Why is it So Hard to Get Up in the Morning?


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Ever find yourself having a hard time falling asleep or waking up? Ever wish that your alarm would go off later? Ever wish that the 'snooze' period would feel longer? These are all related. So why exactly is it so hard to wake up in the morning? According to an article published in "Daily Mail" a UK news site, approximately 62 percent of Brits reported needing anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour before they felt fully awake. So why is this?

 

According to sleep expert Dr. Neil Stanley, it could be due to sleep deprivation or that your body's natural rhythm is out of sync. Now what exactly does this mean? It means that your body's natural clock isn't in time with your actual one. Every body has what is thought to be an "extremely accurate" natural clock, which prepares your body to wake up hours in advance from your actual wake up time.

 

In order to prep your body for waking up, your natural clock causes sleep to become lighter, your body temperature to rise and it also releases the stress hormone cortisol which will help you feel energized so you can "get up and go". So given this, why is it so difficult to wake up in the morning? Studies show that if your body's rhythm is off it doesn't know when you are waking up and therefore cannot help prepare it for waking up leaving you with a groggy exhausted feeling.

 

In order to help yourself wake up every day feeling less and less exhausted you can try to get the required amount of sleep your body needs (which is between 7-9 hours for adults) and you can try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day (even on weekends). The idea of waking up early on weekends when you don't have to sounds awful, but according to Dr. Stanley in a couple of weeks your body will be back in rhythm and it will be easier for you to wake up.


Also, according to an Oxford University professor of neuroscience, Russell Foster, due to the fact that we are diurnal (we sleep at night and are awake during the day) our Circadian rhythm (which is the rhythm that controls when we feel awake and tired) is based off of light receptors in the eye that send messages to our brains and help set our natural clock. So if you are like me, and wake up before the sun rises and go to bed after the sunsets, you might be finding it difficult to wake up. This is because your body still things you should still be asleep due to the fact that the light receptors in your eye have not been able to send messages to our brain because they haven't been in contact with any natural light.


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In order to reset your body clock, it is suggested that you spend time (about one to two hours) out in the sun each day in order to allow your body to reset its body clock and synchronize with "the local times". This tip also works well for jetlag. In another article published on waking up by PopSci's Jessica Cheng, Jean Matheson, a sleep-disorder specialist at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, you can also start setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier each day in order to wake yourself up easier. However, the issue with this is the potential to fall back asleep. In Daily Mail's article, it states that many experts say staying in bed for an extra 10 or 20 minutes is the WORST possible thing to do because it messes up your bodies "pre-waking" hour. During this hour, Dr. Stanley says sleep gets lighter in order to make it easier for you to wake up however, if you hit the snooze button you take the risk of falling back into a deep sleep and pass over the preparation stage making you feel worse later on when you actually do get up.

5 Comments

I had to wake up earlier than usual today, around 7:30am, because I had a meeting at 8am. I usually wake up at 8am even though I don't have class till 11 because I like to give my body enough time to fully wake up. I actually forgot to set up my alarm and luckily I woke up on my own because of my internal clock (I'm guessing) My body is used to waking up around 8 so it did without that extra alarm. If you think about it's actually pretty cool that we have this "internal clock." I am guilty of setting my alarm a little earlier than necessary so I can wake up and sleep for ten more precious minutes. I probably knew in the back of my head this wasn't beneficial in waking up my body because it teases my body into thinking I can go back to sleep and threatens to do so (often times it does) Still, I do it anyway because those 10 minutes seem so worth it. After reading your blog I am going to try to force myself out of bed right when my alarm goes off. Hopefully this will lead to a more alert and productive day.

Another possible topic to branch off this one of habits that effect alertness and feeling refreshed in the morning could be the science that effects the internal clock after sleeping too much. Like way way too much, not just hitting the snooze button. I know if I sleep until noon or later on a Saturday it is always harder to get out of bed and fully wake up. I am groggy and tired all day. You would think getting excess sleep would lend you extra energy, but it seems it is the opposite and really confuses that internal clock. I guess there's a "just right" balance for everyone's internal clock.

A lot of studies also say that taking naps during the day can also be really beneficial to your health, especially to those who are sleep deprived. An article from Happy Living (http://www.happynews.com/living/sleep/taking-nap.htm) says that "people who nap even a half hour each day generally have lower blood pressure, have a decreased risk for heart disease, and are more productive and less stressed in their waking hours." So if you're not getting enough sleep at night, a short nap during the day can really help you out. However, studies suggest not to nap longer than an hour and a half or else you'll take the chance of feeling even more sluggish than you felt before.

I'm glad somebody wrote about this - in the midst of scheduling classes for next semester, one of my only requirements is no 8 AMs. It might sound silly at first, but I physically cannot get out of bed that early. I feel nauseous and mad at the world in general. Some might say that an hour or two doesn't make a huge difference, but I know it does. My earliest class right now is at 9:45 and it's hard for me to wake up that early. But the thing I notice is that once I'm up, I'm up. It takes about a half hour, but once I'm awake I no longer feel the sickness associated with waking up early. I noticed you wrote about the possibility of waking up earlier on weekends so our bodies could get used to a normal sleep schedule. But I've also heard that scientists encourage us to sleep as much as we can on the weekends to save our energy up for the week. Of course this option sounds better to me because it involves sleeping in, but which one actually works better and leads to a healthier sleep schedule? What does everyone think- should we sleep as much as possible on the weekends or keep a consistent pattern?

Sleep is by far my best friend. I have the hardest time getting out of best in the morning and the snooze button is my worst enemy! I press it entirly too ofen and find myself racing with the clock. I'm so glad you wrote a blog about this topic! In order to be able to get out of bed in the morning you say to get the required amount of sleep between 7-9 hours. Lets be realistic, this is college! I would pay to get 7 hours of sleep every night. I feel like I can never catch up between work, class, homework and having the little amount of social life that I do actually have. So I pose the question, does taking short naps every day compensate for losing sleep at night?

Sleep has been very beneficial to me. When I played tennis at PSU-Harrisburg, I found that by napping in the van to our away matches, I felt more refreshed, had more energy, and was more prepared to play. Coming back from the matches, I slept some more, which I think contributed to me having issues waking up early the next day for an early class. I've found that sleeping between 6 (as a bare minimum) and 9 hours is the best for me.

I know you mentioned jet lag in here, but what if you are travelling, get stuck on a layover in one country, only to fly back to another country, completely messing up your circadian rhythm? Also, what if you wake up without hitting your snooze button, and stay in your bed that extra 10-20 minutes without falling back asleep?

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