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What makes you wake up instantly?

Why You Wake Up in the Night (And How to Stop)

If you wake up every night at 3 a.m. to use the bathroom and get a glass of water before falling back asleep — this likely isn’t for you. In fact, it’s normal to wake up during the night, even for the deepest sleepers.

But if you wake up every night hours before your morning alarm and find yourself staring at the ceiling, doomscrolling through the internet, or getting into the triple digits when you’re counting sheep, there could be some bigger reasons why you can’t get back to sleep.

6 reasons why you’re waking up

Everyone is different, but health conditions, aging, environment, diet and medications are common reasons that could keep someone from falling asleep after waking up.

You have a health condition or illness (or you’re pregnant)

From the common cold to lung disease, many health conditions can interrupt sleep. Anything from bad heartburn to an itchy rash could jolt you awake from even the deepest sleep.

However, in some cases, waking up at night could be a symptom of a serious sleep disorder: Sleep apnea. «It can cause people to wake up snoring and gasping,» says Dr. Martha Billings, a sleep specialist at the Sleep Medicine Center at Harborview Medical Center.

When you have sleep apnea, there are moments during sleep when your breathing will pause for a brief time as your airway narrows and can close off. Those gasping moments happen when you wake up to breathe. If you experience symptoms of sleep apnea, it’s important to see a doctor for treatment, since sleep apnea can be associated with other conditions like an irregular heartbeat, stroke or high blood pressure.

Also, if you’re pregnant, expect a lot of sleep interruptions. Pregnancy can cause sleep disruption due to the effects of the growing fetus, says Billings.

You’re anxious or depressed

If you struggle with a mental health condition, that can also significantly affect your sleep.

“Most mood disorders such as anxiety and depression impact sleep and can cause insomnia, delay the time it takes to fall asleep and cause lighter sleep,” says Billings.

You’re aging

As you age, you might find that falling and staying asleep is more difficult than it used to be.

You could blame the lost sleep on life stress or upcoming bills (which would be true), but our bodies are constantly changing, which can bring unexpected shifts in our sleep quality.

“As we age, our sleep tends to be more fragmented and less deep,” says Billings. “Perimenopause can disrupt sleep due to hot flashes and other hormonal changes.”

Your environment is noisy

Unsurprisingly, what’s happening around you can also impact your sleep. Whether you have kids who love to wake up for a midnight snack, a noisy neighbor who enjoys vacuuming at 2 a.m. or a pet who snores, it can be tough to drift back to sleep.

However, your environment isn’t only what you can see and hear: The way your room feels and what’s happening around you can also play a part in your comfort level.

“Poor air quality, excess heat and noise may also impact sleep,” says Billings. “People sleeping closer to the water and with tree canopy have better sleep. Keeping your bedroom cool, quiet and dark helps sleep. Sometimes white or brown noise can help if your environment is noisy. Heavy curtains can block out extra light.”

You’re eating or drinking too close to bedtime

It’s true — what you eat or drink before bed can greatly impact your sleep for the night.

“Stimulants too close to bedtime such as caffeine via coffee, chocolate, black or green tea can delay sleep,” says Billings. “Folks prone to reflux may also have more heartburn if eating heavy meals close to bedtime.”

We know it’s tempting, but try to keep away from the espresso shots a minimum of six hours before bed. Teas that don’t have caffeine like chamomile, ginger or peppermint are great options if you still want to enjoy a warm drink at the end of the day, and some say it can help with sleep, too.

And yes, an occasional night out or after-dinner wine at home is OK, but keep in mind that alcohol is a big culprit in the sleep disturbance space.

What makes someone fake?

“Alcohol can severely disrupt sleep,” says Billings. “It can worsen sleep apnea significantly. While it can shorten the time it takes for you to fall asleep, as it is metabolized, it can lead to early awakenings and more fragmented sleep.”

You’re taking medication

“Lots of medications impact sleep,” says Billings. “Some are sedating and can make you fall asleep more quickly, like Benadryl. Some can delay sleep and are more stimulating, like Sudafed.”

Be mindful of the side effects of any medications you take and consider the best time of day to take them.

Tips to help you stay asleep

If you find it difficult to stay asleep because of certain medications, pregnancy or health conditions, you’ll want to work closely with your doctor to determine the best steps to get some rest.

Here are some tips in the meantime that might help, regardless of where you are:

  • Avoid heavy meals, alcohol and stimulants (coffee or smoking) close to bedtime
  • Exercise daily, but not too close to bedtime
  • Do a relaxing activity before bed to unwind and prepare your mind for sleep

If you wake up and can’t fall back asleep after 15-20 minutes:

  • Get out of bed and do a relaxing activity such as reading, listening to soft music or meditation
  • Avoid bright lights and screens
  • Go back to bed when you feel sleepy again

“It’s normal to have some poor nights of sleep from time to time,” says Billings. “If you have issues with poor sleep for longer than a few weeks, with waking up often or having prolonged insomnia, talk to your doctor.”

