Why am I so grumpy after a nap?

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Q: Every time I wake up, I feel sad and in a bad mood. Why does this happen?

A: An effective nap shouldn’t make you feel bored. It should make your brain feel energized and recharged.

So if you’re in a bad mood after sleep, the likely explanation is that you slept too little and your body wants more sleep, or you slept too long and you woke up from a deep sleep. It can also mean something is wrong with your overall sleep.

A full night’s sleep is a mixture of different stages: rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. The latter, which includes a large amount of sleep, is divided into light, intermediate and deep sleep.

Normally, we transition from a waking state of consciousness to NREM sleep. After about one to two hours, we will have our first extended period of REM sleep, which is associated with dreaming.

If you sleep for more than an hour and a half, you may wake up feeling groggy due to sleep inertia. That’s when your body resists waking up, usually because you were in deep NREM sleep. The term “sleep drunk” is often used to describe this feeling. You may feel irritated, sore and confused.

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How to improve your sleep

If a patient tells me they feel this way after sleep, my first question would be: Does it only happen after a nap, or whenever you wake up — day or night? The latter can be an indicator of sleep deprivation.

When someone is sleep deprived, the first thing you notice is that they are irritable and inattentive. One way to combat this is to improve the quantity and overall quality of their sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommend that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep per night. But if you get that amount and still wake up tired, the problem may be related to quality.

You probably already know some of the factors that can affect sleep quality. Having too much caffeine, drinking alcohol, screen time at night, a room that’s too hot or too cold, an uncomfortable mattress, what time you go to bed – these can all affect how well you sleep. For shift workers, getting good quality sleep can be especially challenging, as they may need to wake up in two or more sessions.

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But one thing that is often overlooked is your state of mind at bedtime or how you feel about sleep. Are you afraid to sleep? Are you looking forward to waking up? All of these stressors can have a significant impact on sleep quality.

If you’re feeling very hungry after waking up — day or night — and it’s affecting your overall focus and energy, I recommend speaking with your primary care physician or sleep medicine specialist to rule out any related health conditions. to study. . People with obstructive sleep apnea, for example, may experience sleep inertia after falling asleep and in the morning.

Tips for good sleep habits

I recommend a 20- to 40-minute nap—the ideal time for most adults to feel refreshed without interfering with a night’s sleep. When I do occasionally sleep, I set an alarm to give me peace of mind so I won’t oversleep.

The time of day can also help. Try to nap after lunch, when our circadian rhythms take a predictable dip in alertness, allowing more time for sleep.

Some people swear by a “napuccino” or “coffee nap”—a cup of coffee before bed in hopes of waking up. The problem is, you have to fall asleep as soon as you finish the coffee. Otherwise, the timing probably won’t work.

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Ideal sleep would be in a dark room or with an eye mask. I recommend that they sleep in the same place they sleep at night — especially if they use a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, so they can use it then. This setting also helps create a positive association for sleeping in a familiar place.

Finding the right nap length and setting one for you can take some practice, but it helps to think of naps as if you were eating a snack. Everyone’s appetite is different. If your snack is too small, you will still feel hungry. If it’s too big, you won’t feel good afterward—and it can ruin your appetite when it comes time to sit down to a full meal.

See a doctor: Rafael Peleyo is a clinical professor in the Department of Sleep Medicine at Stanford University.

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