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Having a hard time waking up: 7 Reasons You Can’t Wake Up and How to Fix Them

7 Reasons You Can’t Wake Up and How to Fix Them

Waking up with some degree of grogginess is normal. But if you struggle to wake up, or battle sleepiness all morning long, there could be a few culprits to blame. 

And before you start spiraling, not all of them are medical conditions, and many of them can be fixed.

Below, we’ll dive into the reasons you can’t wake up and how to fix them. Plus, we’ll share how the RISE app can help you get enough sleep each night to make waking up easier to do.

Advice from a sleep doctor:

We asked our sleep advisor and medical reviewer, Dr. Chester Wu, who’s double board certified in psychiatry and sleep medicine, why people may find they can’t get up.

“You might feel like you can’t wake up because you’re sleep deprived and need more sleep overall. Try heading to bed a little earlier and see if it improves your mornings.”

Why can’t I wake up in the morning?

How to wake up more easily?

Why Can’t I Wake Up in the Morning?

Struggling to leave your bed in the morning? Here’s what could be at play.  

1. Sleep Inertia 

The RISE app can predict how long morning grogginess will last.

It’s natural to feel like you can’t wake up at first. This is due to sleep inertia. 

Sleep inertia is the groggy feeling you get right after waking up. It happens even when you’ve had enough sleep, and it can last anywhere from 15 minutes to more than two hours. 

Symptoms of sleep inertia include: 

  • Sleepiness
  • Disorientation or brain fog
  • Lowered mental performance 

Sleep inertia doesn’t just leave you feeling like you can’t wake up, your mental performance takes a hit, too. A 2019 paper said the performance impairment from sleep inertia is the same as or worse than 40 hours of sleep deprivation. 

One of our sleep advisors is Dr. Jamie Zeitzer, the co-director of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Sciences at Stanford University. He completed real-world research into sleep inertia and found people’s cognitive performance (measured through the speed of keystrokes and click interactions on a search engine) was lower during the first two hours after waking.  

Once sleep inertia faded, people’s performance was at its best and then slowly got worse until they’d been awake for about 16 hours — usually the time people head to bed. 

Here’s Dr. Zeitzer’s best advice for overcoming sleep inertia: 

Sleep inertia can make it feel like you can’t wake up, even when you’ve had enough sleep. Try getting out in sunlight, having a cup of coffee, and getting some exercise to shake off the grogginess faster.

You can’t escape sleep inertia altogether, but getting enough sleep overall will make it feel more manageable in the long run. Although, if you lost out on sleep recently and then slept for longer than usual — known as recovery sleep — you may feel more sleep inertia at first.

Want to beat sleep inertia at its own game? RISE can predict how long your sleep inertia is expected to last each morning. We call this your “grogginess zone.” With a rough idea of timings, you can schedule your day to match. 

For example, try doing easy tasks during your grogginess zone — like a morning routine, household chores, or admin — and schedule hard tasks, like a work report, for when sleep inertia has passed. Try giving yourself about 90 minutes in the morning before you have to be “on.”

Expert tip: Sleep inertia may hit you harder if you’re a night owl. One study found it took early birds 10 to 20 minutes to get over sleep inertia, whereas it took about 30 minutes for night owls. If you’re a later riser, give yourself more time in the morning before you need to be “on.” 

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to see their upcoming energy peaks and dips on the Energy screen.

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2. Sleep Debt 

Sleep debt is the measure of how much sleep you owe your body. It’s compared against your sleep need, the genetically determined amount of sleep you need. 

If you need eight hours of sleep each night, but you’ve only been getting six hours recently, you’ll have built up sleep debt. 

Sleep debt can make sleep inertia feel worse and last longer. And it can lead to low energy all day long, not just when you first wake up.  

What we know about sleep need: When we looked at the sleep needs of 1.95 million RISE users aged 24 and up, we found they ranged from five hours to 11 hours 30 minutes. The median sleep need was eight hours, but a surprising 48% of users need eight hours or more sleep a night. 

