Here's Why You Might Be Waking Up Tired

Frustrated, tired woman holding her pillow over her face in bed

We’ve all had those mornings. Some days, no matter how much sleep you’ve gotten, you can’t help but to feel sluggish. Waking up tired after 8 hours of sleep can be frustrating, to say the least.
 
Many of us classify morning grogginess under the “I’m just not a morning person” umbrella and resign ourselves to the fact that we’ll always be waking up tired. But it might actually be the result of something we have a little more control over: sleep hygiene and lifestyle.
 
Not everyone can leap out of bed and seize the day right when that alarm goes off in the morning. But if it's a struggle to drag yourself from under the covers on a regular basis, consider the reasons you could be waking up tired.

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

Well rested woman sitting up and drinking coffee in bedWell rested woman sitting up and drinking coffee in bed

We rely on sleep to restore our physical and mental health. But exactly how much sleep does that require? Daily sleep needs can vary from person to person, but it is generally recommended that adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. So, it’s a red flag if you’re frequently waking up tired after 8 hours of sleep.

Your personal level of physical activity and overall health factor in as well. You might find that you can function normally with just 6 hours of sleep, while others prefer a full 10 hours. The best way to know how much sleep you need is to be in tune with your body and mindful of when you feel well rested and what well rested means to you.

Potential Causes of Waking Up Tired

So, what does it mean if you’re getting your recommended amount of sleep, but still groggy in the morning? It could be poor sleep hygiene (i.e., your daily sleep-conducive habits and environment). Or, it could be something more biological. Consider these potential causes of waking up tired.

Sleep Inertia 

Very groggy woman sitting up in bedVery groggy woman sitting up in bed

We all know the feeling of waking up groggy. That heaviness you may feel right after you wake actually has a name: sleep inertia. Morning sleep inertia is a natural part of your transition from sleep to wakefulness.

Sleep inertia usually doesn’t last very long, and there are some simple ways to fight it, such as:

  • Drinking a morning cup of coffee or tea
  • Honing your circadian rhythm by spending time in the sunshine
  • Paying off any sleep debt 
  • Exercising in the morning
  • Changing up your alarm

We’re all susceptible to sleep inertia – it’s a party of the sleep cycle! However, some people may experience a lasting version called prolonged sleep inertia. If you experience this and nothing seems to help, it may be worth a conversation with your doctor.

Dehydration

Young professional woman drinking water to stay hydrated at workYoung professional woman drinking water to stay hydrated at work

Hydration and sleep have a synergistic relationship, meaning that they go hand in hand. Dehydration can lead to insomnia, and sleep deprivation can increase your chance of being dehydrated. This is why mastering your daily water intake is part of forming good sleep hygiene.

Some symptoms of dehydration include exhaustion, lethargy or fatigue. Other times, dehydration can make sleep difficult because the associated symptoms cause discomfort, such as:

  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Muscle cramps

On the other hand, with too much hydration you may find yourself waking up throughout the night to visit the bathroom. Like everything in life, balance is key. Finding your ideal fluid intake can improve your health and contribute to better sleep.

Too Much Screen Time

Young woman scrolling through her phone in bedYoung woman scrolling through her phone in bed

You’ve probably heard this one before. Too much screen time is a notorious factor in poor sleep hygiene. There are three main reasons that this happens:

  • The psychological stimulation from screen time leads to physiological arousal
  • Exposure to light suppresses the body’s production of melatonin
  • Studies suggest that the blue light emitted from digital devices is particularly disruptive

In teens and children, there is often behavioral delay of sleep in favor of more screen time. A later bedtime results in less sleep overall when school starts early the next morning. Over time, consistently late weekday bedtimes and catch-up sleep on the weekend disrupt the circadian rhythm – which means waking up tired, no matter how much sleep you get. 

Clinking red wine glassesClinking red wine glasses

Diet

We’re definitely guilty of this one: too much caffeine.  Coffee, tea, chocolate and certain soft drinks all contain this natural stimulant that can make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Contrary to popular belief, alcohol is another drug that can keep you up at night. Although it is known to induce drowsiness, alcohol consumption causes you to wake up more frequently during the night. This prevents you from getting deep, restorative sleep and might be the reason you’re waking up tired. Learn about foods that help promote quality sleep here.

Mental Health Concerns 

Tell someone that you’ve been having trouble sleeping or are constantly waking up tired, and they’ll probably ask, “Is there something troubling you?” Mental health concerns like anxiety and depression can exacerbate sleeping problems. 

Excessive worrying makes it hard to fall asleep at night, and it can turn brief, natural wakings into hours of your mind racing with worry. This is called sleep fragmentation – frequent and prolonged interruptions in your sleep cycle – and it can lead to less quantity and quality of sleep. Both of these result in waking up tired.

Conversely, sleep deprivation can worsen anxiety and leave you stuck in a cycle of losing sleep over anxiety and feeling anxious over losing sleep. If your mental health is affecting your sleep, don’t be afraid to seek out help – be it that of a friend, family member or health professional. You may also find some relief, in the sleep department at least, by trying these meditation exercises for better sleep

Is Your Mattress to Blame for Waking Up Tired?

A major component of sleep hygiene is your sleep environment, which includes everything from lighting to room temperature to white or pink noise and more. Of course, your mattress is especially important here and an old or uncomfortable mattress is a common cause of waking up tired.

Selecting the proper mattress firmness for your needs is one way to ensure higher quality sleep. And it’s totally subjective! You might prefer a firm mattress where others prefer a cushy mattress. You might prefer a cushy mattress now, but look for something firmer when you’re older. What feels firm to you might feel soft to others. 

Smiling woman unrolling the comfort layers of of EOS organic mattressSmiling woman unrolling the comfort layers of of EOS organic mattress

Naturepedic’s EOS Organic Latex Mattress is customizable to fit your firmness preferences. Available from extra-firm to plush, EOS series mattresses are adjustable on both sides of the bed, so if your partner’s ideal mattress firmness differs from yours, you can custom tailor each side. Plus, you can swap out comfort layers over time as your preferences change.

What’s more, our EOS mattresses are certified organic and non-toxic, which means they don’t include petroleum-based polyurethane (memory) foam which can make you feel hot and sweaty. The EOS series offers you a healthier option and contributes to a healthier planet as well. You can browse the EOS series here.