Take the Next Step

  • Learn how napping in measured doses can be good for you.
  • Find out why melatonin overdose is rising.
  • Here are seven ways to get better sleep.

How to Stay Awake at Work: Staying Productive When You Didn’t Get Enough Sleep

A sleepless night can impact your work and personal life. How do you stay productive the day after a sleepless night?

Having trouble sleeping at night?

Even though you may have had a sleepless night, you may still need to have a productive day. Learning how to keep yourself awake following a night of lost sleep, requires you to learn which of the following methods your body best responds to. 1

  1. Good night, sleep tight!
    Consider your usual night’s sleep: do you sleep like a rock, or do you wake up throughout the night? If you wake up a lot, make sure your sleeping environment is free of lights, sounds and changes in temperature. And limit use of smartphones, computers, and the TV before bedtime Digital devices like these can stimulate your mind and keep you awake instead of asleep.
  2. Stay hydrated
    While coffee or tea can help jumpstart your day, too much can dehydrate you or make you restless. A good way to stay awake without caffeine is to drink low or no calorie fluids, such as water or herbal tea. Fluids help your circulatory system and get your blood flowing. If you have a headache from too much caffeine, fluids can help relieve it.
  3. Splash your face with cold water
    A splash of cold water over your face will draw your circulation upward, toward your head, temporarily renewing your energy, making you feel more awake.
  4. Reduce your sugar intake
    Eating sugar is often thought to be one of the best ways to stay awake. But it’s actually best to avoid sugar when you’re tired. It causes blood sugar spikes – which is a spurt of high energy followed by very low energy, which can leave you feeling sleepy.
  5. Interrupt your work routine with regular breaks
    If you’re experimenting with how to stay awake at work, try interrupting boring or uninteresting tasks by working for 25 minutes at a time, followed by a 5-minute break. The variety will help you stay awake longer, and may make you more productive. Get up and move around during your break to get your blood flowing.
  6. Connect with a friend
    One of the best ways to stay awake is to do so with others. Focus your mind on something else by talking with a friend or co-worker.
  7. Keep your space cool
    A warm room can make you tired, and a cool room does the opposite! Crack a window for a refreshing breeze to keep your blood flowing and your energy level up.
  8. Put on some tunes
    Use music to help wake up your senses. It can also distract you and take your mind off feeling tired.
  9. Take a walk
    A walk can help bring blood flow to your muscles and wake them up. A change of scenery is also likely to reduce fatigue by inspiring new ideas and even sparking creativity.
  10. Massage
    You can give yourself a jolt of energy by lightly massaging select pressure points on your body. Key areas include: the back of your neck, between your thumb and index finger, behind your knees and just below the balls of your feet.
What other illnesses mimic fibromyalgia?

When you’re at work and need to stay awake, give these tips a try. Make sure to aim for quality rest, as a general rule. If your fatigue and sleeplessness continue talk to your health care provider for guidance.


Sleep Natural Remedies


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Back to Knowledge Center

1 10 Tips to Stay Awake at Work without Coffee, Health Plus, March 29, 2021,

This article is general health information and not medical advice or services. You should consult your doctor for medical advice or services, including seeking advice prior to undertaking a new diet or exercise program.

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How to Wake Up and Feel Good As Soon As Possible

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It’s normal not to feel your best the moment you open your eyes. Read on for tips on how to wake up and escape your grogginess zone ASAP.

Written by
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Published sleep expert helping everyone get more sleep and energy with the RISE app
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We bring sleep research out of the lab and into your life. Every post begins with peer-reviewed studies — not third-party sources — to make sure we only share advice that can be defended to a room full of sleep scientists.

Updated Regularly

We regularly update our articles to explain the latest research and shifts in scientific consensus in a simple and actionable way.


Woman in bed waking up and feeling good.

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Waking up early in the morning isn’t everyone’s favorite thing to do — except for the morning people, maybe. Many of us, though, can probably relate to hitting snooze rather than getting right out of bed.

But rise and shine doesn’t have to be the start of an ultra-sleepy morning routine. While it’s true that we can’t wake up and feel amazing immediately, there are things you can do to jumpstart your body and feel human ASAP.

Below, we look at proven tips on how to wake up, as well as the two cornerstones of waking up well, feeling good, and having energy throughout the day — sleep debt and circadian rhythm.

Misleading Ads Overlook Sleep Inertia

If you’ve heard of sleep inertia, you know it’s impossible to wake up in the morning and instantly feel good. Unlike some ads proclaim, we don’t jump out of bed brimming with energy.

