Let’s get one thing out of the way: It’s completely normal to feel a little groggy right when you wake up. You know, that bit of fatigue that fades away with the help of a huge cup of coffee or a nice shower. What’s not so normal is waking up sleepy and staying sleepy all morning long. Read on for five reasons you might be waking up tired, from the foods you’re eating before bed to your nightly hot shower ritual.
1. You’re Eating Sweets (or Spicy Foods) Too Close to Bedtime
We love dessert (we’re not monsters), but indulging in sweets too close to bedtime could be detrimental to your sleep health. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that foods high in saturated fat and sugar are associated with lighter, less restorative sleep with more interruptions. Oh, and avoid eating spicy foods before you hit the hay. They often cause acid reflux, which is exacerbated if you lie down too soon after eating. (Sorry, nachos. Not tonight.) As for when you should finish up your last meal of the day, nutritionist Samantha Cassetty, RD, explains that chowing down too close to bedtime can mess with your sleep. “Lying down close to eating can cause acid reflux, which can arouse you or wake you periodically during the night,” Cassetty notes. "This situation limits that deep, restorative sleep you need to function well during the day.” Her suggestion? Finish eating at least two hours before hitting the hay.
2. You’re Having One Glass of Wine Too Many
We know the benefits of drinking a glass or two of red wine before bed. But any more than two glasses can actually mess with your sleep cycle. A little alcohol might make it easier to fall asleep, but it will also decrease the quality of your snooze by reducing rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Indulge in a glass or two around dinnertime so your body can metabolize it well before you turn in for the night.
3. You’re Ending the Night with a Hot Shower or Bath
Soaking in a hot tub might sound like the perfect end to a long day, but think twice before you mix up the bubbles. Our friends at the National Sleep Foundation tell us that our internal body temperature typically lowers a few degrees before bed, helping us feel calm and drowsy. Raising your body temperature (like, by sitting in steamy water) is likely to make you feel wide awake. So skip the suds or enjoy them earlier in the evening.
4. You Scroll on Instagram in Bed
Most of us are guilty of checking our phones in bed, OK? But just because it’s common doesn’t make it healthy. Why? The blue light from the screens on our beloved devices can trick the brain into thinking it’s still daytime, messing up our circadian rhythm, the physiological cycle that informs our sleep. Andrew Varga, M.D., a neurologist and sleep medicine specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, explains, “Electronic devices with backlit screens emit a very high percentage of blue wavelength light. Exposure to blue light from any source—including TVs, cell phones, laptops, e-readers and tablets—late in the day has the effect of advancing our circadian phase, meaning it makes it so that one will become naturally tired later in the night.” Try to limit your phone usage in the hour or two leading to bed and consider investing in a regular old alarm clock instead of using the one on your phone.
5. You Sleep in on the Weekends
Saturday and Sunday mornings might have been snooze-the-day-away free-for-alls when you were in college, but it’s wrecking your sleep schedule now. Try to work toward waking up and getting out of bed at the same time every day—regardless of when you have work—to get your sleep and wake times on track. “Much of it is about personal limit-setting, recognizing the environmental factors and personal habits that have the capacity to disrupt one’s sleep schedule,” Dr. Varga says, “and trying to minimize the variance in daily sleep onset and offset time, particularly between weekend and weekday times.”
Sleep scientist Matthew Walker told NPR that sleeping until noon on the weekends won’t actually make up for a week of bad nights. "Sleep is not like the bank, so you can’t accumulate a debt and then try and pay it off at a later point in time. So the brain has no capacity to get back that lost sleep that you’ve been lumbering it with during the week in terms of a debt." Sad but true.