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The Sleeping Hack to Stop Waking Up Tired All the Time

Frustrated that you're always waking up tired? We've got a hack for you to try.

Man waking up tired in the morning

We've all experienced it before.

Waking up and feeling even more tired, or even more exhausted than we did the night before.

Or hearing that alarm, and feeling like it's a war against yourself to simply get up out of your bed.

It's certainly not good for our moods in the mornings, and even worse for our goals and productivity if we end up being late for work, or succumb to our tiredness and go back to sleep.

But, no matter how many hours of sleep we get, we always feel this way when we first wake up.

Why is this?

And how can we fix it?

In this article I'm going to help you explore the idea of a hack known as '90 minute sleep cycles', and help you get back to waking up in the mornings feeling energized and motivated again!

Let's get into it!

What Are 90 Minute Sleep Cycles?

Sleep research has shown us that we sleep in cycles of roughly 90 minutes at a time.

And in every cycle, there are 4 different stages.

They are:

  1. N1 (Non-REM sleep)

  2. N2 (Non-REM sleep)

  3. N3 (Non-REM sleep)

  4. REM (REM sleep)

Don't worry, we'll get into what each stage is about in case you're wondering.

Non-REM Sleep Stages

REM stands for rapid eye movement.

We'll get into what that is in a second.

But non-REM is the opposite of rapid eye movement, as you could probably tell.

N1 Stage

This is basically just the 'dozing off' stage.

Man dozing off at the park and falling sleep on the grass

It's the lightest form of sleep, and lasts a very short while, only roughly 1-5 minutes for most people (see study here).

Your brain activity will start to slow down, but you're not even fully relaxed yet.

And if you wake up during this stage of sleep for whatever reason, it's generally not that difficult to get out of bed.

N2 Stage

This stage of the sleep cycle is a little bit deeper.

In N2, your body starts to relax.

Your muscles relax.

Your body temperature drops.

Your heart rate and breathing rate slow down.

This stage can last roughly 10-25 minutes, and is generally going to account for half of the time you spend asleep altogether during the night.

It's a little more difficult to wake from your slumber if you're in this stage compared to being in stage 1 (N1), but it's likely not going to cause that eternal struggle we all face that I was talking about earlier in this article.

N3 Stage

The third stage of our sleep cycles is where we finally reach what is considered 'deep sleep'.

The body continues to relax even more than it did in stage two.

This is a critical stage of sleep that's going to help strengthen your immune system, and also play a vital role in your body's growth and repair from all your daily stress.

This stage of sleep generally lasts between 20 and 40 minutes for most people, and is even more difficult to wake up from.

This is the final stage of non-REM sleep in the cycle.

REM Sleep

REM stands for rapid eye movement.

During your REM sleep, your brain activity starts to pick up and can reach levels that can almost match the levels of activity when you're awake.

Your muscles will be temporarily paralyzed, all except the eyes and the muscles that you use to control your breathing.

Normally you won't reach this sleep stage until you've been asleep for about an hour and a half, and for the average adult this REM sleep stage will account for about 25% of the time we spend asleep.

On top of this, it's been suggested that REM sleep is also extremely important for improving cognitive abilities such as your memory, your creativity and your ability to learn new things (see a paper by the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School).

So yes, for those of you who don't like to sleep. it is pretty important for your day to day life.

So How Do You Stop Waking Up Tired?

We've got a couple of tips for you to try and implement.

Don't Focus So Much on Getting as Much Sleep as Possible

As you've probably already worked out, getting more and more sleep isn't always better.

Digital clock on the wall with an alarm set for 8 hours of sleep

If we look at the 90 minute cycles, we'll see that the typical 8-hour sleep period we're always being recommended doesn't actually fit into that.

If you set your alarm to wake you up after 8 hours of sleep, you'll be woken up in one of the deeper stages of sleep, making it harder for you to get up and feel energized in the mornings.

Focus on Waking Up At the END of Each 90 Minute Cycle

Since 90 minutes is equal to an hour and a half, these are the periods of time you should be looking to spend asleep instead:

  • 6 hours (4 x 1.5 hours)

  • 7.5 hours (5 x 1.5 hours)

  • 9 hours (6 x 1.5 hours)

Of course, you can go lower and still find multiples of 1.5 hours.

4.5 hours of sleep still fits into the multiple.

So does 3 hours, and even 10.5 hours!

But that's really not practical for most people, nor is it healthy for us to consistently get less than 6 hours of sleep a night.

And sleeping too much will cause us to miss out on some of the important and exciting things in our lives, so we wouldn't recommend that to the average healthy person either.

Before I had learnt about all of this, there have been times in my life where I had to wake up early the next morning, but had gotten carried away doing other things at night and ended up going to bed way later than usual.

It wasn't uncommon for me to 'accidentally' get basically exactly 6 hours of sleep (when normally I'd get around 8), and I'd wake up feeling extremely energetic, and jolt out of bed despite it being 4:30 or 5 o'clock in the morning!

I'd be so confused, wondering why I wasn't feeling tired at all.

Now I've come to realize that was because I was unknowingly sleeping according to my 90 minute cycles.

To Wrap Things Up

Hopefully you've enjoyed reading through this article, and have learnt something new about your sleep!

We definitely recommend trying this out, and let us know how it goes when you do!

Seriously, it's such an awesome feeling when you wake up early and find that you're energetic, feeling pumped and ready for the day.

Just give it a shot.

Do YOU still wake up feeling tired all the time?

Let us know in the comments section!


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