The RISE app can work out how much sleep you need.

See once and for all if you’re getting enough sleep each night. RISE can work out your unique sleep need and whether you’ve got any sleep debt. 

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to view their sleep need and here to view their sleep debt. 

3. Being Out of Sync With Your Circadian Rhythm 

Your circadian rhythm is your body’s internal clock. It helps to control your sleep cycle and when you feel sleepy and alert over a roughly 24-hour cycle.  

You can get out of sync with your circadian rhythm, and this can make it hard to wake up. 

You might be out of sync with your circadian rhythm if: 

  • You work night shifts or do rotating shift work 
  • You’ve got social jet lag — or an irregular sleep schedule (which about 87% of adults do)
  • You’re at odds with your chronotype — like a night owl on an early schedule 

Your energy levels naturally fluctuate as part of your circadian rhythm over about 24 hours. If you wake up during a low point, you’ll feel more tired than usual and may struggle to wake up. And if you wake up during deep sleep (which can happen if your sleep schedule is irregular), you may feel groggier, too. 

As well as your energy levels, the stress hormone cortisol fluctuates as part of your circadian rhythm. When everything’s running smoothly, your body produces cortisol in the morning to give you an energizing boost and help wake you up. 

But if you’re out of sync with your circadian rhythm, this can happen at the wrong time, meaning waking up will feel harder.  

This may all sound like a lot, but RISE can predict your circadian rhythm each day and show you a simple visualization. The app will show you when your body naturally wants to wake up and go to sleep. You can then try to stay in sync with these times to make mornings easier. 

Expert tip: If the times your body wants to sleep and wake up don’t match your lifestyle or work schedule, you can reset your circadian rhythm and shift the timings earlier or later. RISE’s smart schedule feature can suggest a daily bedtime that gently shifts to train your body to get enough sleep at the right times for you. 

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to see their circadian rhythm on the Energy screen.

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4. Stress and Anxiety 

Too stressed and anxious to sleep? You’re not alone. Among RISE users, stress and anxiety are the most common barriers to a good night’s sleep. Users say they struggle to fall and stay asleep because of them. 

And as we’ve covered, if you’re struggling to sleep at night, it’s going to be harder to get up the next day.

The link between anxiety and sleep goes the other way, too. Research shows if you don’t get enough sleep, your anxiety levels can go up. So you can find yourself in a vicious circle of more anxiety, more sleep loss, and more trouble waking up.

Want to break the cycle? We’ve covered tips on how to sleep with anxiety here.

Try this tonight: Psychological or cyclic sighing, which includes long exhales, can help to reduce anxiety and improve mood. A 2023 study co-authored by our advisor Dr. Jamie Zeitzer found five minutes of psychological sighing may be all it takes. 

We’ve covered how to do this breathing exercise here.

5. Mental Health Conditions 

Mental health conditions can make it hard to sleep. A 2020 study found those with anxiety disorders often have sleep problems like nighttime awakenings or shortened sleep, more light sleep, and less deep sleep. 

To make matters worse, mental health conditions like depression can rob you of motivation, meaning you may struggle to get out of bed, even when you’ve had enough sleep. And mental health issues often come with daytime sleepiness as a symptom. 

Mental health issues that can make it hard to wake up include: 

  • Depression
  • Anxiety 
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 
  • Bipolar disorder 
  • Seasonal affective disorder 

6. Sleep Disorders 

Sleep disorders can make it hard to get enough sleep each night. With this lack of sleep, you can easily build up sleep debt, and this can make you feel like you can’t wake up in the morning. 

These include: 

  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Insomnia 
  • Restless leg syndrome 
  • Periodic limb movements disorder 
  • Narcolepsy 
  • Hypersomnia (research shows those with hypersomnia feel a more severe form of sleep inertia known as sleep drunkenness)
  • Circadian rhythm sleep disorders like delayed sleep phase disorder 

Heads-up: When you try to wake up but can’t, you’re likely experiencing sleep paralysis. This is when you’re conscious but unable to move any part of your body as your muscles are temporarily paralyzed. While sleep paralysis isn’t dangerous, it can create a lot of anxiety and distress that impact sleep, even after the episode. Keep your sleep debt and anxiety low, and stay in sync with your circadian rhythm, to reduce how often sleep paralysis happens. 


