Everything You Need To Know About Sleep Inertia!

Do you dread your mornings? Does your bed call to you ever so sweetly to just get back in and get another few hours of Z's? Do you get eight hours of sleep and still feeling like the walking dead? You're not the only one, let's talk sleep inertia! What is it? why does it happen? what can you do about?! All that good stuff, right here at Zeek.

WHAT IS SLEEP INTERTIA?

It's that feeling of sleepiness in the morning or after a longer-than-intended nap. You're not yawning, you're not tired exactly, but you don't feel rested. You don't feel fresh. You're groggy, you're fatigued, a bit confused and disorientated and your motivation to do anything but go back to sleep is at rock bottom! You kind of just zombie your way through the following minutes, hours or even days and this often leads to impaired cognative ability, visual attention, and spatial memory. It's no surprise, because whilst afflicted with sleep inertia parts of your body are actually still in a sleep state!

WHY IS IT HAPPENING?

While it's clear that the root cause of sleep inertia is being suddenly and dramatically woken up during REM sleepmost commonly with the use of traditional alarm clocks—the exact processes that create the phenomena are currently unproven! Here's three leading theories.

Delta Waves

One theory is that the brain has been jarred awake before it has been able to properly reduce delta waves for a more gentle waking period. What are delta waves? They're the slowest, deepest brain waves that your brain settles into during the heaviest periods of sleep known as deep sleep. This is when your body is restoring itself the most, releasing lots of wonderful hormones like melatonin and DHEA! People typically want about an hour to an hour and a half of their nightly slumber to be deep sleep but here's the problem... if you're woken up during a sleep stage—especially deep sleepyour risk and severity of sleep inertia goes through the roof! This is why traditional alarm clocks can be so damaging, as they're essentially playing russian roulette with your sleep stages. There's only a 9% chance that an alarm clock will strike at the optimal time to wake you up.

Adenosine

The second major theory is that sleep deprivation is leading to high levels of Adenosine, a nucleic acid
compound found in the brain and a pivotal part of sleep and wakefulness. Interestingly, this chemical is something that caffeine does an excellent job of surpressing and may partly explain the popularity of coffee and energy drink consumption early in the morning.

Reduced Blood Flow

Finally, the brain receives increasing and decreasing flows of blood depending on your stage of sleep. Not just small variations either, in some studies it's been reported that the brain receives up to a whopping 80% extra blood flow during the highs of REM sleep! This theory needs more research, but it's thought that the symptoms of sleep inertia may be at least partly caused by a steep reduction in blood flow upon waking.

woman at peace and tranquillity on a Zeek mattress.

HOW CAN I COUNTER IT?

Let's be clear, you should try and combat sleep inertia if you're experiencing it regularly. It can have a profound effect on your life and can even be dangerous. Other than lowered motivation, productivity, and reduced memory, sleep inertia also generally leads to unhealthy amounts of caffiene consumption and to drowsy driving early in the morning. Drowsy driving is thought to cause around 20 percent of all traffic accidents, and a good chunk of those occur early in the morning shortly after the driver has woken up. So, what can we do about it?

Smart alarm clocks can be a much less dramatic way to wake up in the morning. Coaxing your body out of slumber at the optimal time in a more peaceful fashion.

Alternatively, if you play around with your sleep schedule by adding an hour here or subtracting 30 minutes there, you may be able to find the perfect time to be woken up by a traditional alarm clock, hitting that sweet spot between sleep stages!

Exercise soon after waking up can really shake off the cobwebs and that includes any symptoms of sleep inertia. As your heart rate picks up and your body is flooded with adrenaline, you'll quickly find yourself returning to a more normal state that should persist throughout the day, provided you've had enough sleep.

Caffeine does wonders to help suppress and block Adenosine, the aforementioned acid compound that's vital to a healthy sleep and wake cycle. This in turn leads to increased alertness and wakefulness. However, as everybody knows, caffeine works a little bit too well and can negatively impact your ability to sleep and the quality of that sleep. It's often recommended to have caffeine no later than 2pm.

Me-time first thing in the morning might not be the answer you're looking for, but if your sleep inertia reliably fades within a certain amount of time then simply giving yourself a good leisurely window to wake up within could do you some good. Some time to just sit and process and enjoy a few quiet moments before the needs of the day come calling. Perhaps pick up a book, play with the pets, practice mindfulness and meditation... whatever helps you find a bit of zen in the morning.

Short naps can help reclaim some much needed sleep and give you a boost to get through the rest of the day. Just remember to keep them under 30 minutes and to not have them later than around 3pm or you may make things worse in the long run. They also feel pretty good so it's a win/win all round!

Restricting artificial light at night can lead to better and more refreshing sleep. It's common advice but it really works! Keeping your sleep and wake cycles naturally in sync with the day and night cycle is the ultimate goal for better sleep, and bright artificial lights late into the night can massively impact your bodies ability to do this. It's not all bad though, you don't have to go full cave-man. Forgoing screens al-together is ideal, buuut a dimmer, further away television is going to be a lot better for you than a close-up phone screen or computer monitor. It's all about moderation as you get closer to bed time and finding out what really works for you and your lifestyle.

A consistent sleep and wake time can really improve your sleep quality! As mentioned above, keeping your sleep and wake cycles in step is the goal. Yes, even on weekends. That's the hard part. The human body loves a good routine, and that's no more true than when it comes to your natural circadian rhythms!

A quality mattress, bedding and pillows can have an immediate and life-changing impact on not just your overall sleep quality, but how quickly you can get to sleep as well!

It's common advice to change your mattress every 7-10 years and bedding every couple. Luckily we here at Zeek have you covered! With our excellent range of mattresses, pillows and bedding, you'll be sleeping like a rock in no time.

Man smiling at a Zeek Original Mattress.

SLEEP IT OFF

Hopefully that helps any fellow strugglers out there! But if these tips are proving fruitless and your symptoms persist throughout the day, it may be worth consulting a professional as it could be a sign of something more sinister. You can never be too careful when it comes to your health, and if there's one thing we want to promote here at Zeek, it's better sleep!