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What is sleep inertia?

Sleep Advice
October 25, 2022

Most of us have woken up with the overwhelming urge to hit “snooze” and stay in bed.

Whilst it’s not uncommon to feel tired when you first wake up, if it takes you hours to feel fully awake in the morning, it could be a sign of sleep inertia.  

Characterised by lingering feelings of grogginess, sleep inertia occurs when we transition from sleep to wakefulness and can set our day up poorly. It might explain why you spilt your coffee or why it took you a while to shake that foggy feeling.

Staying up late, not getting enough sleep or waking up at a bad moment for your brain can all contribute to sleep inertia.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to improve your start to the day.

How to overcome sleep inertia 

You can combat sleep inertia by using these 3 tips below. Try them out and discover what works for you.

Listen to your body, not the clock 

You can reduce sleep inertia in the morning by listening to your body and getting an early night. If you’re regularly feeling tired, it could be that you’re not getting enough sleep and should consider adjusting to an earlier bedtime. 

There is no shame in winding down in the earlier part of your evening and aiming to bed before your usual bedtime. If you're a night owl who prefers to stay up later, you can adjust your sleep-wake cycle gradually by going to bed slightly earlier each night.

Tracking your sleep with Sleepwave is an easy and convenient to way build a picture of your patterns over time.

Maximise your exposure to daylight 

Our sleep-wake cycle helps determine when we feel awake and when we feel sleepy and is influenced by external cues such as natural light. Exposure to daylight, particularly in the morning, signals to your brain that it’s time to wake up and start your day. 

During winter, when there is less daylight overall, adjusting to an earlier morning wake up and bedtime helps make the most of mood-boosting natural light whilst still making sure you get enough sleep. 

Start your day with a motion-sensing smart alarm 

A badly-timed wake up can lead to sleep inertia. The difference between a good moment to wake up and a bad one can be a matter of minutes.  

Whenever we move in bed, we are naturally more alert and in an easier state to awaken from. Sleepwave's motion-sensing smart alarm is linked to your body movements. Set a 15-minute window and the alarm will gently sound at a great moment, helping to combat lingering feelings of tiredness.

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