why do you feel so gross after naps?

I pretty much take a nap every single day, sometimes twice a day. When I’m don’t with class, even if it’s only noon, there’s a 99% chance I’m in my bed, ready to pass out. But nothing is worse than waking up from a deep sleep and feeling like you are half-dead. Especially in the evenings, specifically on gamedays, I’m sure a lot of people can relate to opening your eyes after a couple hours of sleep and feeling horrendous. But not matter how many times I wake up and regret the nap I just took, I will almost definitely make the same mistake the next day. How can just a few hours of sleep leave you feeling so great sometimes, and so terrible other times?

The answer to this is sleep inertia. This is when part of your body is still in its sleeping state and you are somehow unable to perform simple tasks. This usually happens when you wake up quickly. If you experience this in the morning, you probably automatically turn to your morning coffee. But when you experience this after an evening nap, its disorienting and confusing. Typically, sleep inertia lasts about 15-30 minutes after waking up, but it could actually last up to 4 hours.

Another issue that affects the level of sleep inertia that you experience is if you wake in the middle of a sleep stage. When you wake after a sleep stage, you normally feel amazing and wide-awake, but if you wake in the middle of one, your sleep efficiency is greatly reduced. When you use an alarm clock, your chances ofth sleep inertia are raised to almost 98%. This almost guarantees that you’ll feel terrible when you wake up in the morning.

This grogginess and tiredness that immediately follows a nap can be very bad for people who have things to do and only plan to lay down for “15 or 20 minutes.”
images-1 This can even cause dangers while driving or performing other important tasks. The closer you are to waking up, the greater your risk is for waking up at the wrong time and suffering the consequences of sleep inertia. There are certain alarm clocks and apps that you can buy that try to memorize your sleep schedule and wake you up at the end of a stage of sleeping.
After a nap, it is ideal to wake up in either stage 1 of sleep or tage 2 of sleep. It is not very beneficial to wake up in the middle of Slow Wave Sleep or REM sleep. Stages 1 and 2 are only the beginning stages of sleep, and your body will not have a very hard time recovering from being inactive. Stage 1 of sleep accounts for 9% of your sleep time, which is not when your alarm would normally go off to wake you up from your nap

Take-home message: Sleep Inertia isn’t usually dangerous but it feels pretty terrible. When your brain is inactive for a decent amount of time, it can only be expected that it’ll need some time to reboot. The best way to deal with this issue would be to purchase an alarm clock that wakes you slowly, or to get a phone app that regulates when you are in the right stage of sleep to wake up.


Works Cited






10 thoughts on “why do you feel so gross after naps?

  1. Rachel Marie Aul

    Great post! I find this post very relatable to me because I always feel worse after taking naps than I do before taking naps. Sometimes, even though I may be exhausted, I decide not to nap just because I know I will feel more groggy afterward.

    I’m glad you mentioned why we actually feel tired when we wake up from naps, because I did not know it had to deal with our sleep cycle. We talked about the differences in sleep cycle in my psychology class, and I learned that stages 3 and 4 produce the deepest stages of sleep, so I could imagine that waking up in stage 3 or 4 would be the worst.

    Even if you wake up in stage 3 or 4, I found an article ( http://www.dallasnews.com/life/healthy-living/2015/02/16/feel-groggy-in-the-mornings-heres-how-to-wake-up-refreshed ) that gives advice on how to wake up feeling refreshed. Some advice would be to make the room darker, stay hydrated (we all know waking up after a nap with a dry throat is the worst feeling), and eat something when you first wake up.

  2. Christina Rae Locurto

    This is probably the most relatable blog post I’ve ever read. I’ve started taking more naps, and I’ve always felt absolutely disgusting afterwards. Sleep Inertia makes a lot of sense though, and explains why I always feel so gross after I nap. I found this really interesting article about sleep inertia. It has a lot of detailed information regarding what sleep inertia is, and its effects on human health. I would be interested to see some data on sleep inertia, and how it can affect different people.