Instead, your body undergoes sleep inertia the moment you wake up. It’s an integral aspect of your sleep cycle, thanks to the lingering effects of adenosine (a chemical in your brain that induces drowsiness).

Morning sleep inertia is a period of sleepiness and reduced cognition. In the RISE app, we call it your «grogginess zone.”

Don’t Do Important Work In the First 90 Minutes

Morning sleep inertia is invariably linked to low energy levels, which can last up to 90 minutes. That’s why RISE offers a sleep quality check-in 1.5 hours after you’ve woken up. It’s a more accurate estimate of how you’re feeling that day.

Since sleep inertia is synonymous with poor decision-making, cognition, and performance, we recommend putting off your most important work until you’re clear of the grogginess zone. Try not to schedule vital tasks that require peak cognitive functioning during this window of time, say a job interview or an important conversation with a loved one.

If scheduling your workday isn’t within your control, wake up earlier than usual to give your brain enough time to get up to speed. Set your alarm clock at least 90 minutes before the task. To compensate for the new wake-up time and not build up sleep debt, go to bed earlier the night before or bring forward that day’s bedtime routine. Short afternoon naps also help pay down your sleep debt and counter daytime sleepiness.

Everyone Experiences Sleep Inertia When Waking Up

The truth about sleep inertia is, it’s an inescapable part of the human sleep cycle and happens to everyone.

You should also know sleep inertia will manifest no matter if you’ve had enough sleep or not. Whether last night was your best sleep ever or you’ve woken up several times in the middle of the night, you’ll likely still feel groggy in the morning.

Of course, sleep inertia won’t be as intense if you have low sleep debt as when you’re sleep-deprived.

How to Wake Up and Feel Good, Even With Sleep Inertia

How to wake up: A person reaches their arms into the air while under the covers in bed

Morning sleep inertia may be inevitable, but there are ways to minimize it. Below, learn the techniques for how to wake up in a way that sets you up for a productive day.

Resist Sleeping In Too Much

Let it be said that not hitting snooze when you really want to is one of the hardest things in life. Yet, that act of self-discipline pays off when you want to wake up and feel good as quickly as possible.

Drockling — repeated hitting of the snooze button — encourages sleep fragmentation and increases daytime sleepiness. Instead of kicking off the heavy cover of sleep inertia, you may be intensifying and prolonging its effects.

Rather than give in to the urge to snooze, we recommend placing your alarm clock far from your bed, preferably at the other end of the room. This encourages you to get out of bed in the morning when it goes off.

What is the sweetest taste on earth?

Science also shows replacing the conventional beep with melodic sounds may help reduce sleep inertia to wake up better.

Still, it’s important to pay down your sleep debt when you can. RISE calculates the exact amount of sleep your body needs, which varies from person to person thanks to your unique biology. Catch up on lost sleep by going to bed earlier. If that’s not doable, sleep in on your weekends and days off. As long as you wake up within an hour of your regular wake time, you’ll still be keeping your circadian rhythm steady for better sleep overall.

The takeaway here is to use your best judgment based on how much sleep debt you currently carry and how you feel during the day.

Let In Bright Light

Bright light — natural light is best — signals to your internal clock that it’s time to wake up in the morning. Exposure to sunlight suppresses melatonin production, making you less sleepy in the morning.

Plus, warm sunshine gently raises your core body temperature, which is another circadian cue to wake up.

Lastly, bright light boosts your body’s concentrations of cortisol (a hormone that encourages alertness) and serotonin (a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and will later convert to melatonin when sleep is needed). This infuses you with feel-good vibes to start your day on a positive note.

P.S. — If sunlight isn’t available when you wake up, research shows artificial dawn light significantly downplays sleep inertia.

Drink Coffee at the Right Time

If you Google «how to wake up,» caffeine almost always pops up in the search results. But is there any truth to it?

According to science, caffeine blocks the adenosine receptors in your brain and protects you from the worst of sleep inertia. So yes, a cup of coffee (or two) helps you wake up as quickly as your biology allows.

Unfortunately, caffeine also has long-lasting effects as it stays in your system for up to 10 hours. RISE’s Limit Caffeine reminder helps you track how late you should stop drinking coffee to prevent it from disrupting your sleep routine.

Work Out

Regular exercise doesn’t just keep your body fit and healthy; it also diminishes sleep inertia to wake you up more quickly. In fact, research indicates exercise is an important circadian cue to fine-tune your internal clock. Plus, working up a sweat is the best way to increase your body temperature and shake off the last of the grogginess.

Pro Tip: Combine your workout with sunlight to get the best of both circadian cues. Go for a morning stroll outside or relocate your exercise mat to the backyard.

