A Sleep Expert Explains Why You Always Feel Tired After Waking Up

Sleep is one of those things you just can't live without. A lack of sleep can interfere with your body's ability to recover and build muscle, lead to weight gain, and impair brain function and performance.

To get to the bottom of why you wake up feeling lethargic, POPSUGAR spoke to Neomi Shah, MD, associate professor of medicine, division of pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Get Enough Sleep

One of the most obvious reasons you feel lethargic after waking up is because you aren't getting enough sleep. "Most adult humans need seven to eight hours of sleep in a 24-hour period," Dr. Shah told POPSUGAR. If you tend to feel lethargic and drowsy after waking up, try spending more time in bed. If you are sleeping enough, but still feel lackluster, Dr. Shah said you may feel lethargic due to poor sleep quality from waking up multiple times at night or periods of prolonged wakefulness.

"Underlying sleep apnea is always a concern when feeling lethargic despite adequate sleep, but other medical and or psychiatric conditions can also explain this," Dr. Shah said. For example, an underactive thyroid can lead to feeling lethargic, along with depression.

Create a Bedtime Routine

Along with getting more sleep, Dr. Shah recommended creating a bedtime routine to wake up feeling more energetic. "Ensure the routine stays the same every day of the week, including the same wake and sleep times on the weekend," she said. If podcasts or journaling before bed help you relax, do it. Regardless of what your routine entails, Dr. Shah said to avoid drinking alcohol right before bed.

Avoid Caffeine Late in the Day

Another drink to watch out for is coffee. If you need caffeine to fuel your day, Dr. Shah said to avoid drinking it in the afternoon and evening. She also recommends staying hydrated throughout the day "as dehydration can often make you feel lethargic," she explained.

What to Do If You're Still Feeling Lethargic

If you've implemented all these steps and you're still feeling sleepy on top of feeling lethargic, Dr. Shah advised getting a sleep evaluation and sleep study done to help pinpoint the problem. She also recommends having a medical exam done once a year to ensure you don't have underlying medical conditions or psychiatric conditions that could be contributing to the feeling of lethargy.