By Sandee LaMotte | CNN
(CNN) – The alarm goes off and you shudder awake, unsure of where you are. Groggily you recognize your room and slowly roll out of bed thinking, “It can’t be morning. Didn’t I just go to bed?”Called sleep inertia, it happens when you suddenly snap out of REM sleep — a deeper stage of sleep where you dream and your body repairs itself. During that sleep cycle your body is flooded with high levels of melatonin, the body’s sleep hormone.
Waking with a body packed full of a sleep aid causes disorientation and shaky sensory-motor performance that typically lasts about 30 minutes to an hour
Sleep inertia can also happen when waking from a daytime snooze that went long, well past the
After taking an in-flight nap, an Air India Express pilot overshot the landing runway and crashed a plane full of 166 people into a hillside, where it rolled and burst into flames. Only eight survived.
What to do?
Now that you’re woke, so to speak, to the dangers of a sleep-slogged brain, let’s see what science tells us we can do about it.
Consider cold water
Can chilly water shock you awake? A small
Drinking a couple of cups of coffee or caffeinated tea is a proven way to jump-start attention. That’s because caffeine increases neuron firing in the brain, which also triggers the release of adrenaline that causes your heart to beat faster. No need to gulp down more than two cups at one sitting, as studies show more doesn’t add additional mental
Bask in the
A sunshiny day can lift your spirits and energize your mind. One study exposed subjects to bright lights after wakening and found it increased cortisol levels. Cortisol is a steroid hormone, sort of an internal alarm system. To respond to stress, cortisol increases glucose in your
Another study exposed subjects to
Take a brisk walk
Take a brisk walk around your home, or better yet, go for a walk outside in the sunlight. Studies show exercisetemporarily boosts alertness, in part because of the accompanying rise in body temperature and the boost of blood to the brain.
One study found that a mix of caffeine, bright light and face washing with cold water helped jump-start alertness after a short nap.
Even if you crave it, sugar is no solution for breakfast or a wake-up snack after a nap. It will only give you a short high, and the crash that follows can be brutal, says sleep specialist and clinical psychologist Michael Breus. Instead, rely on proteins such as eggs to boost brain power.