Sometimes, we wake up as soon as our morning alarms sound, filled with energy and ready to tackle the day ahead. More often, we wake up groggy, ill-prepared to do anything.
Early morning tiredness can be due to medical conditions such as stress, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), and hypothyroidism. Other causes of low energy in the morning include artificial stimulants (such as coffee), taking too many naps, and sleep debt (the gradual accumulation of lost sleep).
How we start our days often sets the tone for the day ahead. Adjust your bedtime routines and sleep patterns if you always feel sluggish first thing in the morning, no matter how much sleep you get.
Why Am I Always Sleepy in the Morning?
It’s perfectly natural to be sleepy first thing in the morning, especially if you don’t wake up naturally. Being pulled from a deep sleep by the sound of an alarm can feel quite jarring, and the body and mind will need time to adjust.
Additionally, some of us aren’t wired to be morning people. The Journal of Biological Rhythms explains how humans are divided into “morning larks” and “night owls.” Some brains and bodies are engineered to feel sharper and more awake at night.
That may seem unfair to night owls, as human endeavor – especially regarding employment – revolves around daylight hours. Thankfully, it’s possible for even the most ardent night owl to feel sharp and refreshed in the morning.
How to Wake Up in the Morning and Not Feel Tired
It’s natural to feel groggy when you first wake up in the morning (sleep inertia), and that’s all part of transitioning from sleep to wakefulness. This bleariness should be a short-term issue, not something that lasts until your second cup of coffee.
Some people make the mistake of assuming that because they went to bed eight hours before their alarm sounded, they should wake up feeling refreshed. Sadly, the human body’s needs are more complicated than this.
If you find that mornings slip away from you and you’re always running late as you cannot get out of bed, you’ll need to adjust your routines. Thankfully, some comparatively minor tweaks can have a significant impact and make your mornings less fraught.
Do Not Use the Snooze Button
The snooze button feels like a refuge first thing in the morning. We all convince ourselves that ten more minutes is all we need to feel ready to make a start, and the trouble starts when ten minutes becomes twenty, then becomes thirty, and so on.
This will create more problems than being late for work. When an alarm wakes us, we enter a state that Sleep Medicine Reviews refers to as ‘sleep inertia’ – those foggy moments that define the transition from sleep to wakefulness.
If you hit the snooze button immediately, you restart the process. You may have the best of intentions, planning on spending your extra ten minutes contemplating the day ahead, but you’ll re-enter the first stage of sleep again.
As you can imagine, this is a vicious circle. When the alarm sounds again, you’re back to square one. You’ve gained nothing from losing that time to the snooze function and will likely be even wearier after being dragged from another sleep cycle.
Embrace Natural Light
The body is governed by circadian rhythms, a 24-hour cycle that regulates whether we’re sleepy or feeling sharp and awake. When waking in a dark room, your brain likely insists that it’s still night and that you should be asleep.
The solution seems straightforward during the summer months – sleep with your curtains, drapes, or blinds open. This isn’t always an option, as you may feel exposed doing so or have a streetlight outside your window that would keep you awake.
To make up for the increasingly late sunrises of the winter period, a way around this is to get a light therapy lamp for your bedroom. These lamps can be programmed to switch on at a set time and steadily fill a room with light, imitating a natural sunrise.
Keep Water by Your Bed
It’s inadvisable to take in too much fluid before you go to bed at night. The obvious reason is that you’ll need to pass that fluid, and needing to use the toilet at night can be annoying. Hydration will also keep your brain alert and sharp, though.
That is the last thing you want when thinking about bed, as that’s the time to start slowing down and unwinding, not sharpening and honing your thought processes. The morning is a different story, though.
Keep a glass or bottle of water by your bed and sip at it when you wake up. You’ll quickly feel the benefit, feeling much sharper and more alert.
Also, unlike a cup of coffee, this is not an artificial spike in attentiveness.
For most of us, getting up from under the bedsheets in the morning is a horrible idea. The fact is that the moment your feet hit the floor, you’ll start to feel better. It’s all psychological.
If you need the bathroom when you wake up, go there without pressing the snooze button. Once you’ve done what you must, you may as well brush your teeth. Now that you’ve brushed your teeth, why not get a head start on the day and take a shower?
The earlier you start to move in the morning, the more refreshed and ready for the day you’ll feel. If you slept well the night before, you’d quickly find that you’re considerably more recharged than you realized.
Why am I Always Tired and Have No Energy?
It can be frustrating to constantly fight waves of fatigue and battle to keep your eyes open throughout the day. It’s natural to feel more awake at certain times of the day, but you shouldn’t live in a constant fog of exhaustion and lethargy.
Review your morning routines if you struggle for energy throughout the day, even though you have slept for eight hours. You may suffer the rest of your day if you act against any of the advice above.
