Many people wake up groggy and tired in the morning, even after getting a solid 7-9 hours of sleep at night. If you are already going to bed and waking at a steady time, and you’ve taken steps to ensure you’re set for optimal sleep, why do you still wake up tired and lose energy as the day goes on? There may be an explanation, and the reason may be relates to something you haven’t thought about before. Many individuals wake up tossing and turning, but even those that don’t can still suffer from fatigue after a seemingly good night’s sleep. Environmental, health, and personal factors may come into play when considering the reason why.
Though tiredness and fatigue usually isn’t contributed to a major disease or disorder, it also can put your lifestyle on hold and your plans on the back-burner. Constant fatigue and tiredness can be linked to other major disorders though, so if you are concerned or show symptoms over a long period of time, make sure to consult with a physician. Besides poor sleep, stress, and a hectic lifestyle that includes poor diet and exercise, there can be other things to blame your fatigue on. If you’re missing out on quality sleep and deep REM cycles, you will definitely pay the following day.
You’re waking up in the middle of a REM cycle
A normal sleep cycle takes about 90 minutes from start to finish, and goes through four stages. Stage three and four are the deepest cycles, in which your body restores most of its energy and needs to face the day ahead. Stage four is the REM cycle stage, in which you dream and your body physiologically changes to allow for complete relaxation. When you’re in the middle of a deep sleep or a REM cycle and your alarm goes off, your body has to respond to come to an alert and aware state in the matter of a few seconds. This can already start the day off poorly, since your body wants to wake up naturally and at the end of a cycle rather than in the middle of one. Your body becomes paralyzed when you sleep in stage four to prevent you from acting out in any of your dreams. When your brain has to respond to external factors, your body is hesitant to follow, which is why you feel drowsy, tired, and probably pretty irritable in the morning when your alarm startles you.
Not only does your alarm cause this issue, you can be woken in the middle of a REM cycle by a sudden movement or noise, like a partner moving besides you or a dog jumping on the bed, or noises like a child crying. Timing your alarm to pinpoint when you will be coming out of a REM stage will benefit your clarity of mind in the morning. There are apps designed for smartphones that you can actually place on your bed beneath your pillow that can sense movement and predict when you are in your lightest stage of sleep. A smart alarm will then wake you within a half-hour or so window before your alarm to wake you without startling you out of a deep sleep, but will ensure your alarm goes off and you won’t be late.
Sleep apnea or breathing problems
Sleep apnea and other breathing problems normally go undiagnosed for quite some time because they are chalked up to snoring. Sure, to some extent it is normal to snore a bit since the muscles in the neck and throat relax and airflow may cause some vibration which results in snoring. However, snoring to the extent where you wake up choking, gasping for breath, or snore yourself awake should lead you to presume you should probably be checked for sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can cause oxygen deprivation, which will contribute to fatigue and tiredness the next day. Like exercise, depletion of oxygen in the body causes muscles to feel tired over a period of time. Your body uses oxygen for all of its processes, and when blood is poorly oxygenated because of your breathing problems, it isn’t a problem that is fixed easily. While snoring may be eased once you turn on to your side or stomach, sleep apnea can still affect its sufferers. If you have been told you snore loudly and relentlessly, being checked for sleep apnea through a sleep study should be added to your to-do list.
A high fat diet
A lot of saturated fat in your diet can cause your body to work overtime to metabolize what it can throughout the night. A high fat diet also doesn’t give your body the nutrients you need for your body to revitalize and restore worn down tissue. You also don’t get much energy from a high fat diet to begin with, so with food that you are already not going to get much of a boost from, you will also be putting your body a day or so behind in restoring its nutrients. High fat food includes most fast foods. So the next time you are considering grabbing a burger and fries for lunch, try to opt for a healthier option instead. Your body will be able to garner the nutrients that the meal provides more quickly, without using a lot of the energy you gain to digest the meal.
Though you might not even notice it to the extent that it alarms you, pain can disturb sleep by knocking you out of your deepest sleep cycles. When your body is alerted to pain, it prepares for fight or flight, sending adrenaline throughout your system. The surge in adrenaline, even while you are asleep, will fight to keep you in a lighter stage of sleep in order to prepare your body for more pain. The response to pain is normal to your body, but you might not even be aware that it’s occurring. Slight pain, like that of arthritis, menstrual cramps, a headache, or back pain can prevent your body from fully relaxing and entering those deep sleep cycles.