If you’re not a sleep deprived being, you will know of sleep inertia as the first 1 to 5 minutes after waking up. In this phase, you’re awake, but not fully. If, however, you are facing sleeping problems, then this duration may be substantial, and you will need to find the right cure.
Inertia is the body’s inability to let go of a certain path after it gains momentum. An example would be a ball rolling down a slope and still rolling after the slope ends on a horizontal surface. You introduce that word to “sleep” and you get my worst enemy. Sleep inertia is that compelling feeling that you may face in the morning, telling you to go back to sleep, making waking up difficult and all the more hated, even if you’re late for work. That is why prolonged drowsiness can be a bad thing. You basically become a zombie for some time, until you’re kicked by your co-workers and forced to wake up. Normally, sleep inertia lasts for about 1 to 5 minutes. But for people with heavy sleep deprivation, it is a worthy adversary. It lasts for hours and can be quite a pain to get over. Studies and experiences have shown that sleep inertia can prove to be worse than not sleeping. And the thing is, it affects you anytime you wake up, whether it’s in the morning or after a quick nap in the afternoon.
Causes of Sleep Inertia
Scientists and common men each have their explanations and antidotes for sleep inertia. Here are the most common ones:
Time of Waking
The magnitude of drowsiness depends on when you wake up. This has been shown scientifically, stating that deep sleep is the worst possible time to be awoken. It induces a high amount of sleep inertia. Sleep can be divided into 4 stages;
- First one being light sleep or half asleep
- Second comes low eye movement and asleep
- Third stage being the transition with the inception of Delta waves or “deep-sleep” waves
- Fourth stage being full of those waves
If you wake up in the third or fourth stages (they’re so close they can be said as the same stage), you earn a good chance of waking up with sleep inertia.
Amount of Sleep
Simple; sleep less and wake up groggy. You don’t need scientists to tell you that lack of sleep can cause sleep inertia when you wake up. This includes the need to stay awake, whatever the reasons may be (night shifts or socializing). It all adds up till you just can’t wake up on time in the morning.
Fighting Off Sleep Inertia
The best way to tackle the problem is to nip it in the bud. When you wake up, battling sleep inertia is all about getting the ‘kick’, not from your mom or your wife, but the kind of sharp shock of being totally awake. Here are ways to do that:
- Just get off that bed. It doesn’t matter how comfortable your mattress is, get off it. And if you can’t get off, jump off. The blood rush and the instant need for an energy burst gives you a proper kick to feel wide awake.
- Get as much sunlight into your room as you can. You can either pull the curtains open or have someone do it for you.
- If you do have someone to do that, then you can go ahead and give them permission to drag you out of the bed too. Humiliation and laziness are no excuses for ruining a good day.
- Another point I’d like to mention is that the ‘snooze’ function on an alarm is just something that you’ll use to prolong your sleep. So avoid using it.
- Stop any caffeine consumption in the evenings. Your body responds to any caffeine intake for quite a long time, so any coffee in the evening may keep you awake for a long time.
- Your body responds to sunlight in the morning by releasing chemicals that help you wake up. So make it a point to not draw the blinds completely when you go to sleep.
- Splash water on your face. Use warm water in winter and cold water in summer. The temperature change should shock you out of your trance.
Apart from the quick-fix cures, there’s also some other things that help you out in the long run against sleep inertia:
- Take care of your sleeping posture, even when napping. Muscle contortions may drain off some energy, making them feel limp and weak when you wake up.
- Make sure you get plenty of sleep, or rather the right amount. The optimum amount of sleep depends from person to person, but averages out between 6 to 8 hours. Don’t compromise your time to sleep in the night, unless it’s something too important. Bear in mind, the amount of time for which you sleep not only affects you when you wake up, but can also have long term effects on your body.
- The main aim is to feel sleepy at the right time. This involves eating the right food for a clean and healthy system, getting enough exercise to expend energy and regenerate it, socialize and keep a balanced lifestyle.
Fighting the urge to oversleep and tackling morning grogginess was a tough thing for me, but once I decided to get over it, I made sure it never hampered the way I lived. This goes especially to those who need to travel to work early in the morning. You don’t want a bad start to your day now, do you?