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Tips for revving up groggy mornings

We’d like to wake you up to a problem that many people have even after they’ve had a good night’s sleep. 

Have you heard of sleep inertia? It’s the mental fog that keeps many of us from feeling sharp and alert first thing in the morning. Experts say it takes the brain time to get up to speed after you first wake up.* 

How can you avoid sleep inertia? While it may not be possible to prevent it completely, there are some actions you can take to help get you rising and shining. 

Get into a routine 

Dr. Allison Harvey of Golden Bear Sleep Research Clinic at UC Berkeley advises going to bed and waking at about the same time each day. This helps set the body’s internal clock, and may help reduce sleep inertia. 

If you need an alarm, choose wisely 

Choose an alarm that wakes you without causing confusion or fright. A buzzer may startle you. Loud music may do the same. There are many alarm systems on the market today: subtle lights, nature sounds and more. And there are lots of smartphone apps that make it easy to wake to your favorite light music or other gentle sounds. 

Hands off the snooze button 

It may feel like hitting the snooze button will help that tired, fuzzy feeling. But the opposite may actually be true.** Why? Using snooze gives your brain mixed signals about whether or not it’s time to get up. 


Dr. Harvey also recommends the R.I.S.E. U.P. method of waking up in the morning:*

  • Resist the urge to hit the snooze button
  • Increase your activity for the first hour
  • Shower or wash your face right away
  • Expose yourself to sunlight
  • Upbeat music — turn some on
  • Phone a friend to boost your alertness 

Use room-darkening shades wisely 

Do you live in the country or someplace else where it’s very dark at night? If so, you may want to use regular shades and curtains rather than the types that shut out all light. Why? Your body responds to light and dark. Waking to natural light helps you maintain a regular sleep cycle. There are even some alarm systems that use light to wake you, since light is a cue for the body to become alert. 

If you live in the city or somewhere with a lot of light pollution, the opposite may be true. Room-darkening shades can help shut out things like streetlights. And this means you’ll go to sleep faster and get better rest. 


* Hitti, Miranda. Morning Grogginess Worse Than No Sleep. Accessed February 2018.

** Harvey, Allison. Sleep Smarter: Evidence-Based Tips. The Graduate Assembly. Accessed February 2018. 

Need help with creating and sticking with healthy habits like stressing less and sleeping better? The Attain app helps you go beyond fitness by rewarding you for taking care of your health. Plus, you can earn points for hitting daily and weekly activity goals. Download today in the App Store. 

This material provides a general overview of the topic. Health information is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment by a therapist, physician or other health care professional. Contact a health care professional with any questions or concerns about specific health care needs.