We all know how important sleep is, and we dutifully hit the sack to make sure we get the recommended 7 – 8 hours of sleep each night.
But after all that “rest”, do you feel exactly how you did before turning in for the night – groggy and tired?
It’s frustrating. So, here are 9 reasons why you don’t feel refreshed and rejuvenated after sleeping through the night.
Ayurvedic and western health professionals both advise that we eat dinner at least 2 – 3 hours before going to bed. This allows your body to get a jump start on digesting everything.
You see, when you’re sleeping, your body is incredibly busy detoxing and restoring itself. So, when you eat dinner just before falling asleep, you interfere with your body’s nightly processes.
Eating late, in general, will disrupt restorative sleep. Even if you eat healthy foods like complex carbohydrates, leafy greens, and lean meats.
So, you can only imagine what happens when you fill up on sugary treats, caffeinated beverages, as well as fatty, fried or processed foods. You should also avoid spicy cuisine since that can only increase your chances of getting indigestion, heartburn and acid reflux.
Finally, when you go to sleep with a full stomach, you don’t have gravity to help move the food down through your digestive track. Instead, everything moves much more slowly since you’re lying down horizontally.
You may have an undiagnosed sleep disorder, like sleep inertia. Sleep specialist, Michael Decker, Ph.D., explains that during sleep, our brain moves through three stages of sleep: non-rapid eye movement (NREM), slow wave sleep (SWS) and rapid eye movement (REM).
Usually, we wake up out of NREM sleep, when our brain is active and can make the transition into consciousness relatively quickly.
However, if you’re waking up when you’re still in the SWS stage, your brain’s metabolic activity is slower, and that makes it more difficult for your brain to wake up, and to be responsive and consciously aware.
It might seem like we can escape our hectic lives and the triggers of stress when we sleep. But the reality is that stress affects the quality of our sleep, too. In fact, nearly 50% of Americans say that stress leads to poor quality sleep in this survey.
How does stress affect your sleep? It has to do with your stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol is naturally higher in the morning and during the day – it helps to give us energy to get moving.
But when we’re stressed, cortisol goes up and stays up. And when we end the day with high cortisol levels, we have a hard time slowing down and relaxing.
Cortisol also affects the endocrine system, and therefore, all your body’s hormone production. That means the production of melatonin is disrupted, too. And melatonin, the sleep hormone, is crucial for a good night’s rest.
Without enough of this important mineral, magnesium, it’s difficult for your body to sleep long enough and fall asleep quickly.
That’s because magnesium helps the body move from a wakeful state to a restful state, especially when it comes to relaxing the muscles throughout the body. It also provides neuroprotective actions, which help your brain transition from one stage of sleep to the other, like REM, NREM, and SWS.
Food Allergies, Intolerances, and Sensitivities
When you consume foods which you’re allergic or intolerant to, your body reacts with a natural defense mechanism called inflammation. Inflammatory symptoms can bother you at any time, including when you’re sleeping.
You can experience significant congestion, which will make you feel stuffed or puffy upon waking. It can also raise your cortisol levels, which we know interferes with hormone production, including melatonin. You can also wake up feeling achy and sore throughout your body.
Clearly, this is not a good way to start the day!
If you suffer from insomnia or other sleep disorders, it can seriously affect your mood and emotional state. In fact, it can increase your chances of developing depression.
However, even if you get a solid 7 – 8 hours of sleep each night and you’re depressed, you’re not going to wake up feeling bright-eyed and bushy tailed. Instead, you can easily wake up feeling fatigued, hopeless and unmotivated for the day ahead.
This is especially true of morning depression, a symptom experienced by people suffering from a major depressive disorder.
Are You Exercising?
Daily exercise gives you more energy and stamina. It also helps your body feel more tired and ready to rest at the end of the day. If you – like most people – live a sedentary lifestyle and spend most of your day sitting at a desk, your body probably has a lot of pent-up energy.
And if you don’t work your body via healthy exercise routines, you bring all of this pent-up energy to bed with you, too.
Screen Time and Melatonin Production
Do you use your cellphone, computer, television, and tablet before going to bed? The artificial light that comes from these devices confuses your brain and makes it think that it’s still day time.
Not only does this interfere with your circadian rhythm (your body’s internal, biological clock), but it also messes with melatonin production – the sleep hormone that allows your body to rest at night.
Try to step away from your devices at least an hour before going to bed. This lets your brain know that it’s nighttime and that it should start shutting down.
Your thyroid is a gland that’s responsible for producing many different hormones. Some of these hormones control your sleepiness and appetite.
But if you have an under-performing thyroid, or hypothyroidism, you’ll feel fatigued and lethargic even after 8 hours of sleep. Your family doctor can help you rule out hypothyroidism, and suggest ways to rebalance your sluggish thyroid.
Getting 8 hours of sleep doesn’t always guarantee quality rest. If you’re still tired when you wake up each morning, consider these 9 reasons and start improving your sleep as soon as possible.