Why Are You Groggy After A Nap?
The snooze button can be way too tempting sometimes, especially when you're taking a nap.
Honestly, for those of us who regularly wake up from a quick slumber feeling completely discombobulated, the snooze button is a danger that just shouldn't even exist at all.
If you've ever woken up from a nap feeling like you're hungover from an afternoon of heavy drinking, it's only natural to wonder why. I mean, aren't naps supposed to feel refreshing and, you know, nothing like a hangover?
Chances are, you may have sleep inertia.
What is sleep inertia?
Sleep inertia is when you awake from your slumber (no matter how long or short it may be) feeling groggy, discombobulated, disoriented, and maybe even drunk.
Essentially, your body refuses to experience complete awakening (though your alarm says otherwise). The thing is, part of you is technically still sleeping even though you know you're awake.
Even though most people use alarm clocks to wake up at a fixed time, that 2 p.m. alert has nothing to do with your body's natural circadian rhythm.
When your alarm clock decides to ring, it could be at the exact same time that your body happens to still be deep in REM sleep.
Sudden awakening during REM sleep is super inefficient when it comes to getting in a good nap because your body is still doused in melatonin, a hormone that controls your sleeping and waking cycles.
However, if you can manage to wake up during non-REM sleep, your body is more willing to cooperate and get on with the day.
This is why some people opt for alarm clocks that detect their sleep cycle. Apps like Sleep Cycle don't wake you up according to the time you think you should be awake, but rather, at a time when your body is at its lightest sleep cycle.
So if you have to wake up at 8 a.m., you may be surprised to know that a little before 8 a.m. is actually the best time for you to rise. The longer you allow your body to get into REM, the higher the level of melatonin, and the more unwilling it is to get moving.
But sometimes, it's not sleep inertia; sometimes, it's you.
However, some of us have the pleasure of having wonderful power naps that do the job, allowing us wake up completely ready to go.
Elite Daily spoke with NYC-based licensed acupuncturist and consulting hypnotherapist, Dr. Daniel Bernstein, who explained that disorientation after awaking doesn't always have to do with sleep inertia.
Sometimes, you can simply be sleep deprived.
Those who feel disoriented are probably sleep-deprived and the body wants more of it. So that typically tells me that people have some sleep deprivation if they're tired after napping.
So what can you do to prevent such disorientation after a nap?
According to Dr. Bernstein, this “goes back a little deeper into handling stress levels, so stress levels don't deplete the adrenals. When the adrenals are depleted, that means cortisol levels are spiking, so the body always feels tired."
Some people regularly wake up feeling exhausted, so that would be one of those syndromes that require you to go a little deeper. It's not just a simple fix.
It all goes back to individualizing your self-care. If you have sleep inertia, fixed alarm clocks may not be for you. You may need a gentler wake up, like an alarm accompanied by soft music.
If you don't have sleep inertia and you're still feeling groggy, upgrade your self-care by allowing enough time for your body to rest and recuperate throughout the week.
If this means you have to miss a date with a friend, or even miss your favorite show, then in the name of self-care, do so.
Here's some tough love: At the end of the day, the world moves on whether you can make it out of the bed or not. You are the only one who can care for you.
So, you might as well get with the program, make it easier on yourself, and wake up the right way.