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Why Do I Wake Up Tired?


Update 16.04.2024

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8 min

Why Do I Wake Up Tired?

Gosh, that alarm sounds like a hungry beast just begging to be snoozed. Five more minutes, right? But before you hit that snooze button again, let’s chat.

‘Why do I wake up tired?” You may be asking yourself this question every day but find it met with an echoing silence. It’s why you find yourself reading this article, which is the right choice. 

Sleep is supposed to be a source of energy, not grogginess. It’s okay to feel tired in the morning once in a while. But if it’s happening every day, maybe it’s time to analyze what’s making our brains feel like mushy potatoes instead of morning sunshine.

It can be any reason. Not enough sleep? Too hard mattress? Or maybe your cat kept jumping on you throughout the night?

Whatever the reason, waking up exhausted every morning isn’t fun. So, wanna team up and chase away that morning tiredness? Let’s do this!

Why do we need to sleep?

First things first, let’s talk about why sleep matters. Waking up tired and feeling exhausted in the morning is a common problem for many reasons. 

The way you feel when you’re awake is connected to what happens during your bedtime. While asleep, your body maintains your physical and mental well-being. It gives us energy and keeps us focused

Beyonce once said, “Having peace, happiness, and healthiness is my definition of beauty. And you can’t have any of that without sleep.”

Lack of sleep can lead to long-term health issues over time. It can mess with how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others.

It can also lead to low mood and depression, causing even more headaches and a vicious cycle of feeling tired after sleeping. Sometimes, people starting to ask, “Am I lazy or depressed?“, when start to sleep and wake up still tired.

Let’s learn more about the effects of sleep on your body:

  • Heart. When you’re in deep sleep, your heart rate and blood pressure go down, giving your heart time to rest. This is why waking up with no energy can be linked to insufficient sleep, potentially increasing the risk of heart problems.
  • Hormones. Generally, your body makes different hormones that affect how awake or sleepy you feel. In the morning, your body releases hormones like cortisol that help you wake up. Some of them follow a 24-hour pattern, which can change as you grow older.

Interested in learning more about yourself? Check out the Breeze app! Our app has mini-courses for diving deeper into the meaning of hormones, and their functions and even offers tips on boosting your “happy hormones.”

  • Brain. Sleep is a powerful tool for your brain. This makes it easier to learn new things and improve long-term memory. If you rest enough, it can be easy to focus and think clearly.
  • Immune system & breathing. During sleep, you breathe less. Not enough sleep can make it easier to get sick and worsen breathing problems in people with conditions like asthma, contributing to morning fatigue.
  • Metabolism. Your body deals with fat differently depending on the time of day. If you don’t get enough quality sleep, it can mess with your hunger hormones. It also makes it harder for your body to process insulin and makes you eat more.
  • As a result, it can lead to feeling weak in the morning. Thus, this cycle of poor sleep and disrupted metabolism can contribute to a general feeling of low well-being.

When counting sheep doesn’t help

Now, let’s switch to the reasons why you always wake up tired. There are as many as there are people on this Earth! Don’t fret, though; you won’t need a sleep lab and years of research. I’ve summarized the 7 most common causes behind feeling weak in the morning. 

Also, check out our Breeze “Why do I wake up tired” test to know which causes apply to you and get some valuable tips.

1.  Bad quality of sleep

Getting good sleep goes beyond just the number of hours you spend in bed. You may find yourself waking up tired even after 10 hours of sleep. 

So we are talking about quality sleep. Your brain has to go through different sleep stages. There are two main types: REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM sleep. Non-REM sleep has four stages.

You may ask how it works. Well, it starts in the first stage when you doze off, move into a lighter sleep in the second stage, and then hit deep, restorative sleep in the third and fourth stages. 

Most of these important stages happen in the first part of the night, showing how crucial early sleep time is for rest. These early stages help with memory, managing anxiety, and repairing your body, challenging the idea that only REM sleep, which happens later, matters.

Besides your bedtime routine, environmental factors can also affect your sleep quality. Things like being too cold, too much light, disruptive noises (sounds of traffic, loud neighbors, or even your peckish cat), and what you eat or drink before bed can all mess with your ability to fall asleep. 