  3. Tyler Mitchell Azar

    This was a fantastic and informative blog post. I’d never previously heard of sleep inertia, but it makes total sense now why I always wake up feeling sluggish and angry after a nap. I love naps, mostly because my sleep schedule at night is usually messed up for a variety of reasons. I’m glad to hear that it’s normally not dangerous, but I’ll definitely look into alarm clocks that wake you slowly to keep myself happy in the future. Great job.

    I also found a quality article from the Huffington Post that elaborates further on this concept: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/van-winkles/what-is-sleep-inertia-and_b_7764850.html

  4. Liz Galante

    There is not a day that I don’t come home from class and go right back into my bed to take a nap and just like you said, I do it even when it wouldn’t be considered a “nap time”. For example, on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays I only have one class for the whole day and end by 10 A.M. Typically, thats when someone is first waking up, however, thats what I consider a time for me to go take my nap. I was always confused as to why I would wake up feeling like I was in a different world and confused as to where I was and always assumed it was just because I was sleeping for so long but it was really interesting to learn the reason behind it. I found the whole concept of sleep inertia so interesting that I decided to research it further and found it interesting.

  5. Jacob Alexander Loffredo

    Awesome post! After reading your blog post and being informed on exactly what sleep inertia is, I despise sleep inertia on so many levels. I also enjoy taking naps daily and there is no worse feeling then waking up and just being straight up shot out and unproductive. I understand that sleep inertia is not dangerous but I would say that it is a hazard to our daily routines because like you stated in your blog some people can have sleep inertia affects for up to 4 hours long. This is a 4 minute video just talking about a very relatable topic that intertwines with naps, it is called Why is waking up so hard.

  6. Candace Burke

    I just wrote a very similiar blog post! Mine focused more on the different stages of sleep so it was interesting to see how sleep inertia affects how you feel after a nap. I also nap daily and hate the feeling of waking up dead and having to go to class.

  7. Nathan O'brien

    Wow this makes so much sense to me! I have a question, do the sleep stages explain why I am sometimes much more lively when I get maybe 4 hours of sleep compared to 10 hours of sleep. Sometimes I notice that if I get less than a certain amount of sleep I won’t be tired. For example, over my life I have realized that I always wake up tired when I get between 6 and 7 hours of sleep. What’s weird is if I get less than 6 hours of sleep or more than 7 hours I tend to be more awake! I suppose that’s due to sleep stages, something I have never heard about before this post. I have truly learned some great information from this post! Great job on the blog! By the way you have a spelling error in the first sentence. I found a sleep tracker online. It’s not something I could afford while in college, but maybe further down the road! https://misfit.com/products/beddit/?gclid=CjwKEAjw1qHABRDU9qaXs4rtiS0SJADNzJisQYXN-eoZVL1lL0Ep4dZ2V7R7B28xFXLNUL5GLtXtKhoCvGPw_wcB&color=white&cid=ps-googlepla-bedditwhite&country=US&s_kwcid=AL!4524!3!53790353931!!!g!41240959207!&ef_id=V3go6gAABWssVn4w:20161020215503:s

  8. Joe Garrett

    I always wondered why I usuallty felt so crappy after I took a nap. This was one of the main reasons I have never been that big of a nap person. I don’t enjoy the feeling of being tired after I just slept for an hour or two. Taking always seemed somewhat counterproductive for me personally since I generally felt MORE tired after I woke up from a nap. While naps may work for some people, they just don’t do it for me but at least I know why they don’t work for me now.

  9. Lucille Laubenstein

    People have always judged me because I hate taking naps, and I hate taking them for exactly that reason! This was so helpful because now I have the vocabulary to explain why I do not like taking naps! Sleep inertia is the worst! You mentioned coffee in your post, and how that can be the go to thing to combat the effects of sleep inertia. I found this article explaining how that works exactly, it seems like it might boost your blog a little bit. http://dev.spokane.wsu.edu/researchoutreach/Sleep/documents/2001SLP-VanDongen-etal.pdf

  10. Michael Mandarino

    Great post! I can definitely relate to the weird, disorienting feeling after taking a nap during the middle of the day/the evening – thanks to this post I now know exactly why. Unfortunately there is no way to prevent sleep inertia so I guess that people just have to deal with feeling gross for 15 minutes if they choose to take a nap. Also good to hear that sleep inertia isn’t dangerous. Thanks for sharing

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