Medical Conditions 

Medical conditions can either make it hard to get the sleep you need or cause morning fatigue as a symptom. 

These include: 

  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) 
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Heart disease 
  • Chronic fatigue 
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis 
  • High blood pressure 

While not medical conditions, pregnancy, menopause, and your period could be a female-specific reason you can’t wake up. Fluctuating hormones, mood changes, and pain can cause you to build up sleep debt and get out of sync with your circadian rhythm. We’ve covered more reasons for female fatigue here.

How to Wake Up More Easily?

The RISE app can guide you through 20+ sleep hygiene habits.

Here’s how you can have more energy in the morning to make waking up easier: 

  • Keep a regular sleep schedule: This will keep your circadian rhythm in check. And research shows those with a regular sleep routine feel more alert than those who don’t, even if they get the same amount of sleep.  
  • Resist the snooze button: While keeping your regular sleep pattern, don’t hit the snooze button. A 2022 sleep study found hitting snooze on your alarm clock prolongs sleep inertia compared to using a single alarm. RISE’s alarm feature can help if you’re a serial snoozer. When you turn the alarm off, RISE will send you straight to your favorite app for 15 minutes of guilt-free phone time. This will help you wake up slowly and get you through your initial sleep inertia without hitting snooze. 
  • Use the right alarm sounds: Research from 2020 shows melodic sounds as an alarm can help to reduce sleep inertia. You can choose from melodic sounds, your choice of music, and watch and phone vibrations with RISE’s alarm.
  • Lower your sleep debt: Check RISE to see how much sleep debt you have and try lowering it to make waking up easier. You can lower your sleep debt by going to bed a little earlier, sleeping in a little later, and taking afternoon naps.
  • Do some morning exercise: As hard as it can be to exercise when you feel like you can’t wake up, physical activity can help to shake off sleep inertia faster. One study found even 30 seconds of exercise can help. Exercise throughout the day can also help you wake up the next morning. A 2022 study found the more daytime physical activity people did, the more alert they felt the next morning. 
  • Get out in sunlight: Bright light exposure in the morning resets your circadian rhythm for the day and suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin. This will help wake you up in the morning and make it easier to fall asleep that night, making the next morning even easier. Aim to get 10 minutes of natural light as soon as possible after waking up. Make this 15 to 20 minutes if it’s overcast or you’re getting light through a window. 
  • Enjoy a cup of coffee: Caffeine can temporarily block the sleepiness chemical adenosine from working in your brain. It can also boost serotonin, improving your mood. Enjoy coffee in the morning, and then cut yourself off in the afternoon to make sure it doesn’t keep you up. RISE can tell you exactly when to stop drinking coffee. 
  • Eat a complex carb-rich breakfast: A 2022 study found a breakfast rich in carbohydrates that are slowly digested and absorbed was linked to higher morning alertness, whereas a high-protein breakfast was linked to lower alertness. Opt for whole grains and fruits as part of your breakfast.
  • Have a morning routine you look forward to: This could include having a cup of coffee, going for a walk with a podcast, or meditating in the garden. Try to include sleep-boosting behaviors like getting out in sunlight and exercising. Having a morning routine you enjoy can help when mental health issues make it hard to leave your bed. Remember to do easy tasks while sleep inertia is causing early morning drowsiness, and save hard tasks for when sleep inertia passes.
  • Having a relaxing bedtime routine: This will help you slow down for sleep and drift off more easily. Try reading, doing yoga, or journaling before bed. 
  • Speak to a healthcare professional: Get medical advice if you think a health problem, sleep disorder, or mental health issue could be the reason you can’t wake up. A doctor or sleep specialist can recommend the best treatment options to help, such as medication, lifestyle changes, or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

We’ve covered more tips to make getting out of bed easier here.