Thus, paying attention to your surroundings and habits can make a big difference in the quality of your sleep.

2. Sleep inertia

Waking up tired with the feeling that you left your brain behind? Blame sleep inertia. It’s a groggy and disoriented feeling right after waking up. Typically, it lasts 15 to 60 minutes, and sometimes even a few hours. We don’t fully understand why it happens, but experts think it might be a protective mechanism to keep us asleep during unexpected wake-ups.

The symptoms of sleep inertia (like waking up exhausted, wanting more sleep, having trouble thinking clearly or paying attention, and struggling with memory) are strongest right after waking up and ease off as time passes. They can happen after a long sleep or naps longer than half an hour.

3. Blue light 

After a busy day, “revenge bedtime procrastination” might tempt you to scroll or watch TV instead of getting enough rest. But this backfires. It disrupts your sleep-wake cycle. Have you noticed how hard it is to fall asleep after a blue screen? How sleepy are you after waking up? I’ll explain why.

Phones, tablets, and TV suppress melatonin, the sleep hormone. “Even small amounts of light at night can affect the body because it alters the natural cycle of the dark at night and light during the day,” says Dr. Michael Breus, a psychologist and sleep medicine expert, in his article “How Blue Light Affects Sleep”. 

Thus, think twice before getting sucked into the TikTok black hole. It’s essential to recognize how your screen time steals bedtime. Your morning self will thank you for kicking the screen before bed!  

4. Bad sleep habits

Struggling to go to bed at the same time? Sometimes, it might be our ruts that are holding us back. Here are a few things that can make it harder to get a good night’s rest:

  • Not-so-perfect bed: Not many of us believe that a bed can impact our rest, but this is the main factor. An uncomfy mattress or pillow can make it hard to get cozy and feel relaxed. Finding what works for us can be a great investment in our sleep.
  • A cramped sleep space: A cold room, bright light, or loud noises can disrupt sleep. No wonder why you wake up tired. Making our bedroom a cozy haven for rest can make a big difference.
  • Skipping a bedtime routine: Going to bed and waking at different times every day makes our bodies confused and unsettled. Having a regular rhythm helps prepare us for sleep and for a new day.
  • Napping too long: A quick nap can be refreshing, but long ones can interfere with you feeling sleepy at night, which makes it likely that you’ll wake up pretty much sleepy in the morning.
  • Screen time before bed: Yes, hello again. It’s worth repeating that the blue light from phones and computers can easily prevent you from falling asleep.

5. Stimulating sips

That cup of afternoon coffee is more than just a wake-up call – it turns out caffeine can stick around, messing with your sleep long after you feel alert. 

But what about alcohol? I think we’ve all heard about alcohol’s sleepy reputation. It helps you to fall asleep faster, and it might seem that way at first.

But the research suggests it actually disrupts REM sleep, which is where the real restoration happens. So, even though it feels calming, it might not have a good effect on your sleep.

The same story applies to energy drinks. They have become increasingly popular. A study in the United States found that 33% of people aged 18 to 29 drink energy drinks regularly.

It’s harder to fall asleep when you are into energy drinks. F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to.” 

Caffeine, sugar, and guarana combos keep you alert, which is the opposite of what you want (yes, some rest). Also, it can leave you feeling anxious and restless, making it challenging to fall asleep. As a result, you feel weak in the morning.

And not the most fun part is that the effects can last for 6-8 hours, so even an energy drink in the afternoon can mess with your nighttime sleep.

6. Sleep disorders

While good sleep habits are key, sometimes morning fatigue can point to deeper issues like sleep disorders. Here are some common ones:

  • Sleep apnea: Waking up gasping for air or feeling choked throughout the night, leaving you exhausted despite sleeping for hours.
  • Insomnia: Tossing and turning for what feels like forever, your mind racing instead of drifting off, leading to chronic sleep deprivation and causing you to wake up tired and with no energy.
  • Restless Leg Syndrome: Unpleasant leg sensations and an urge to move them can disrupt your bedtime.
  • Bruxism: Waking up with a sore jaw or headaches from unconsciously clenching and grinding your teeth through the night.

