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Feel Foggy in the Morning? Here’s How Long It Really Takes to Wake Up

A woman asleep on her laptop.
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If you wake up in the morning and feel like you’re in a fog, you’re not alone. There’s a term for this: sleep inertia.

Sleep inertia is the lag your brain experiences when your rest is interrupted, like when your alarm goes off. While it’s happening, you can experience everything from drowsiness to cognitive impairment. As long as you’re in a state of sleep inertia, you won’t feel completely awake.

Dr. Daniel Barone, sleep expert and author of Let’s Talk About Sleep, explained that the body and brain take time to move into a fully active state.

According to a 2019 review, it can take some people up to an hour to get over the inertia and have their brains working at full power. For most, though, it takes about half an hour for sleep inertia to end, and your brain to kick into gear.

There are some ways to combat sleep inertia, though, if you feel like it’s lasting too long.

First, plan ahead and reserve some time in your morning routine to allow yourself to wake up. Whether that’s a few moments to journal in bed or meditate, give yourself at least 30 minutes before any work needs to be done.

Philips SmartSleep Wake-up Light

Try a more gentle wake up than that old blaring alarm clock.

Barone also recommended keeping your sleep schedules similar. Going to sleep and waking up around the same time each day (and getting seven to eight hours of sleep) can help align your sleep and your body’s circadian rhythms to prevent deprivation.

Finally, sunlight can stop your body’s melatonin production, so stepping outside first thing in the morning might be the trick to propel yourself out of inertia.

If you struggle with some major morning brain fog, it might be time to create a new routine or invest in a sun-mimicking wake-up light.

[Via Well + Good]

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is an Atlanta-based writer who has written about everything from whether Crisco is a good moisturizer to how to KonMari your space. Her work has appeared in Bustle, My First Apartment, and Make It Grateful. Read Full Bio »

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