Nothing is worse than waking up in the morning feeling out of it and sleepy when you thought you got a decent night's rest. If you logged in enough hours, you should feel well rested, right? Unfortunately, there are a number of reasons you feel groggy in the morning, some of which you may not even be aware of. Your quality of sleep matters just as much as your quantity, and some of your nighttime habits may be setting you up for a lethargic morning.
"People feel groggy in the morning essentially because they are sleep deprived," Dr. David Weissman, M.D., a primary care physician who sees patients via telehealth app LiveHealth Online, tells Bustle. "More specifically, grogginess, or what doctors call sleep inertia, is the feeling of incomplete awakening due to sudden awakening during REM sleep. REM stands for rapid eye movement, and is one of four stages of sleep and is the one associated with dreaming. If you are suddenly woken up in the middle of REM sleep, it leads to sleep inertia which can last from 15 minutes to about four hours. During this groggy period of sleep inertia, you have a reduced capacity for doing even simple activities."
Making sure you get enough good quality sleep, as well as avoiding waking up in the middle of your REM cycle, can help get rid of that morning fog. Here are seven surprising reasons you might feel groggy in the morning, according to experts.
1. You Had A Drink Before Bed
Many people enjoy having a cocktail or a glass of wine to help them fall asleep, but although alcohol may help people fall asleep initially, it actually leads to a disruption in your sleep cycles. "Specifically, it leads to less time spent in REM sleep and actually leads to a move from a deeper sleep to a lighter sleep during the second half of the night," Dr. Weisman says. "Overall, the effect is that while a person may still sleep for eight hours, they won’t feel as well rested as someone who had the same amount of sleep without the alcohol beforehand."
2. You Took Medication
Medications like over-the-counter sleep meds or antihistamines can leave you feeling out of it the next morning. "Like alcohol, these medications can make people feel drowsy and even help them fall asleep more easily," Dr. Weisman says. "But also like alcohol, they interfere with the normal sleep cycle and often leave people feeling groggy in the morning."
3. Your Bedroom Is Too Light
If your bedroom isn't dark enough, it could affect how well-rested you feel in the morning. "The lightness in the room, even with the eyes closed, affects the body’s internal clock," Dr. Weisman says. "If there is too much light, it may prevent you from spending as much time in REM sleep."
4. You Watched TV Before Bed
Even if you're an avid TV watcher, you may want to reconsider watching before bed if you feel tired in the morning. "This also applies to falling asleep with the TV or computer on, since the light from most LCD screens is much more than what we should have in our rooms while sleeping," Dr. Weisman says. You might like binge watching your favorite show before bed, but the light can be disruptive and have effects that last into the morning.
5. You Had Caffeine In The Afternoon
Most people know not to have coffee too close to bedtime, but even having caffeine in the afternoon can disrupt your whole sleep cycle. "The problem is that caffeine can stay in the body for up to 12 hours after consuming it," Dr. Weisman says. "So, try to avoid caffeinated beverages after noon."
6. You Worked Out At Night
You should be proud to get a workout in any time of day, but if you're exercising too close to bedtime, it can mess with sleep. "Exercise at night tends to energize you just as you should be winding down for sleep," Dr. Weissman says. "Although people think exercising may make them tired before going to sleep, it tends to keep people up later at night and ultimately contributes to sleep deprivation."
7. You Have Sleep Apnea
If you're doing all the right things and still not feeling alert in the morning, it could be sleep apnea. "This is a medical condition in which your airway is actually partially obstructed by your tongue falling back in your mouth and preventing air from getting into your lungs," Dr. Weissman says. "It often leads to snoring and ultimately periods of apnea, or pauses in breathing, caused by the obstructed airway. The problem is that every time this occurs, you are being pulled out of deep sleep and into a much lighter form of sleep." Because of this, REM sleep can be severely disrupted, which can lead to sleepiness throughout the day.
Grogginess can be avoided with proper sleep hygiene and good rest, so try to get the best quality sleep possible for an energetic and alert morning.