It’s a familiar scenario, especially in the dog days of summer. You’ve had your seven to nine hours of recommended sleep, but you wake up groggier than you went to bed. Experts say there are several reasons why you are waking up tired, and simple lifestyle changes can often correct the vicious cycle of sleepiness.
1. Sleep inertia. According to Prevention, this is the technical term for typical morning grogginess. Blood flow to the brain is slower for 30 minutes upon waking up. That sleepy sensation can last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour for most people, although some experience longer periods of sleep inertia.
2. Exposure to blue light. Your screen time impacts your sleep says Robin Tucker, associate professor of food science and nutrition at Michigan State University who studies the interaction of nutrition and sleep. “Using computers, tablets, cell phones, and TV’s too close to bedtime can inhibit melatonin release and delay sleep onset, so it’s best to shut them down an hour before bed to avoid extra exposure,” adds Dr. Peter Polos, a fellow of the American Academy of Sleep. We sleep best in a dark, cool room with a temperature of between 67 to 69 degrees, so if you are falling asleep with the TV on, you are robbing yourself of quality sleep.
3. Poor sleep hygiene. Making small tweaks to your bedroom can boost tranquil sleep. Having a comfortable mattress and bed linens can enhance the experience, says Polos, who recommends the Sleep Number 360 mattress that lets you adjust the comfort and firmness on each side of the bed and has a circadian rhythm feature that helps you understand your own sleep rhythms.
4. Drinking too much caffeine and alcohol. Tucker points out that caffeine is a stimulant and even the afternoon pick-me-up cup of coffee can affect your sleep. “Some people metabolize caffeine more slowly than others,” she says. And Polos says that alcohol is a depressant that can disrupt the REM stages of sleep. Avoid alcohol four hours before bedtime.
5. Sleep disorders. Sleep disorders like insomnia and sleep apnea can interfere with sleep and prevent you from waking up refreshed, says Tucker. The disruptive nighttime awakenings caused by sleep apnea repetitively closing the airways takes its toll on sleep quality. Seek professional help to treat or correct these conditions.
6. Genetics. According to Prevention, some people are genetically programmed to be night owls or early birds. Polos says these tendencies are genetically predetermined and while they can be modified to some degree, “one cannot be replaced by the other.”
To help you get a better night’s sleep, check these 10 tips from The National Sleep Foundation.
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