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We all want to wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and more charged than we did when we went to sleep. It is another thing however when we find ourselves mourning over fatigue, and waking up exhausted and weak.

Surprisingly, it may feel like we actually slept for eternity and our anxiety to have a productive day is only cut short by that relentless morning fatigue!

Yes, it happens all the time and can be so damn frustrating.

Why you and I are waking up exhausted and weak

Here is the thing, sleep is a natural and wonderful experience and was meant to remain so until the 21st-century lifestyle dented it irreparably.

Well, unless sleep problems are caused by one or other medical complications, you can make amends by correcting the mistakes illustrated below:

alarm clock and caffeine can leave you waking up exhausted and weak
(Photo by Aphiwat chuangchoem from Pexels)

1. Sleep inertia and REM miskicks

Many times the inability to wake up correctly is nothing more than sleep inertia.

So what is inertia?

Sleep inertia is the sudden awakening from sleep when you feel you are still deep asleep. Your body has been forced to wake up due to one reason or another.

Usually, you will experience sleep inertia when the alarm clock jolts you out of sleep, or due to REM (rapid eye movement) sleep disturbance. During the REM stage of sleep, you experience a very deep state of sleep which is characterized by dreams.

These dreams can sometime get out of control and force your body to wake up suddenly from sleep.

When this happens, you may feel exhausted and weak for a little while!

morning sleep inertia is experienced for 15 to 30 minutes after waking.


For some, sleep inertia can last up to 4 hours!

2. Poor and irregular sleeping hours

A poor sleep routine is bound to leave you waking up exhausted and weak. Ask breast feeding mothers and you will understand why.

This is how:

When you go to sleep at the wrong time you will most definitely wake up at the wrong time, and if you sleep for less than the recommended hours, you are bound to experience weakness and fatigue in the morning.

People who sleep early in the night usually sleep deep into the morning. Those that sleep late will be forced to wake up early, or sleep through the morning hours due to morning fatigue.

The normal sleeping hours should start at up until, and 7 – 8 hours are recommended for adults, and upwards of these are recommended for children.

Finally and very important, sleep is only useful during the night than the day.

In what is known as the circadian rhythm or the human body clock, you are supposed to sleep at night and stay awake during the day, and not vice versa. Period!

The human sleep cycle is controlled by the melatonin hormone which is only released at night to facilitate the sleep-wake cycle. Natural melatonin is not released during the day and therefore cannot facilitate sleep during this time.

Failure to sleep at night will lead to what is known as sleep debt, which usually manifests in drowsiness and fatigue in the morning and many times, throughout the day.

3. Bad sleeping hygiene & environment!

A bad sleeping environment is enough to mess up your sleep at night and therefore impact the morning routine.

Strong sleep hygiene means having both a bedroom environment and daily routines that promote consistent, uninterrupted sleep.

Sleep Foundation

A bad bed, extreme temperature, noise in the background, snoring roommates, etc., are all illustrations of a bad sleeping environment.

Worse still in the age of modernity and technology, a bedroom with electric lights on, and ubiquitous electronic devices can greatly interfere with sleep quality.

The blue light from the smartphone and laptop screen is known to interfere with the release of melatonin hormone, and EMF from electronic devices can mess up brain activity at night.

Poor sleeping environment and hygiene will make you wake up frequently, and miss out on proper NonREM and REM sleep stages. This will leave you waking up exhausted and weak!

4. Stimulants & depressants before bedtime

Many of the drinks and eats you take before bedtime are reason enough for you to stay wakeful at night.

They often act on the central nervous system to increase mental alertness and brain function, reducing the feeling of sleepiness.

Caffeine before bedtime will stimulate the brain to stay awake long into the night. A combination of drugs to treat obesity and asthma, taken before bedtime will ensure a state of wakefulness for several hours into the night. Smoking too will stimulate your brain to stay awake.

Meanwhile, alcohol consumption and the use of depressants before bedtime trigger a chain of events that culminates into frequent urination deep in the night. Too much alcohol will also leave you feeling like a mess in the morning with a hangover.

Elsewhere, intake of too much water and junk before bedtime will force you to wake up frequently to urinate and eat and thereby leave you waking up exhausted and weak the morning after.

5. Unhealthy living and medical complications

Your daily lifestyle can determine how well you sleep at night, let alone wake up in the morning. Anything from the basics of not working out to nutritional deficits can be recipe for disaster.

Lack of physical wellness leaves your body feeling tired even when you have just woken up.

A lack of nutritional foods can also lead to general body fatigue and weaknesses, and the same is true about indulgence in junk food, binge eating, excess alcohol, etc.

Besides the everyday circumstances that mess up the sleep-wake cycle, medical conditions and other factors listed below can interfere with your sleep, and morning time wellness:

What you can do to stop waking up exhausted and weak!

  • Avoid alarm clocks if you can.
  • Sleep early and wake up early.
  • Beware of snoring roommates.
  • Make sure your bedroom is safe from intrusions.
  • Avoid very hot and cold temperatures.
  • Turn off the lights in the bedroom.
  • Ensure one-hour screen-free time before bedtime.
  • Do not sleep with your smartphone or laptop.
  • Engage in physical activity every day.
  • Your last sip of alcohol and caffeine should be 3 – 5 hours before bedtime.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Eat a healthy balance of nutritious meals in fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy.