The reasons why you’re struggling to wake up in the morning

Not getting enough sleep can leave you feeling tired and low on energy, but it’s not the only reason why you may be feeling sluggish in the mornings. Unsurprisingly, what you eat and drink throughout the day can affect how you feel, too. 

Tired woman

Here Dr Luke Powles, Associate Clinical Director for Bupa Health Clinics, shares his insight into why you may be waking up feeling tired. 

You’re not sleeping enough

Making sure your body gets enough rest is important, as you need it to be able to function properly. If you’re not getting enough sleep – or if you find yourself waking up during the night – it’s likely you’ll wake up feeling groggy. The amount of sleep we need varies for everyone, but as a general guide, most adults will need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. 

It’s understandable that you may feel anxious or worried at the moment. If you find your sleep is being affected, there are a few ways to help. Make sure you’re going to bed and waking up each night around the same time, try to follow a relaxing bedtime ritual and try writing down what’s on your mind before bed, particularly if you’re feeling anxious. If, after a few weeks, you’re still struggling with your sleep, speak to your GP, as they should be able to help. 

You’re stressed

The stress of daily life can leave our bodies feeling exhausted. If you’re feeling stressed, it’s likely your sleep will be impacted, and this can leave you feeling low on energy. 

Speaking about how you’re feeling to a person you trust can act as a release, whether it’s opening up to a loved one, friend or colleague. You may also find it useful to speak to your doctor about how you’re feeling as they may be able to offer you some guidance. Sometimes, speaking to a counsellor or therapist can be useful, too.

You’re dehydrated

Not drinking enough water can cause you to feel fatigued. As a basic guide, you should aim for around one and a half, to two litres of fluid a day (about eight to 10 glasses). If you’re waking up feeling light-headed or tired, you may not be drinking enough throughout the day. Dehydration can occur easily if you’ve been out in the sun or if you’ve drunk too much alcohol the night before. 

There’s not enough iron in your diet

If you’re waking up feeling tired on a regular basis, you may not be consuming enough iron. Check your diet and see if it includes plenty of iron-rich foods: red meat like beef and lamb, shellfish, eggs, bread, dark green vegetables like kale and cereals are all good examples of foods to include in your diet.

If you’re continuing to wake up feeling tired for a few weeks after you’ve changed your diet and think it’s because of not getting enough iron, you should seek advice from your GP or nutrition professional who may be able to run tests to investigate the cause of tiredness. 

Ring doughnut

You’re consuming too much sugar

The more sugar you consume, the sleepier you will feel. You may even wake up during the night, as sugar can affect how much deep sleep you have. To avoid this, cut back on refined sugars (these are often found in fizzy drinks and desserts) and swap them for a healthier alternative. White bread, white rice and regular pasta also have refined sugars in – why not swap these with the whole grain alternatives? 

You’re not getting enough omega-3

Whilst there’s more research needed, some studies have shown that omega-3 acids – which are found mainly in fish and leafy greens – can provide a natural mood-booster. If your mood is affecting your sleep, for example, if you’re feeling stressed, worried or anxious, try to include foods rich in omega-3 acids. 

Your diet is missing key nutrients

Eating food from a variety of food groups to get the right nutrients your body needs is an essential part of following a healthy, well-balanced diet. It’s important to keep your diet varied to ensure you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals your body needs. Not only will a balanced diet leave you feeling healthier, but there’s also good evidence that it can reduce your risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease

If you’re struggling to achieve good quality sleep, taking a look at your diet and lifestyle is important. Remember, if you want to make changes to your diet, it’s always best to consult your GP or nutrition professional before doing so.

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Written by Dr Luke Powles
Dr Luke Powles, Associate Clinical Director for Bupa Health Clinics.
Written by Dr Luke Powles
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