Clumsiness and bad mood when getting up is common in those who suffer from sleep inertia. This is a condition in which a reduction in various cognitive and emotional abilities occurs, right after waking up.

Many people feel tired when they wake up, despite having slept the hours recommended by specialists. Your mind can’t think clearly and your body stumbles. It seems that they had suddenly been possessed by clumsiness and bad humor.

However, what they experience is far from a strange phenomenon. This is a problem known as ‘sleep inertia’. Science began to disseminate data about it in the 1960s. It is a temporary state of reduced cognitive ability and alertness.

This state, in general, lasts for about an hour after the moment the person wakes up. However, this period varies from case to case; some people live it for fifteen minutes and others for an hour or even longer. Duration is believed to be related to the phase of sleep that has been interrupted.

What characterizes the inertia of sleep?

This period of clumsiness and bad mood after sleep is characterized by a marked reduction in the alertness typical of the awake person. There is a large increase in drowsiness and poor brain performance. Likewise, there is irritability, intolerance, bad mood and even states of depression. The inertial state of sleep may be accompanied by general disorientation or confusion.

It is a phenomenon that interferes with normal mental or physical tasks and causes a decrease in response time, poor short-term memory  and slow thinking speed. It’s kind of like a jetlag.

Clumsiness and bad mood upon waking: a medical matter.

Contrary to what many people believe, experiencing clumsiness and bad temper when a person wakes up is a medical matter and not a character or personality issue. In fact, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has included the state of sleep inertia in the list of parasomnias, that is, sleep disorders.

Sleep inertia affects adults and adolescents, without distinction. Therefore, its origin cannot be explained by the age of those who suffer from it. Rather, it could be an issue linked to modern life, which has distanced itself from natural cycles and does not respect the circadian rhythms of sleep.

Circadian rhythms are those physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a daily cycle, in direct relation to light and dark. There are theories that hold that the fact of having broken the natural cycle of waking up with the sunrise and sleeping with the company of artificial lights such as television, has affected our sleep.

During the inertia of sleep the brain is carrying out activities typical of the phases of deep sleep. Hence, some studies propose this relationship between circadian rhythms and sleep inertia, as it would explain the presence of this in the fact of having awakened the brain during the restful sleep phase, according to what the biological clock sets.

Data to take into account.

Although the inertia of sleep seems to be something harmless, which only exposes those who live in a house to the clumsiness and bad mood of those who suffer from it, it can be something more than this. Scientific studies have shown that if sleep is interrupted during a deep phase, brain performance can drop drastically.

This poor brain performance, the slowness in responding to everyday situations and the difficulty in overcoming drowsiness can be at risk in certain professions. Workers who must do shifts during which they take a nap, risk having their sleep abruptly interrupted and experiencing sleep inertia, which can pose a risk to others.

While no effective ways have been found to prevent sleep inertia and thus avoid clumsiness and bad mood upon waking, it is recommended to maintain strict sleep hygiene.

Such hygiene includes, among other measures, sleeping between seven and eight hours a day without interruptions; do not do it with televisions or computers in the room; have a routine and avoid stimulants before going to sleep.