RISE can tell you when to do many of these sleep habits each day as part of something known as sleep hygiene, so you don’t need to keep track of them all. 

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to set up their 20+ in-app habit notifications. 

The RISE app’s Smart Alarm can help you wake up more easily.

Make Waking Up Easier Each Day

If you can’t wake up, you might be battling sleep inertia. Sleep debt and being out of sync with your circadian rhythm can also contribute to low energy in the morning — and all day long. And anxiety, mental health issues, sleep disorders, and medical conditions could also be behind your low energy. 

To make waking up easier, turn to the RISE app. RISE can tell you how much sleep debt you have, so you can see if you need to lower it, and it can predict your circadian rhythm each day, so you can work to stay in sync. 

The good news? Lowering your sleep debt and getting in sync with your body clock will boost everything from your morning energy to your productivity and overall health and wellness. 

And as 80% of RISE users get better sleep and more energy within five days, you could be waking up easier within the week. 

8 Tips to Train Yourself to Wake Up in the Morning

If your constant use of the snooze button and your morning zombie routine is getting old, there’s help. It begins with figuring out the different reasons why you can’t wake up in the morning and what to do about them.

Chances are you’re not getting enough sleep and need to tweak your bedtime routine. If a sleep disorder or other underlying condition is to blame for your morning sleepiness, there are treatments available.

We’ll cover all of that and more here so you can become one of those perky morning people.

Difficulty getting up in the morning isn’t just about loving your sleep and hating mornings. Lifestyle factors, medical conditions, and medications can make it hard to wake up. These include:

  • parasomnias, such as sleepwalking, sleep talking, and night terrors
  • sleep apnea, which causes periods of stopped breathing during sleep
  • sleep deficiency, which can involve not getting good quality sleep, or sleep deprivation, which is not getting enough sleep
  • stress and anxiety, which can interfere with your ability to fall asleep or stay asleep
  • depression, which has been linked to excessive daytime sleepiness and insomnia
  • circadian rhythm sleep disorders, which can prevent you from developing a regular sleep routine, such as shift work sleep disorder and irregular sleep-wake disorder
  • certain medications, including beta blockers, certain muscle relaxants, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants
  • chronic pain, which can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep

There are a number of things you can do to help you wake up. If an underlying condition is causing your excessive sleepiness or drowsiness in the morning, you may need a combination of home remedies and medical treatment.

The following are tips and treatments that can help you sleep better and wake up better.

Get on a sleep schedule

Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day is a must if you want to get on a good sleep schedule and train yourself to wake up early.

Figure out how much sleep you need — seven to nine hours per night is recommended — and aim to get to bed early enough so you wake up feeling refreshed.

Stick to your sleep schedule every day, including your days off, and your body will eventually begin waking up naturally.

Improve your bedtime routine

You may be sabotaging your efforts to get up early without even realizing it. Drinking caffeine in the later part of the day and using devices that emit blue light before bed can prevent you from falling asleep.

To improve your bedtime routine, try doing something relaxing before bed, such as reading or taking a warm bath. Avoid activities that’ve been shown to interfere with your circadian rhythm and cause sleeplessness, including:

  • looking at screens, like your laptop or phone
  • drinking caffeine within six hours before bedtime
  • napping or spending too much time in bed during the day
  • drinking alcohol before bed

Move your alarm to avoid hitting snooze

Tempting as that snooze button and getting “just a few more minutes” may be, falling back asleep after waking is sleep fragmentation.

According to research, sleep fragmentation increases daytime sleepiness and grogginess, decreases performance, and makes you feel run-down.

If you’re accustomed to hitting snooze, try moving your alarm away from your bed so you have to get up to turn it off.

Eat better

Eating a healthy diet increases your energy and helps you sleep better. On the flip side, foods that are generally considered unhealthy can make you feel sluggish and zap your energy.