If you suspect you have a sleep disorder, don’t hesitate to see a doctor. They can help you determine what’s going on and suggest the proper treatment to improve your sleep and daily energy levels.

7. Poor mental health

Not getting enough sleep can mess with your mind, and mental health issues can also disturb your sleep, thus causing fatigue the next morning. Research shows that about 40% of young adults with depression often feel very tired, a condition called hypersomnia. Anxiety and conditions like c-PTSD after childhood trauma can also mess up how well you sleep.

Feeling anxious and not sure how to stop it? Try Breeze! This is a safe place to track your thoughts and get some advice to improve your mental well-being. 

5 Hacks on how to not wake up tired

Ready to ditch morning fatigue and embrace energy-packed days? Let’s explore solutions and find some that align with your experience.

Good sleep hygiene

Good sleep habits make it easier to fall asleep, so you no longer wake up exhausted in the morning. Here is your action plan:

  • Stick to a regular sleep routine: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This helps your body’s natural sleep pattern.
  • Get enough sleep: Most adults need 7-9 hours per night. Keep naps under 20 minutes and avoid having them too late in the day to prevent disruption of nighttime sleep.
  • Have a relaxing bedtime routine: Wind down before bed with activities like reading or taking a warm bath. Avoid screens and bright lights.
  • Create a good sleep environment: Make your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool to help you sleep better. Use blackout curtains, earplugs, and an eye mask if needed. 
  • Watch what you eat and drink: Avoid caffeine, big meals, intense exercise, and alcohol close to bedtime.
A girl wakes up with morning fatigue.

Say “Yes” to sport 

Not moving enough can make you feel tired, but exercising regularly actually fights morning fatigue, boosts your energy, and helps you sleep better at night. 

With exercise, you wake up and feel refreshed. It might sound surprising that working out doesn’t make you more tired, but research shows it does the opposite. 

In order not to wake up tired in the morning, you need to exercise on most days of the week. But it’s not recommended to exercise before sleep. Studies say that working out within an hour of bedtime can disrupt sleep, making you feel weak in the morning.  

If you want to check for reasons why you wake up tired and get some tips on how to beat them, take our quiz and get your results right away.

Practice Meditations

Struggling to shake off morning fatigue? Start your day with a 10-minute meditation cocktail, and watch your stress fade and a positive vibe bubble up.

Meditation trains you to be a mindful observer of your thoughts, like watching clouds drift by without getting caught in the storm. Gradually, tension loosens, replaced by a calmer, more collected you. 

While it requires a lot of practice, trust me, it will change you for the better. Improved nighttime sleep and inner peace naturally follow as a bonus.

Meditation can be a great start, but you need a comprehensive toolbox for lasting mental health improvement. Imagine tracking your moods, managing your emotions, and getting therapist advice. 

There are also insightful courses, engaging games, and self-learning quizzes. That’s the power of Breeze. Take control of your well-being with Breeze and become a better you, starting today.

Note: If you’re still having trouble sleeping after trying these tips, see a doctor. There could be a medical issue affecting your sleep. Remember, be consistent and patient as you experiment with different tips to find what works best for you.

Final touch 

Feeling tired in the morning might seem like a never-ending cycle, but it’s not forever. With the right tools and a bit of determination, you can beat fatigue. 

It might not be easy, but every little step gets you closer to feeling lively and awake. Let’s use this tiredness as a way to make good things happen. 

Check out the tips ahead! Remember, a more energized “you” is just around the corner!

Joy Ismail, PhD, shares her opinion on why having enough sleep is essential: “Sleep is one of the most crucial factors for maintaining a healthy brain. Even short periods of sleep deprivation can have lasting negative effects on cognitive function, immune function (and therefore disease risk), productivity, and emotional reactivity. While requirements may vary slightly from person to person, getting at least seven hours of sleep a night can nourish your body and mind.”

Joy Ismail, PhD photo

Reviewed by Joy Ismail, PhD

Joy is a neuroscientist, researcher, scientific consultant, and science writer. She holds a PhD in Biomedical Sciences (Neuroscien...