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Why Do I Wake Up Tired?  5 Reasons You Can Get Enough Sleep and Still Be Sleepy



It can be so frustrating to get a full night’s sleep and still wake up tired.  For those of us who are trying to re-prioritize our lives around a healthy sleep schedule and ensure we get all the sleep we need, waking up tired after all that effort feels like it was all for nothing.  While you may be waking up tired because you are sleep deprived, there may be another less obvious reason for your grogginess.  Here are 5 reasons you may be waking up tired, no matter how many hours you sleep.

1.       Restless Legs and Limbs

If you wake up tangled in your blankets or get complaints from your partner that you are moving all night long, you may need to visit your doctor to see if you have restless leg syndrome (RLS) or periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD).   Both of these conditions can significantly disrupt your sleep.  Although doctors do not know what causes them, the effects on your quality of sleep and the amount of REM sleep you get are well known.  Start with the doctor visit and a diagnosis.  It is also important to talk to your doctor about potential underlying conditions like diabetes, thyroid conditions, anemia, and arthritis.  Discuss any medications or supplements you are taking at your doctor visit, since some medications can cause or worsen these conditions.  At home, increase your intake of leafy greens like spinach to get more vitamin B and folic acid into your diet.

2.      Acid Reflux

If you have the unfortunate luck to suffer from acid reflux, you know that the sharp, burning pain is enough to wake even the soundest sleepers.  If you have pain, it is obvious that waking up to reach for the antacids would impact the amount of sleep you get.  However, you might also be suffering from silent reflux, which interrupts your sleep without actually waking you up.  To combat this silent symptom, follow all the steps for acid reflux and heartburn relief.  Make sure you stop eating at least 2 hours before bedtime and avoid spicy, acidic, and high-fat foods at your evening meal.  Avoid taking medication like aspirin or other painkillers that can upset your stomach at bedtime, and try sleeping on your left side which seems to alleviate symptoms.

3.      Jaws and Teeth

You may be suffering from a condition called Bruxism, where you grind your teeth or clench your jaw while sleeping.  This can be a difficult condition to uncover because you are not aware it is happening while you are asleep.  If your partner complains that you grind or gnash your teeth or you frequently wake up with a stiff neck or unexplained neck pain, make an appointment with your dentist.  The signs of teeth grinding will be evident during an examination and the dentist can provide a dental appliance that will help alleviate whichever problem you are experiencing.

4.      Bathroom Visits

As we get older, hormonal changes make our bladder less able to let you sleep through the night without having to get up and take a trip to the bathroom.  As with acid reflux pain, when you actually have to get up and go, it is an obvious sign that your sleep is being disrupted.  However, the messages between brain and bladder indicating you need to use the bathroom may go back and forth without actually waking you up.  They do still disrupt your sleep however, leading to the same tired feeling as if you had gotten up several times throughout the night.  To combat this, don’t drink liquids or eat food with high liquid content for 3 hours before bedtime.   Decrease the amount of coffee and tea you drink and avoid alcohol.   Make sure the last thing you do before you get into bed is use the bathroom and it’s a good idea to check with your doctor to make sure there are no underlying problems.

5.      Circadian Rhythm

If you consistently get the amount of sleep you need and still wake up tired, feel groggy all the time, or get sleepy when you drive, your circadian rhythm may be out of synch.  This biological process helps your body know when it is daytime and when it is night.  Things like irregular sleep patterns, shift work, using a computer in bed, and sleeping with lights on can all disrupt this rhythm and impact your sleep.  Because light is the trigger that lets your body know it is day and therefore time to wake up, leaving the television on while you are sleeping, using a bright night light, or routinely sleeping during the day sends the wrong signals to your body.  Even small amounts of light can do this.  Get back on track by avoiding anything with a screen for an hour before bedtime and eliminating any light from your sleeping area.  Get up and take a walk outside first thing in the morning to help reset your rhythm.

About Valley Sleep Center:

Since 2002, Valley Sleep Center, accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, has provided Arizona with diagnostic sleep disorder testing in a home-like atmosphere, ensuring a comfortable, relaxing experience for patients.  Their Board Certified Sleep Medicine Specialists consist of experienced and knowledgeable physicians who provide expert advice across a multitude of sleep related disorders including insomnia, sleep apnea, snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, hypertension, sleepwalking, and pediatric sleep problems.  They accept most insurance plans as well as Medicare.  For more information contact Lauri Leadley at 480-830-3900; http://www.valleysleepcenter.com.


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