By Christa Sgobba
Grabbing an extra hour of sleep in the morning seems like a great idea—but why does it make you feel so lousy afterward?
Blame your brain. When you awaken at the same time every day—say, your 6:00 a.m. wakeup call for work—your brain develops a specific sleep-wake schedule.
It prompts your body to rise by releasing higher levels of hormones like dopamine and by increasing your body temperature, says Christopher Winter, M.D., the sleep advisor for Men’s Health. So you’ll feel alert, energized, and rested when that time rolls around.
However, you confuse the hell out of your body when you wake up as usual, but choose to go back to sleep. Your brain doesn’t know when it should prep your body for wakeup.
As a result, you usually end up emerging again from dreamland smack within your deep sleep—or REM sleep—cycle.
“It becomes kind of like jet lag,” says Dr. Winter. “You wake up feeling kind of groggy, like you have a dull headache, maybe a bit of nausea, and lethargy—you just don’t feel like doing anything.”
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Your best bet is to resist the urge to nod back off after you wake up.
But if the lure of your bed is just too strong, you can make a slight compromise.
Set your alarm for 20 minutes, says Dr. Winter. If you fall back asleep for that amount of time, you’re unlikely to enter deep sleep, which means you should wake up feeling just as bright-eyed as you did initially.
And if you accidentally slept too long? Get out of your dark room and put some lights on, stat. Bright light tends to prod you body into wakefulness, says Dr. Winter.