If you’re waking up tired and groggy every day, and that feeling doesn’t fade as you go about your morning, it may be time to look more closely at your sleep. As many as 40% of adults indicate that they feel enough fatigue to impact their daily work regularly, so this is a common problem. Waking up tired and having no energy can impact your work performance, mood, and overall functionality, but there are solutions that can help.
Sleep quality vs. sleep quantity: A key difference
If you’re thinking, “I get enough sleep each night. Why am I still waking up exhausted and weak?” the answer may not be in the amount of sleep you get, but rather in the quality of that sleep. Sleep quality is just as important as the amount of time you’re in bed, and if you’re not getting high-quality sleep, you’ll be tired. Quality sleep means your body moves through all of the four stages of the sleep cycle multiple times a night. If you’re waking up before you get into deep or REM sleep, you’re going to wake up tired. Many of the issues that can impact sleep impact the quality of your sleep, not necessarily the quantity.
1. Sleep disorders
One of the reasons people wake up tired is because of sleep disorders. These impact the quality and quantity of sleep. Some common sleep disorders include:
- Sleep apnea: Sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissue in your throat closes your airway, stopping your breathing for a short time. This causes your body to come out of the deep sleep stage too early as you partially wake up multiple times during the night.
- Restless leg syndrome: This condition causes an uncontrollable urge to move your legs while you’re sleeping. If your legs twitch and move multiple times at night, you will not sleep deeply.
- Insomnia: If you have insomnia, you might not get enough sleep even if you’re physically in bed for a good portion of the night.
- Hypersomnia: Though technically not a sleep disorder, hypersomnia is a condition that causes feelings of excessive tiredness, often without a clear cause.
If you think you may have a sleep disorder, using your favorite fitness tracker and the Evidation app can help you track your sleep quality. While this won’t diagnose your disorder, it can give you information to share with your doctor about your sleep quality to start the process of an accurate diagnosis.
2. Mental health concerns
Depression, anxiety, and stress can all disrupt your sleep. According to the National Institutes of Health, 40% of adults with depression suffer from sleep disruptions, including insomnia or hypersomnia. Anxiety and worry may also prevent you from sleeping well, leaving you tossing and turning due to your mental load so you wake up feeling as if you didn’t sleep much at all. Consider trying one of these ways to manage stress and anxiety, and you may notice improvement in your sleep.
3. Caffeine intake
Caffeine works as a stimulant on the central nervous system. If you eat food like chocolate that has caffeine or drink caffeinated sodas, coffees, or teas close to bedtime, your brain may be too awake to settle in for quality sleep. This is a catch-22 because caffeine is the natural thing to turn to when you’re struggling to sleep. If you can quit cold turkey, consider doing so, but if you can’t, try to avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening.
4. Sedentary lifestyle
If you’re feeling tired, the thought of exercising may seem out of reach, but getting more exercise during the day can help improve your sleep quality. Also, a sedentary lifestyle can make you feel more tired throughout the day. Why? This may be because your body gets used to expending low levels of energy, so when you do basic daily life activities, they make you feel more tired.
How much exercise is ideal? This is highly personal based on your own health needs, but the average adult needs 150 minutes of physical activity a week, according to the World Health Organization.
Your body needs water for all of its daily functions. In fact, over 50% of the human body is made up of water. If you’re dehydrated, your body may struggle to function well, and this can lead to fatigue, according to CNN Health. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommends 91 ounces of water a day for women and 125 ounces of water a day for men. Some of that water can come from foods like fruits and vegetables, but around 80% of your daily water should come from drinking water. Consider spacing out your water consumption to avoid nighttime trips to the bathroom, which can disrupt your sleep.
Alcohol can disrupt the REM stage of sleep. This means when you consume alcohol before bed, you may not get the deep, restorative sleep cycles you need to feel rested. Prevention Magazine recommends avoiding alcohol for four hours before you go to bed.
7. Exposure to blue light
Blue light, the type of light that comes from computer and phone screens, impacts the sleep-wake cycle. Blue wavelength light may suppress the body’s natural melatonin production and create neurological arousal. Thus, screen use prior to bedtime may hurt your ability to fall and stay asleep. If you can’t shut off the screens in the hours before you go to bed, some studies have found that the use of blue light-blocking glasses can help.
8. Poor sleeping environment
Set the stage for good quality sleep by controlling your sleeping environment. Some changes that may help you sleep better and longer include:
- Keeping the temperature comfortable
- Using a fan or noise machine to create white noise
- Having a comfortable, supportive bed and pillow
- Keeping your phone out of the bedroom
- Limiting light in the bedroom
- Using the bedroom for sleep only, not work
9. Improper sleep routine
The sleep environment is important to good sleep, but so is your bedtime routine. Getting yourself in the right relaxed frame of mind to sleep well is an important part of a good night’s sleep. First, use natural light during the day to keep your body’s natural sleep/wake cycle, known as circadian rhythm, functional. Then, practice relaxing, non-screen-related activities prior to going to sleep. Do something relaxing at the end of a busy day to decompress. Reading a book, writing in a journal, or meditation can all work well.
10. Poor nutrition
Nutrition can also play a role in how well you sleep. Some foods, such as spicy or high-fat foods, may cause digestive problems, including heartburn, that keep you up at night. In contrast, other foods can aid in relaxation. The Sleep Foundation recommends nuts, rice, cherries, kiwi, fatty fish, and dairy, if you aren’t sensitive to it.
If you want better sleep so you aren't tired when waking up, focusing on other aspects of health and wellness could help. Tracking your food, water, and exercise may give you key insights into your health. Evidation will reward you for making these changes.
Get started keeping track of your health – download the app today!