Aim for a well-balanced diet full of foods that increase your energy, like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids.

Get regular exercise

Exercise has been proven to improve sleep and conditions that can cause insomnia and excessive sleepiness, such as anxiety and depression.

It also increases energy levels by reducing fatigue, including in people with conditions associated with chronic fatigue, according to research.

Enjoy the daylight

Daylight helps regulate your circadian rhythms and improve your sleep.

If you get some sun first thing in the morning, it can help boost your mood and energy levels for the rest of the day. Try opening your blinds as soon as you get up, having your coffee outside, or going for a short walk.

You could also try sleeping with your blinds open so you wake up to sunshine — that is, as long as it’s not too bright outside your bedroom window at night.

Gloomy day? No worries. Just turn on the lights or use a light-up alarm clock.

Get a sleep study

If you can’t get up in the mornings after trying other methods or have noticed sleep disorder warning signs, talk to a doctor about a referral to a sleep specialist.

Participating in a sleep study can help diagnose a sleep disorder that may be to blame for your morning fatigue.

Treat a sleep disorder

If you’re diagnosed with a sleep disorder, such as chronic insomnia or restless leg syndrome (RLS), treatment can help you sleep and wake up better. Treatment depends on the specific sleep disorder and might include:

  • prescription drugs, such as sleep aids or medication for RLS
  • melatonin
  • a breathing device for obstructive sleep apnea
  • behavioral therapy
  • surgery for obstructive sleep apnea

Having trouble waking up in the morning is just one sign you’re not getting enough sleep. Here are some others:

  • excessive yawning
  • irritability
  • lack of motivation
  • fatigue
  • excessive daytime sleepiness
  • brain fog
  • increased appetite

It’s possible to train yourself to wake up on time in the morning. A few changes to your routine can help you get rid of your morning fatigue so you can be up and at ’em bright and early.

If you worry that you have a sleep disorder or other medical condition that may be contributing to your morning fatigue, see a doctor.

What to do if it’s hard to wake up in the morning


What to do if it’s hard to wake up in the morning

What to do if it’s hard to wake up in the morning – RIA Novosti, 09/18/2013

9000 2 What to do if it’s hard to wake up in the morning

There are few lucky people who manage to wake up immediately at the sound of an alarm clock, get up and start the day in a cheerful state of mind. For most of us, getting up in the morning is a real challenge. Psychologist Maria Pugacheva and neurologist Vladislav Novozhilov told the portal “In Moscow” about how to make your awakening not so difficult, and maybe even pleasant.




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Prepared by the project In Moscow Groups of RIA Novosti sites >>

state of mind to start the day. For most of us, getting up in the morning is a real challenge. Psychologist Maria Pugacheva and neurologist Vladislav Novozhilov told the portal “In Moscow” about how to make your awakening not so difficult, and maybe even pleasant.

Step 1

Psychologist Maria Pugacheva: Try not to overexert your body at night so that it has time to sleep and fully recover: do not overeat at night and drink alcoholic beverages, do not spend a lot of time at the computer or watching TV before going to bed otherwise the brain will be in an excited state.

Also, in order to sleep better and feel fresh in the morning, be sure to ventilate the room before going to bed or leave the window open at night for fresh air.

Vladislav Novozhilov, a neurologist at the MedicCity clinic: To fall asleep earlier and have time to sleep, start getting ready for bed in advance: dim the lights an hour before bedtime, refrain from tea, coffee, cola and other stimulating drinks at night, complete all the tasks, requiring mental effort. You can read fiction or listen to light pleasant music. Spend time with loved ones, but do not solve serious issues at the same time.

The quality of sleep also matters. Alcohol or sleeping pills in the evening disturb our sleep. Formally, we are sleeping at the same time, and it even seems that it is sound. But the dream is incomplete. If you have such a habit, try to give it up, if necessary, consult a doctor.

