How To Rid Yourself Of Morning Grogginess

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If you don’t have a hard time waking up in the morning, you probably know someone who does. They’re the person who hits the snooze button more than once and can’t really speak to you about anything significant until that first cup of coffee.

Experts attribute the feeling of this morning haziness to something called “sleep inertia.” According to the Mayo Clinic, sleep inertia may make a person “feel groggy and disoriented after waking up from a nap.”

Specialists at the Sleep Valley Center in Arizona say the root of sleep inertia stems from waking up during a specific sleep stage. “Sleep inertia is the result of sudden awakening during REM sleep.  When you wake up during REM, you still have high levels of melatonin, causing sleepiness. The longer you sleep, the higher level of melatonin is observed during REM stage.” The Sleep Valley Center suggests the feeling could last up to four hours.

A lingering state of sleepiness can be tough on people, especially those who are expected to be awake and productive first thing. That’s why we’ve put together our best advice and tips below to help you (or your friend, co-worker, teenager..) snap out of their morning grogginess.

[Editor’s Note: The information provided should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. Please consult a sleep doctor or other medical expert if you have questions related to your own health.]

Try waking up to a sleep cycle alarm clock

“There are several sleep stage alarm clocks that significantly simplify life for their owners,” says the Sleep Valley Center. “These alarm clocks are aware of your sleep patterns and by waking you during optimal stages of sleep, can greatly fend off sleep inertia and improve how you feel first thing in the morning.”

If you use your phone to wake you up, the Sleep Cycle alarm clock app is available for iPhone and Android. The app uses sound analysis to track your movements and determine your sleep cycle and sleep patterns. Then they’re able to wake you up during your lightest stage of sleep, the team behind the app says.

Related: How Your Sleep Cycle Works

Start a morning exercise routine

Get that heart rate pumping and make it a habit in the morning, say experts.

“Make working out in the morning a priority, says Suan Felber for Nokia Health. “The first few days or weeks may be tough, but eventually your body will become accustomed to waking up and going for a jog, or grabbing a mat and heading to a yoga class.  Whatever fitness routine you choose will provide a great kick-start to the day.”

“[Exercise] gets the blood flowing naturally,” registered dietitian and nutritionist Angela Lemond told Dallas News online. “Any exercise is great, but to really feel the benefits for several hours after, do some vigorous exercise that really gets the heart rate up for at least 30 minutes,” Lemond suggests going for a light jog, bike ride or morning kickboxing class.

Alena Ozerova/Shutterstock

Stop hitting the snooze button

If you’re exhausted when you wake up, it is super tempting to hit the snooze and drift off for a few more minutes. Health experts say you may be doing more harm than good.

“The folks at ASAP Science explain that while you might think that hitting snooze will give you a chance to finish your natural sleep cycle and wake up feeling rested, that’s not what happens,” says Alan Henry at Lifehacker. “After you hit snooze and drift off, your brain starts its sleep cycle all over again. When the alarm goes off a second time, you’re likely at an even deeper, earlier part of your sleep cycle, which results in you feeling even worse than you did the first time.”


Maintain your sleep schedule all week long.

You may be inclined to sleep in on the weekends in an effort to beat that morning haze but experts say deciding to wake up at the same time each day will actually help your body know when to wake up.

“Why does it matter to wake up at the same time every day? Think of your wake time as the anchor to your day. Our bodies follow a circadian rhythm and this relies on consistency,” says Dr. Brandon Peters a board-certified physician in an article for VeryWell. “There are many things that you do at about the same time every day, not the least of which is sleep. Anchoring your wake time in place is a cue… to your body about when you should be awake and when you should be asleep.”

Waking at the same time every day will actually help you to sleep better at night, says Peters.  A fixed wake time helps to build a strong desire for sleep throughout wakefulness.

[Editor’s Note: The information provided should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. Please consult a sleep doctor or other medical expert if you have questions related to your own health.]

Featured image: Akos Nagy/Shutterstock

Katie Golde

Katie Golde

Katie manages the day to day operations of the Mattress Clarity news site and reviews sleep products in addition to writing and editing sleep news. She hails from Austin, where she lives with her growing family. She is a Certified Sleep Science Coach and has a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University and has a background in health and science content. Her work can be found in print and online publications like Discover Magazine, USA Today and The Huffington Post.