear of insomnia. Sleep is complex. 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 difficult 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 why you may be having a hard time getting up. You may have depression, which 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 at night. If you’re sleeping sporadically during the week, a full night’s sleep on the weekend isn’t going to reverse those effects. You must try to get enough sleep every single night.
- 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.
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.
- 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 maintain 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 throw off 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 tired. They may be able to help you fix that.
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 slow 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’s sleep, abruptly wake up from a deep sleep, or 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 can feel like you just woke up and also tired during the day.
- Poor sleep environment: If you stay in an environment that affects your quality of sleep during the night, it may have a serious effect on you all day. Things to consider may include mattress problems and loud noises.
- Taking too much caffeine: When you take caffeine close to bedtime, it can boost your alertness and make you stay up late, 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 can incessantly affect your sleep and make you feel tired during the day. Some common sleep disorders may includesleep movement disorders (conditions that lead tomovement before or during sleep), sleep apnea, and insomnia.
- Sleep apnea: Sleep apnea is one of the sleep disorders 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 a dry mouth, and morning headaches.
- Insomnia: Insomnia is one of the common sleep disorders that makes falling asleep difficult. It may cause you to wake up too earlyor be 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 take me two hours to wake up?
The following may be responsible for the reason it takes you two hours to wake up after falling asleep:
- You have a medical conditionsuch as narcolepsyor restless leg syndrome
- You have sleep apnea—sleep apnea makes you stop breathing periodically when you’re asleep
- You have insomnia
- You are experiencing anxiety, causing you to have panic attacks or trouble relaxing after a long day’s work
- You have indigestion
- You’ve had a stressful day
- Your room is too hot or too cold
- You must urinate frequently due to the intake of lots of water or an enlarged prostate.
Are two hours of sleep better than none?
A two-hour period of rest is far better than not sleeping at all. Still, try to ensure that you get 7 to 8 hours of rest every night to offer your body enough rest for your health and wellness.
What does Sleep Inertia feellike?
Sleep inertia is usually experienced after a sudden wake during slow-wave sleep. Sleep inertia makes you feel groggyafter waking up. This is because you haven’t left your sleep state.
Can’t wake up no matter how much sleep I get?
It can be confusing when you can’t wake up no matter how much sleep you get. The following could be some of the causes:
- You don’t get quality sleep: There is a difference between quality and quantity. Sleep quality is less about long you sleep and more about how well. If you did not have quality sleep, no matter how much sleep you get, you may still find it hard to wake up.
- You’re not disturbed while sleeping: You may have a constant sleep routine that you’ve been used to, such as waking up because of a poor sleep environment; however, if your sleep is no longer interrupted, you may tend to sleep more than before.
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 sounds impossible, but if you know the right method to use, you can try it. 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 letting 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.
Can Sleep Inertia last all day?
Sleep inertia is one of the sleep problems that usually doesn’t last all day; however, if you find yourself experiencing a version of sleep inertia that lasts longer, then you may have “prolonged sleep inertia.”
Why do I take forever to wake up?
There are different things that could be responsible for you taking longer to wake up in the morning. Research shows that the main thing responsible is sleep inertia or brain fog. When you wake up, your brain doesn’t immediately leave the sleeping state. Before becoming fully awakened, the brain goes through a transition period called sleep inertia, which may last for about 30 minutes. Progressively, the brain then switches from sleeping to an awakened state, including increased cognitive and mental performance.
How long does it take for the body to fully wake up?
Your brain has a lot to do with how you wake up from your night of sleep. If your brain getsinto a deep sleep, it can take more time to become 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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