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Uncovering the Causes of Waking Up Tired: Why Do I Wake Up Tired?

Hayley Dawes
13 October 2023

Dreem Distillery is your go-to product collection to support sleep, rest and recovery. We believe building in moments of down time and adequate rest into your routine helps to support improved energy levels and leaves you feeling more productive and able to handle the stresses of life.

Do you often wake up feeling tired and groggy, despite getting a full night’s sleep? You’re not alone - many people struggle with morning fatigue and wonder, “why do I wake up tired?” But what if we told you that there are ways to uncover the causes behind this morning tiredness and improve your energy levels throughout the day? In this blog post, we’ll delve into the mysteries of sleep inertia, sleep disorders, sleep hygiene, and lifestyle factors that may be affecting your morning energy levels, and reveal how to tackle them head-on for a more refreshed start to your day.

Short Summary

  • Overcome sleep inertia with strategies such as sunlight exposure, exercise and a consistent sleep schedule.
  • Identify potential signs of insomnia or other sleeping disorders to improve your well-being & reduce morning tiredness.
  • Create healthy habits like exercising regularly, eating balanced meals & managing stress for energized mornings!

Understanding Sleep Inertia

Sleep inertia is a fascinating phenomenon that can leave you feeling groggy and disoriented upon waking. It can last up to two hours, making you experience waking up tired even after a full night’s deep sleep, including periods of light sleep.

But what exactly is sleep inertia, and how can we overcome it?

What is Sleep Inertia?

Sleep inertia occurs due to the build-up of adenosine in your brain over the course of your waking hours, which dissipates during your sleep. This groggy feeling can generally dissipate within 15 to 60 minutes of waking, although for some, it can last beyond that. The performance impairment from sleep inertia is comparable to, or even more severe than, the effects of 40 hours of sleep deprivation.

Understanding sleep inertia and its causes is crucial in finding ways to reduce its impact on your morning energy levels.

Causes of Sleep Inertia

Several factors can contribute to sleep inertia, including:

  • Higher levels of delta waves in the brain
  • Sudden or abrupt awakening from sleep
  • High levels of adenosine upon awakening
  • Not getting enough sleep

Additionally, poor sleep hygiene and sleep disorders could be contributing to your sleep inertia.

By identifying these factors, we can begin to address the causes of sleep inertia and work towards a more energized morning.

Overcoming Sleep Inertia

There are several strategies to help reduce sleep inertia and make your mornings more enjoyable. Exposure to natural sunlight, exercise, and sticking to a consistent sleep schedule are all great ways to reduce sleep inertia.

Sunlight exposure in the morning can help energize you and optimize your natural sleep cycle, leading to improved alertness and less sleep inertia. By implementing these strategies, you can start your day feeling refreshed and ready to tackle whatever challenges come your way.

Identifying Sleep Disorders

While sleep inertia is a common and normal phenomenon, there are other factors that could be causing your morning tiredness. Some possible causes include:

  • Sleep disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless legs syndrome
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Lack of regular sleep schedule
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Poor diet and lack of exercise

If you consistently feel tired in the morning, it may be worth exploring these potential causes and seeking professional help if needed.

It’s essential to recognize the signs and symptoms of these sleep disorders, as they can have a significant impact on your overall well-being.


Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that affects an astonishing 70 million Americans. It is characterized by difficulty falling or staying asleep, resulting in fatigue the next morning. Insomnia can be classified as primary or secondary, with primary insomnia caused by factors such as stress or alterations in sleep schedule, and secondary insomnia often associated with mental health issues, other sleep disorders, illnesses, and pain.

Being aware of irritability, anxiety, depression, and difficulty concentrating as indicators of insomnia can help you identify and address this sleep disorder.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is another disorder that can interfere with your sleep quality and make you feel tired in the morning. It occurs when your breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. The key indicators of sleep apnea include loud snoring and feeling tired during the day.

If you or your sleep partner notice symptoms such as snoring, gasping for breath during sleep, or waking up with a dry mouth, it’s essential to consult a medical professional for further evaluation and treatment.

Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a condition that causes an overwhelming desire to move the legs, often accompanied by uncomfortable sensations such as:

  • crawling
  • tingling
  • burning
  • itching
  • throbbing
  • aching

RLS can disrupt your sleep and leave you feeling tired and sluggish during the day.

Identifying the symptoms of restless legs syndrome and seeking appropriate treatment can help improve your sleep quality and reduce morning tiredness.

The Importance of Sleep Hygiene

In addition to addressing sleep inertia and sleep disorders, maintaining good sleep hygiene is crucial for achieving quality sleep and feeling refreshed in the morning. Sleep hygiene refers to the habits and practices that promote restful and restorative sleep, which can help improve your overall well-being, morning energy levels, and motor and cognitive skills.

Good sleep hygiene is essential for ensuring a good night’s sleep, which includes avoiding caffeine and alcohol late in the day, avoiding screens before bed, and ensuring a full night’s sleep.

Creating a Comfortable Sleep Environment

A comfortable sleep environment plays a significant role in ensuring restful sleep. Factors such as room temperature, noise levels, and bedding can greatly impact your sleep quality. The ideal room temperature for a peaceful sleep environment is between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit, and a noise level between 40-45 decibels is most conducive to restful sleep.

Additionally, using breathable, natural fabrics like cotton or linen for your bedding can help you get a restful night’s sleep.

Establishing a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is another essential aspect of good sleep hygiene. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day can help regulate your body’s internal clock, improving your sleep quality and morning alertness. This consistency is crucial for maintaining a healthy sleep wake cycle.