Shower in Cold Water

Another option to help you wake up in the morning is to take a cold shower.

Scientific literature indicates cold water spikes your heart rate, blood pressure, and metabolism to wake up your cells. A small study also discovered that cold water has anti-depressive abilities to put you in a better mood.

Pro Tip: If you aren’t up to dunking your body under freezing cold water first thing in the morning, splash some on your face instead.

Wake-Up Cornerstones: Sleep Debt and Circadian Alignment

RISE app screenshot showing sleep debt breakdown.

Now, let’s take a closer look at how sleep debt and circadian rhythm independently — and synergistically — influence your wake-up and feel-good process.

Keep Your Sleep Debt in Check

Sleep debt directly relates to sleep inertia, and ultimately, your ability to wake up in the morning and feel great as soon as humanly possible.

Your sleep debt is a running total of how many hours of sleep you’ve missed relative to your sleep need over the past 14 days. To better explain sleep debt’s influence on your morning routine, we’ll use the following scenario of what happens during high sleep debt.

High sleep debt worsens sleep inertia. Not only is it more difficult for you to wake up in the morning, but you may also feel groggier for longer. The negative impacts of high sleep debt also extend to the rest of the day — your energy dips feel more profound, contributing to reduced productivity and increased moodiness.

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To feel as good as you can in the morning (and throughout the day), keep your sleep debt low. RISE clues you in on your running sleep debt to ensure you’re getting the right amount of sleep each night.

Besides getting enough shut-eye, a consistent sleep schedule is also integral to minimizing sleep debt. This is where your circadian rhythm comes into the spotlight.

Circadian Alignment Is Key

Your circadian rhythm influences your chronotype, sleep habits, and energy fluctuations, all of which majorly contribute to how you feel when you wake up.

Think of your circadian rhythm as an internal clock that tells you when to sleep and when to wake up. In other words, it determines your chronotype — whether you’re a morning person, a night owl, or somewhere in between.

Work, school, and other societal demands are common disruptors of our natural circadian rhythm, resulting in circadian misalignment. Late sleep times and early wake times inevitably raise your sleep debt to unhealthy levels.

Inconsistent bed and wake times — coupled with modern stressors and prolonged light exposure — throw your dim light melatonin onset (DLMO) off-balance. The DLMO indicates the start of your Melatonin Window, which is when your brain secretes peak levels of the hormone melatonin to promote sleep, making it the best time for you to go to bed. Missing or shifting your DLMO means you have less melatonin to work with, which increases sleep latency and fragmentation, making it harder for you to fall asleep and stay asleep. As a result, you accumulate more sleep debt. Eventually, your physical health and psychological wellness also deteriorate.

Going against your biological clock and inborn sleeping preferences ultimately makes you feel more tired than if you had adhered to them. After all, your circadian rhythm dictates how much energy you have and when you have energy during the day.

The solution: Work with your circadian rhythm and chronotype to avoid circadian misalignment, and keep sleep debt low. In other words, try to sleep when your body tells you to. A consistent sleep schedule is key to circadian alignment. If you’re new to the concept of circadian rhythm, you may not know how to track your optimum sleep and wake-up times. This is where RISE comes in handy.

How to Wake Up Better With RISE

RISE app screenshot of the melatonin window that tells you the best time to sleep.

RISE uses science-based research, recent sleep-wake times, and daily activities to estimate your personal Melatonin Window.

  • Look for “Melatonin Window” in the Energy tab. It will show you the window of time when your body produces optimal melatonin to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
  • Aim to hit the sack at the start of this window to align with your body’s circadian rhythm. Since it’s your Melatonin Window, you’re primed to fall asleep faster and have more restful slumber to reduce sleep debt.
  • To make your entry into dreamland more seamless, carry out your wind-down routine 1-2 hours before bed. Slowing down your mind and relaxing your body sets you up for more sleep success.
  • Next, plan your wake-up time according to your Melatonin Window and sleep need with a sufficient buffer against sleep latency and fragmentation (if possible). For instance, let’s say RISE has calculated your sleep need as 8 hours. If your Melatonin Window is between 10:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m., and you estimate you’ll need a buffer of 30-60 minutes, add your sleep need to this timing, so your alarm rings at 7:30 a.m. the next day.

Sleep Better to Wake Up on the Right Side of the Bed

Once you’ve learned how to wake up and feel good as soon as you can, you’re all set to take on the day with your most energetic self. It all starts with the two laws of sleep: managing sleep debt and playing by the rules of circadian alignment. Follow the tips and tricks throughout this guide for better sleep tonight and more energy tomorrow.

When in doubt, RISE is there to illuminate every step of your way.

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