Step 2

Neurologist Vladislav Novozhilov: The shape of the pillow we sleep on is of great importance – if you sleep on your stomach, the pillow should be very thin. If you sleep on your side, the pillow should be so thick that your head is at the level of the spine – then the cervical vertebrae will not move and pinch the vessels of the brain. For sleeping on your side, a pillow is easy to pick up while lying in front of a mirror.

If you sleep on your back, the pillow should be of medium thickness so that your head does not tip back or forward. If you sleep in different positions, choose a pillow for the position in which you spend most of your time. After all, a pillow should just be comfortable.

Step 3

Psychologist Maria Pugacheva: Avoid the bad habit of setting the alarm clock 15-20 minutes early, or dragging out time after its last call. All these “techniques” actually only make us nervous internally: then we begin to calculate the time, then we begin to feel sorry for ourselves, thus, getting up becomes a more painful and protracted process. Determine in advance for yourself the exact time of awakening and observe it.

Set yourself up for the fact that the most difficult thing is only the first 10-20 seconds: the alarm rings, you turn it off, come to your senses a little and get out of bed. All! And then everything will be fine – after 15-20 minutes you will no longer feel tired or heaviness – you definitely need to know this and prepare in advance. For example, immediately go to the bathroom and wash yourself with cool water, or better – take a contrast shower – it is important to stir up the body. Make yourself a coffee – it’s practically 90% guarantee that you will come to a vigorous state. Prepare yourself something especially delicious for breakfast in advance, because you should reward yourself for the feat of a difficult awakening.

Neurologist Vladislav Novozhilov: When you wake up, don’t jump up right away. First smile, then stretch, and only then get up. Do, for example, a light warm-up, but in no case a heavy exercise – in the morning the body is not yet ready for heavy loads. Turn on bright lights. Put on some fun music.

How to wake up easily. Somnologist advises

Somnologist Maria Ovsyannikova told how to forget about sticky eyes, drowsiness and morning sickness once and for all.

Step 1. Prepare your bed

To wake up easily, you need to prepare for sleep correctly. To begin with: a place to sleep should be comfortable – without voids and height differences, not cramped, with linen without hard folds. The room should be dark: make sure that the light sources do not interfere with sleep.

  • See also: What gadgets will help improve sleep? Top most useful devices from AliExpress

Step 2. We remove the phone half an hour before bedtime

Put the phone aside half an hour before bedtime. The flickering of the screen makes it difficult to fall asleep: the body thinks that it is still day outside the window. Devote the last half hour before going to bed to meditation, plans for the future, pleasant memories. It is better to go to bed before midnight – it will be easier to wake up. In no case should you eat up before going to bed: then sticky eyes and a feeling of weakness in the morning will be provided to you.

  • On this topic: Eat at night, fight on the Internet! Bad advice on how to definitely not get enough sleep

Step 3. After waking up – breathe and stretch

The first minutes after waking up are an important time. Set your alarm 5-10 minutes early so you don’t rush. Lying in bed, take a few deep breaths in and out. Pull your joints. Massage your earlobes, head, fingers. Get up slowly, without sudden movements.

The body needs time to switch from sleep to work. If you immediately jump out of bed, then the day can begin with a headache, pressure surges, pain in the joints and back. Plus, you will take a bad mood and a feeling of “lack of sleep” out of bed with you.

  • For those who no longer have the strength: 9 tips on how to overcome fatigue and regain energy curtains. Sunlight blocks the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Thanks to the light, all body systems receive a signal that it is time to wake up. And it is for this reason that it is so difficult to get up on cloudy days when there is little light and no sun.

    Step 5. We plan time so as to do things without haste

    “Easy awakening is a matter of the correct mode, settings and attitude. Train yourself to go to bed and wake up at the same time. The body will get used to these hours: getting up in the morning will be easier. Plan your time so that you don’t rush in the morning. The lack of stress, the ability to lie in bed after the alarm – all this will help to forget about morning sleepiness.

    • See also: How to stop being late? A short guide to help you become punctual

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    Calming collection

    Natural remedy based on the roots of valerian, motherwort, oregano and sweet clover.