For most people, fatigue and daily life seem to go hand in hand. In theory, we should divide the 24 hours in each day between work, recreation, and rest, which would leave us with 8 hours to sleep. We’re usually not so lucky, however, and our work-life-sleep balance rarely splits into perfect thirds.
With the other two sections encroaching on the third, we need to make the most of the sleep we get. Yet, it seems that factors both within and beyond our control conspire to leave us waking up each day feeling tired, disconnected, and exhausted before we’ve even begun our day. This constant fatigue is bad for your mood, productivity, and health. Here are some reasons you don’t feel well-rested in the morning—and what you can do to get the quality sleep you need.
Too Much Screen Time
We struggle all day to put our phones away, but doing so is especially important before bed. The sensory and cognitive effects of staring at a screen before you go to sleep run counter to initiating a full and healthy sleep cycle. The blue light that emanates from the computer, phone, and tablet screens tricks your body into thinking it’s absorbing daylight, which reprograms you into staying awake longer. That’s not to mention the stress, agitation, and overstimulation that attend checking work email and social media when you should be trying to unwind. If you need reading material, put down the tablet and reach for a physical book instead.
Erratic Sleep Patterns
Variety is the spice of life, but every spice doesn’t go on every dish. Your sleep pattern is one place where you don’t want variety. If you change up your hours from day to day, you’re less likely to get constructive sleep. Train your body to go to bed around the same time each night.
Undiagnosed Sleep Apnea
One of the most serious reasons you don’t feel well-rested each morning could be sleep apnea. If you’re snoring loudly and wake up tired, you could be suffering from dangerous interruptions to your breathing as you sleep. If you suspect this is the case, contact an ENT or sleep specialist.
Too Much Caffeine
The after-dinner hot coffee or tea may seem like a fine digestive aid, but it’s a terrible sleep aid. Caffeine has well-documented stimulant properties, but it’s also a diuretic, which could interrupt your sleep by sending you to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Try to refrain from caffeine three to five hours before bedtime, and switch to herbal tea after dinner.
Sleeping with the Lights On
Similarly, falling asleep in a well-lit room won’t leave you well-rested. Sleeping with the lights on will upset your melatonin levels, leaving you feeling fatigued no matter how many hours you log. Make sure to turn the lights off before you go to bed, and use blackout curtains if outside light makes them necessary.