Nothing is worse than getting in bed early, only to wake up still feeling exhausted. How long we sleep is important for well-rested we feel, but there a number of other factors that can affect how tired you feel in the morning, and you may be picking up on some habits that are zapping your energy. Getting to bed before midnight might seem good enough, but you also need to pay attention to your everyday habits that can affect your energy levels when you rise.
"Unfortunately, the importance of sleep is often under-appreciated and the consequences are commonly unrecognized," says sleep expert Dr. Lee-Chiong over email. "Getting adequate sleep every night might be a tall order, especially with long work days and active lifestyles often taking priority. Creating a healthy sleep regimen starts with recognizing that insufficient sleep is a problem and identifying a path towards a solution."
If you keep waking up exhausted, you might want to take a look at your sleep rituals and make some much needed changes – after all, no one can rely on coffee forever. Here are 11 reasons why you might be waking up tired in the morning and how you can fix it.
1. You're Pressing Snooze
You would think that hitting the snooze button would make you feel less tired since you are getting more sleep, but it actually does the opposite. When you fall back asleep for such a short amount of time, your alarm wakes you up on the wrong sleep cycle, which can leave you feeling more tired than you began. Try to set your alarm for the exact time you need to wake up, or get a sleeping app that can help wake you up on the right cycle.
2. You're Watching Netflix Before Bed
"Electronics stimulate the mind and keep us awake," says Nikki Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC over email. "We watch TV, we read articles, or play games on our phone thinking that we are going to do this until we sleep. However, we are actually keeping ourselves awake." The light from these electronics can disrupt your body's level of the hormone melatonin, which is responsible for controlling our sleep cycles, according to WebMD. Put the computer away and consider another bedtime activity, like reading.
3. You Don't Let Light In When You Wake Up
Although it's good to sleep in the dark, you'll want to open those curtains up in the morning. Letting in light helps to regulate your body's natural circadian rythyms, which can have you feeling more awake and energetic, according to the UCLA Sleep Center.
4. You're Drinking Caffeine In The Afternoon
"While many of us need our coffee to make it through the day, it is proven that drinking caffeine after 2 p.m. in the afternoon can impact our sleep," says Martinez. Even if you're not tossing and turning trying to fall asleep, caffeine can diminish your sleep quality and quantity, according to research from Michigan’s Henry Ford Hospital’s Sleep Disorders & Research Center and Wayne State College of Medicine. "We can indulge in our daily tea or coffee, just make sure to stop by 2 p.m., so that it is completely out of your system in time for bed," says Martinez.
5. You Go To Bed At Different Times Each Night
"You should go to sleep and wake up at the same time seven days per week," says Martinez. "This helps to train your body, and teaches it what hours you should be tired and resting. Getting yourself on a schedule helps to promote more consistent sleep."
6. You Spend Too Much Time In Your Bedroom
"Train your mind to think the bedroom is only for sleep and sex," says Martinez. "We have to be certain to fight the instinct to do other activities in order to relax and clear our mind and encourage ourselves to drift off to sleep." Associating your bed with just sleep can help train yourself to relax for a more restful slumber.
7. You're Drinking Before Bed
"While many people falsely think a few drinks before bed relaxes them and helps them sleep, it actually does the opposite," says Martinez. "While it might initially help the person pass out or drift off to sleep, they will actually toss and turn and be restless all night. The best thing to do is stop drinking any alcohol several hours before you go to bed."
8. You Sleep With Your Pets
"Many people sleep with their pets," says sleep coach Amy Korn-Reavis, MBA, RRT, RPSGT over email. "They, just like children can disrupt your sleep as they have different sleep patterns than humans. Your cat may think you are awake when you change positions and expect to be petted. This will disrupt the flow of sleep and could rob you of sleep time that you are unaware of."
9. You Eat Right Before Bed
"Put the fork down two to three hours before bed," says psychotherapist Emily Roberts over email. "The digestive process takes time, and even though a big scoop of ice cream may make you feel full and tired, your body is activated. Aim to eat every three to four hours during the day so you don't feel the urge to stuff yourself at night. This will help you sleep soundly; hunger pains or stomach aches both interrupt your sleep cycle."
10. Your Room Isn't Comfortable
"There are certain conditions that make for a more restful sleep," says clinical psychologist and sleep specialist Dr. Yelena Chernyak, PhD, over email. "It if is too hot, loud, or bright in sleep environment you body may not go into as restful of a sleep as it otherwise would." Keep your room dark at night, and keep the temperature between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
11. You're Stressed
"Maybe there is something emotionally or psychologically unresolved in your life," says therapist Dawn Wiggins over email. "This could be a job you don’t like, a difficult relationship, or generally being unsatisfied with something in your life." Stress and anxiety can not only cause problems sleeping, but it can also cause fatigue, according to the Calm Clinic. Try meditating before bed or doing some relaxing yoga poses.
If you practice good sleep hygiene and still feel exhausted every morning, it's best to speak with your doctors. "Sleep apnea or another underlying health concern could be to blame for your sleeplessness," says Lee-Chiong. "Your doctor can help you figure out the next best steps forward."
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