Sleep inertia is the feeling of grogginess and incomplete awakening that reduces your ability to perform even simple tasks. Part of your body is, in fact, still asleep. Sleep inertia can happen both when you wake up from a night‚Äôs sleep, or when you wake up from a nap in the wrong stage of sleep. If you wake up in the wrong stage of sleep ‚Äì slow wave sleep ‚Äì then your sleep inertia will be most severe.
What is Sleep Inertia: The Symptoms
Sleep inertia symptoms include grogginess, dizziness, lack of motor control, trouble standing or sitting, disorientation and confusion. Symptoms usually last from 15 to 30 minutes after waking, but in certain cases have lasted as long as four hours. During this time period, memory, reaction time, alertness and the ability to perform analytical tasks are not in proper working order.
What is Sleep Inertia: The Cost
Sleep inertia does come with a cost. During it, you are at a reduced level of capacity and may have trouble doing the simplest of tasks like brushing your teeth or combing your hair. The reason for your lack of coordination and why simple chores feeling impossible is that your prefrontal cortex takes awhile to get going.
How to Combat Sleep Inertia
Combatting sleep inertia is not as easy as you may think. The best way to do so is to get enough rest; not getting enough will increase your chances of having a longer and more intense inertia period. Typically a sleep cycle lasts for 90 minute increments, meaning that after 90 minutes you‚Äôll be ready to start the next sleep cycle. That way, you know that in order to be ready to wake up at your ideal time, you should try to plan how many 90-minute sleep cycles you need. You can do this by adjusting your wake-up time so that it falls seven and a half to nine hours after you go to sleep, which will wake you up at the end of your sleep cycle rather than in the middle and cause less disruption.
Now that you can answer the question of what is sleep inertia and identify the symptoms and how to combat them, you can start sleeping better tonight and waking up more refreshed tomorrow!