If you’re starting your day the right way, investigate other explanations for your lethargy throughout the day. This can be just as important as monitoring your sleep patterns.
1/ Sleep Debt
Did you have a bad night’s sleep last night? That’s unfortunate, but you can make up for it tonight. Oh, you need to work late? Well, you’ll sleep in at the weekend. Although you must take the kids to soccer practice at 8 am on Saturday, perhaps you’ll go next week.
Does this sound like a familiar pattern for you? If so, you’re likely experiencing ‘sleep debt’ – the gradual accumulation of lost or poor-quality sleep. Over time, sleep debt will take its toll; one good night’s rest won’t make up for weeks of substandard slumber.
Sleep debt has been considered a harmless side effect of the modern world for a long time. As explained by The Lancet, though, sleep debt has a sizable impact on the body’s metabolism. Sooner or later, it will catch up with you, and you’ll struggle for energy.
Sleep debt is like high-interest credit card debt – it’s easy to accumulate and tough to pay off. You’ll need to be persistent in practicing superior sleep hygiene over a prolonged period to return to peak performance. Keep this in mind when making plans.
2/ Reliance On Napping
How you respond to tiredness will affect how your body reacts to the sensation. Sometimes a short-term solution, such as taking a nap or picking up a caffeinated beverage, can have a long-term impact.
Naps can be a great way to refocus your mind if you’re flagging mid-afternoon, but they can reduce your body’s resilience to weariness. If you train your body and brain to nap, missing your siesta will wreak havoc with your general energy.
3/ Artificial Stimulants
Coffee can perk us up when we start to feel tired. Caffeine’s impact has a shelf-life, though. When the effect wears off, you’ll feel even more shattered than before. Alas, the caffeine will remain in your system, possibly leading to difficulty sleeping at night.
Sugar is another stimulant that needs to be approached with caution. We all have a different relationship with sugar. Some of us find it causes an instant energy spike followed by a lull; for others, as per Health Economics, sugar leads straight to a relaxing, soothing response.
Cut out naps and stimulants when you’re tired. If you can sustain this for a while, you’ll build a better tolerance and find it easier to maintain a constant energy level throughout the day. If you’re struggling to focus, try short and intense bursts of meditation.
4/ Personal Health
As this specializes in sleep, we try to avoid discussing general health. If you have any reason to believe you’re living with an ongoing health complaint, you should consider speaking to a healthcare professional.
If you have recently become prone to sudden episodes of extreme fatigue, there could be an explanation. If you present to a doctor complaining of feeling tired all the time and having no energy, tests will be run to identify any conditions that explain this.
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome)
ME/CFS is an often-misunderstood condition. Like some people dismiss depression as feeling down in the dumps, chronic fatigue can be waved away as being run-down and tired at the end of a busy day. This is a mistake, as ME/CFS is a lifelong condition.
As you can imagine, this concern leaves you feeling exhausted pretty much all the time. No matter how much sleep you get, you’ll feel fatigued. This can lead to knock-on symptoms, such as cognitive issues, joint pain, heart palpitations, and dizziness.
Medical science is unsure what causes ME/CFS, but it can be hereditary. Alternatively, hormonal imbalances, reduced immunity, and prolonged recovery from significant bacterial or viral infections can be blamed.
Underactive Thyroid (Hypothyroidism)
No matter how much we sleep, unresolved exhaustion can often be a side effect of hypothyroidism. This condition arises when the thyroid gland, located in the neck, does not produce enough hormones.
Aside from low energy, which is often the most telling sign of underactive thyroid, symptoms include:
- Weight gain, even if you count calories and exercise regularly
- Aching muscles, especially the legs
- Inability to stay warm
- Dry skin and hair
Hypothyroidism will be diagnosed based on blood tests. While there’s no cure for this ailment, it’s not life-threatening. You’ll just be prescribed daily medication that replaces the hormones your thyroid gland isn’t creating, thus easing the symptoms.
Stress and Anxiety
Living with stress and anxiety can be exhausting. The Academy of Management Journal explains that working in a high-stress environment can lead to emotional exhaustion.
Of course, stress and anxiety can drastically impact our ability to sleep well. If you keep waking at night, subconscious worries may be responsible, impacting your energy levels.
Discuss potential techniques to manage stress and anxiety, whether prescription medication or cognitive behavioral therapy. If you are less prone to attacks of disquiet, you’re likelier to enjoy more energy throughout the day, and better sleep at night.
Most people ask, “why am I always tired, even though I get enough sleep?” at some stage in their lives. Sleep quality is just as important as the number of hours spent in bed. Stop thinking of sleep as a box-checking exercise with a time target to hit, and you’ll likely start waking up feeling refreshed.