By establishing a consistent sleep schedule, you can reduce the likelihood of sleep inertia and sleep disorders, ensuring you wake up feeling energized and ready to face the day.

Limiting Screen Time Before Bed

Lastly, reducing screen time before bed can significantly improve your sleep quality and reduce morning tiredness. Blue light emitted from screens like phones, laptops, and TVs can suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep. By limiting screen time before bed, you can prevent melatonin suppression, promote better sleep, and wake up feeling more refreshed.

Getting enough sleep is essential for overall health and wellbeing. Not only does it help you feel better, it also makes you feel better.

Lifestyle Factors Affecting Morning Energy Levels

Apart from sleep hygiene, there are several lifestyle factors that can impact your sleep quality and morning energy levels. Exercise, diet, and stress management are all essential components of a healthy lifestyle that can positively influence your sleep and help you wake up feeling more refreshed.

Exercise and Sleep Quality

Regular exercise can improve your sleep quality and reduce fatigue. Exercising during the day can help you experience better quality sleep at night. However, it’s important to avoid intense exercise within an hour of bedtime, as it can interfere with your ability to fall asleep.

By incorporating regular exercise into your daily routine, you can improve your sleep quality and wake up feeling more energized.

Diet and Sleep

A balanced diet can also positively impact your sleep quality and morning energy levels. Consuming a diet rich in complex carbohydrates and fruits can help increase your alertness and improve your sleep quality.

Additionally, eating nutritious foods like proteins, whole grains, nuts, and lower-sugar fruits for breakfast can give you the energy boost you need to tackle the day.

Stress and Sleep

Managing stress is another essential factor in improving sleep quality and reducing morning tiredness. Stress can lead to difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up feeling exhausted.

By incorporating relaxation techniques and self-care practices, you can better manage stress, improve your sleep quality, and reduce morning tiredness.

When to Seek Medical Help

While practicing good sleep hygiene and making lifestyle changes can significantly improve your sleep quality and morning energy levels, there may be instances when it’s necessary to consult a medical professional. Persistent morning fatigue or the presence of additional symptoms may indicate an underlying health condition that requires medical attention.

If you are experiencing persistent morning fatigue or other symptoms, it is important to speak to your doctor.

Recognizing Chronic Fatigue

Chronic fatigue is an energy-draining condition that can be debilitating and requires medical attention. It is characterized by extreme tiredness that does not improve with sleep and may affect your ability to function throughout the day.

If you suspect you may have chronic fatigue, it’s essential to seek medical help to identify the cause and create a plan to help you manage it.

Addressing Underlying Health Conditions

Health conditions such as anemia, hypothyroidism, and diabetes can cause morning tiredness and should be addressed by a medical professional.

Anemia is caused by insufficient iron levels in the blood and can result in:

  • constant fatigue
  • cold hands and feet
  • shortness of breath
  • pale skin
  • weakness

Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland produces fewer thyroid hormones than what is typically required, leading to excessive tiredness in the morning and throughout the day. By seeking medical help and addressing these underlying health conditions, you can improve your sleep quality and morning energy levels.

Consulting with a Sleep Specialist

If sleep hygiene and lifestyle changes do not improve your morning fatigue, it may be necessary to consult with a sleep specialist for further evaluation and treatment. A sleep specialist can provide guidance and support, offer expert advice, and help you develop a consolidated plan to improve your sleep quality and morning energy levels.

By seeking the help of a sleep specialist, you can ensure that you’re feeling your best and ready to tackle each day with renewed energy.


In conclusion, waking up tired can be attributed to various factors such as sleep inertia, sleep disorders, poor sleep hygiene, and lifestyle factors. By understanding these factors and making necessary changes in your daily routine, you can improve your sleep quality and morning energy levels. Remember, it’s essential to seek medical help if you suspect an underlying health condition or if your morning fatigue persists despite making lifestyle changes.

Take control of your mornings and reclaim your energy by addressing sleep inertia, sleep disorders, and implementing good sleep hygiene practices. Don’t let morning fatigue hold you back from achieving your full potential. Wake up refreshed and ready to conquer the day!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I feel exhausted when I wake up?

You’re likely experiencing sleep inertia, or being out of sync with your circadian rhythm, which is why you feel exhausted when waking up.

Sleep debt, a sleep disorder, or an underlying medical condition might also be the cause.

How do I stop waking up tired?

Maintain your circadian rhythm by setting a consistent sleep schedule and avoiding late-night eating. Get up at the same time every morning, even on weekends, to beat the midmorning slump and wake up feeling more refreshed.

Why am I so tired when I wake up after 8 hours of sleep?

It could be due to poor sleep quality, lifestyle factors such as stress, poor diet, lack of exercise, or an underlying health condition. It may also indicate that you need more than eight hours of sleep, less sleep than you think, have a sleep debt to pay back, or are out of sync with your circadian rhythm.

If you’re concerned, talk to your primary care provider.

What is sleep inertia and how can I overcome it?

Sleep inertia is a feeling of grogginess experienced after waking up, which can last up to two hours. To reduce it, try getting exposure to natural sunlight, exercising, and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule.

How can I recognize common sleep disorders like insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless legs syndrome?

Pay attention to common signs and symptoms of sleep disorders such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, loud snoring and daytime tiredness, and an irresistible urge to move the legs, so you can recognize common sleep disorders like insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless legs syndrome.

Recognizing these signs and symptoms can help you identify a potential sleep disorder and seek treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment can help you get the restful sleep you need to stay healthy and alert.

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