Why do I wake up tired?

Not so long ago, I used to get 8-10 hours of sleep each night yet still have difficulty waking up with the alarm clock in the mornings.  I have heard from a few people that they have experienced a similar problem in their lives.

As a homemaker, wife and/or mother it is important for your emotional well-being that you wake up refreshed each morning, ready for the day ahead of you.  When you become grumpy, the negative energy flows into your family and your home.  You need to take care of yourself before you can start organizing your home.

In this article, I am going to discuss sleep patterns, the 90-min sleep cycle, your biological clock and give you some tips on how to get a good night’s rest.

Waking up tired

Waking up tiredYou have tried everything.  You have started eating healthy foods, you get enough exercise during the day, and you get to bed at a decent hour, but for some reason you still hit the snooze button and go back to sleep when your alarm clock goes off.

I have had this experience too.  I would go to bed before 10pm and the next morning I would struggle to get out of bed before 7am.  That is almost 9 hours of sleep!  How did other people cope going to bed later and waking up earlier?  Why was I still tired when I got up in the morning?  That is when I did a little research online about sleep cycles and sleep patterns.

90-min Sleep Cycle

The average human has a 90-min sleep cycle (give or take 20 minutes).  This means that every 90-minutes, after falling asleep, you will wake up more easily than at the peak of the cycle.

So if you fall asleep at 10pm, then the ideal times to wake-up would be 11:30pm, 1:00am, 2:30am, 4:00am, 5:30am and 7am.

I used to set my alarm for 6:00am, which was close to the peak of the sleep cycle.  That is why I would hit the snooze button, without waking up properly, until almost 7am, which is when the next 90-minute sleep cycle would be at it’s best wake-up point.

Once discovering this, I set my alarm for 5:30am and I found that I was able to wake up a little more easily.  I was getting 7.5 hours of sleep each night, but I was waking up more refreshed in the morning.

The problem came in when I went to sleep later or earlier than 10pm.  Or if the dog woke me up to be let outside at 3am.  It would disturb my sleep cycle and the whole 90-minute calculation would be out of sync, once again making it difficult to get up the following morning.

90 minute sleep cycles
90 minute sleep cycles


Sleep Bot

Disclaimer: I am not being paid for this recommendation in any way, I simply found an application that I like and that has worked for me.  There are many others on the market that behave in a similar manner.

I downloaded an application onto my android phone called SleepBot.  I love this application.  You set the alarm for the latest possible time you want to wake up (mine is usually around 6am), then you place your mobile phone on the bed next to you and hit the “going to sleep” button.  The application puts your phone into flight mode, then it monitors the movement on your bed and the sounds in your room.  Using these measurements it figures out your sleep cycle, and makes the alarm go off at the most ideal time in your sleep cycle.  Most days, my SleepBot alarm goes off between 5:15am and 5:45am.  I have found that 90% of the time I am wide awake as soon as the alarm goes off.

There are days that it isn’t perfect, but overall I have found that it works.  There are a couple of settings to play around with, for example I told it to only start recording 15 minutes after I press the “going to sleep” button, therefore allowing me 15 minutes to fall asleep.  I also set it to never wake me up more than 45 minutes before my alarm time.

trouble falling asleep

The other problem that I have faced in the past is trouble falling asleep.  There are a couple of things that I found (through experience) that cause me to struggle to fall asleep.  These include:

  • Stressful situations
  • Worry
  • Over-active mind
  • Too warm or too cold
  • Mosquito’s
  • Lack of exercise during the day
  • Unhealthy foods

Once I eliminated these problems I found that the only thing that stopped me from falling asleep was because I was too awake at the time I planned to sleep.

Your Natural Biological cycle

It is a good idea to take a look at the natural body cycle.  You will find that Melatonin usually starts being secreted around 9pm and it stops around 7:30am (depending on the person).  You will also notice that when your body temperature has reached it’s highest point (normally around 7pm) and begins to drop you will begin feeling relaxed, and when it reaches it’s lowest point (normally around 4:30am) you will start wanting to wake up.

9 Tips For Falling Asleep

Have you ever been camping, where you were away from most electric lights?  You may have found that by the time the sun had set you were ready for sleep, and you may also have found that you were awake the moment the sun rose again.  This is because the levels of light we are exposed to tell our brains to start secreting Melatonin.  Here are some tips for helping you to fall asleep:

  1. Routine: This is the most important, if you don’t follow anything else, you need to follow this one.  Make sure that you always go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning.  Even on the weekends!  Over the course of a few weeks your body will naturally start feeling sleepy at bed time and wake up more easily in the morning.
  2. Dim the lights:  An hour before you want to fall asleep turn down the lights in your house.  I use bedside lamps with a darkly coloured lamp shade.  This gives you enough light to see, but also tricks your brain into thinking it is sunset.  The best is to use candle light or an oil lamp, but if you do this, please be careful about curtains and any animals or small children who may knock it over.
  3. Switch off all screens:  An hour before you want to fall asleep turn off all screens.  This includes cell-phones, tablets, computers, TV’s and anything else that lets off an artificial light.  You can leave your phone on, just don’t use it.
  4. Watch what you eat: There are a couple of foods that improve your sleep, and others that disturb it.  Here are some of the foods that help you sleep like a baby.
  5. Listen to your mind:  At times I struggle to turn my mind off as I keep thinking about certain things that I am worried or stressed about.  It is very important (for emotional health reasons) to listen to what is going on in your mind.  I find it helpful to keep a journal next to my bed.  When I can’t seem to turn my brain off I start writing everything that is going on inside of it.  I have found that once I have listened to my mind, created an action plan or at the very least promised myself that I will spend an hour or two reflecting on the problem in the morning, then I can usually lay the problem to rest and go to sleep
  6. Listen to your body:  You may find that your body is wide awake but your mind is tired.  This is evidence that you didn’t get enough exercise during the day, or you have eaten something that has woken your body up.  Stretches are a brilliant muscle relaxation (so is sex), so do something that relaxes your muscles.
  7. Take a shower or bath: Water has a calming effect on a person.  It also raises your body temperature.  Once your maximum body temperature is reached and starts dropping again, you will normally begin to feel sleepy.
  8. Routine! I said it at the beginning, and I will say it again.  Create yourself a before bed routine.  If you start by turning off all screens and dimming the lights at 8:30pm, then take a nice bath, rub yourself with lotion, pick out tomorrow’s clothes, hop into bed with some chamomile tea, write your thoughts in your journal and maybe read a relaxing (or boring) book, then I am sure you will be ready to sleep by 10pm.
  9. Bedroom BlessingThe last tip is something I learned from a daily devotional.  A man had trouble sleeping, so one day he started blessing his bedroom, bed and pillow before he went to sleep each night.  After a week he found that he started sleeping better, and continued to say the blessing.  A few months later he went on holiday and had a friend house sit for him, the friend slept in his bedroom.  When he got home, the friend asked:

    “Where did you get that bed and pillow? It was the most comfortable sleep I have had in years!”

    I have a bedroom blessing typed out.  Every morning as I make the bed I say the bedroom blessing out loud.  There is one thing I have noticed since I started doing this, the noise of the dance club and bar next door doesn’t bother my husband and myself nearly as much as it used to.

Bedroom Blessing
Bedroom Blessing

Did I forget something?

Do you know of an application that works better than SleepBot for recording sleep cycles?  Is some of my information incorrect?  Or do you have some additional tips for falling asleep that I didn’t mention?  I would love to hear from you in a comment!


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