Sleep Inertia: Everything You Need To Know
As soon as you wake up, you feel groggy, still floating between a thin line of sleep and wake. This heaviness is known as sleep inertia. During sleep inertia, you may feel slightly disoriented and tired. While it doesn’t last too long, some people tend to go through versions where it does. This article will tell you everything about sleep inertia. Read ahead for more!
What Is Sleep Inertia?
Sleep inertia is when you experience grogginess, fatigue, or cognitive impairment as soon as you wake up. It can last anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes. But some also experience sleep inertia for hours. As of now, we still don’t know the exact biological reason for sleep inertia. However, it is believed that sleep inertia is a sort of defence mechanism of the body to keep you in a state of sleep if you wake up unintendedly.
If you experience prolonged or severe sleep inertia, there are chances that you will experience extreme confusion as soon as you wake up. Sleep inertia isn’t parasomnia but can lead to sleep drunkenness, which is one. However, if sleep inertia is causing any disruptions, it becomes essential to visit a doctor.
Symptoms of Sleep Inertia
Sleep inertia symptoms are the same whether you wake from a nap or a good night’s sleep. Some of them are;
- You feel highly groggy as soon as you wake up
- Unable to concentrate
- You may feel like going back to sleep
What Causes Sleep Inertia?
Scientists have been trying to understand more about sleep inertia and have come up with a few possible sleep inertia causes. They are;
High Sleep Debt
One of the main reasons why you may suffer from sleep inertia includes a high amount of sleep debt. It is the amount of sleep you owe your body for 14 days. Sleep debt occurs when you don’t give your body the sleep it deserves every night. Therefore, you can try sleeping for seven to nine hours every night to ensure you don’t suffer from chronic sleep inertia.
Slow-Wave Sleep (SWS)
Wondering why do I feel like crap in the morning, it can be because of disruptions in your slow-wave sleep (SWS). Slow-wave sleep, deep sleep, also known as non-REM sleep, is the period when your brain starts its healing and repair process. The cerebral blood volume goes down to introduce cerebrospinal fluid in the brain to flush out any memory-impairing toxins. But abrupt awakening during this period can hamper this procedure.
Maybe the never-ending deadlines had you stretching the night, or possibly exams. It is known as recovery sleep when you stay up too late and then go to sleep. Paying up your sleep debt is a good idea. However, it is known to aggravate your recovery sleep.
Your chronotype, your natural biological rhythm, affects your sleep-wake pattern. It can also influence how fast you can recover from sleep inertia. So, as per research, later chronotypes need more time to recover.
While naps can be great to refresh you or pay your sleep debt, longer naps can increase sleep inertia. Therefore, it is essential to only extend your nap for up to 30 minutes.
Core Body Temperature
As you fall asleep, the core body temperature dips down. Your body temperature is the lowest when you proceed to a deeper sleep cycle. So, waking up at this stage can make it challenging to fight sleep inertia.
How to Minimize the Effect of Sleep Inertia?
But don’t worry. There are sleep inertia cures that you can include in your everyday routine.
Pay Down Sleep Debt
As aforementioned, high sleep debt at a stretch can aggravate sleep inertia. Therefore, while it is essential to cover up the missed sleep, keep it to a minimum.
Play to Your Auditory Senses
Does your alarm tone make you happy or startle you? Well, as per new research, keeping your favourite tune as your alarm tune can reduce your sleep inertia.
Indulge In Caffeine
Well, if you depend on caffeine to fight sleep inertia after nap or sleep, you are on the right path. Caffeine interferes with adenosine as it boosts your alertness. However, don’t overindulge in caffeine, as too much isn’t good for you.
Bask in Sunlight
As soon as you wake up, open your blinds or go outside and bask in the sunlight. It not only helps you keep your circadian rhythm on track but also enables you to shake off any remaining traces of sleepiness.
If you sleep less, taking short naps to fulfil any discrepancies is ideal. However, it is essential to be strategic and take at most 30 minutes of power naps. This is one of the tips on how to get rid of sleep inertia.
Get Your Heart Pumping
How to stop sleep inertia? Morning exercise can be great for you to reduce your daytime drowsiness. Some of the advantages it fetches include;
- It increases your core body temperature and wakefulness.
- Exercise releases hormones that promote wakefulness.
- It keeps your blood circulation at optimal levels and gives you a boost of energy.
Finally, maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Sleep and wake up at the same time, as it keeps your sleep debt to a minimum and enables you to fall asleep and wake up easily. It keeps your circadian rhythm proper.
When to Talk to Your Doctor?
You must see a doctor if;
- You have started experiencing extreme sleep inertia
- You have long sleep inertia that disrupts your everyday life
- If you also have other sleep problems along with sleep inertia
- If you have started experiencing sleep inertia after medications
If you experience sleep inertia for a few seconds to minutes, you are good to go, as it wears down quickly. However, it affects your day-to-day responsibilities if you have trouble shaking off the grogginess or drowsiness in the morning.
Is sleep debt a real thing?
Yes, sleep debt is a real thing. And not getting enough sleep can build up debt.
Can you regain sleep debt?
Yes, you can. It is seen that it can take up to four days to recover an hour of lost sleep and almost nine days to clear the debt.
What are the symptoms of sleep debt?
Some of the symptoms of sleep debt include;
- You feel tired throughout the day
- You are unable to focus
- It hampers your efficiency
- It makes it difficult to process new information
What causes sleep debt?
Not sleeping enough every night leads to sleep debt.
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