One possible reason: You didn’t sleep as well as you think. It has been “junk sleep,” either not long enough or high quality enough to feed your brain and body. For example, maybe you slept eight hours, but not deeply, or you kept waking up all night.
The term “junk sleep” has over 36 million views on TikTokbut if you’ve never heard of it, how do you know you’re dealing with it, what causes it, and how to beat it?
Signs You Have Junk Sleep
For many of us, waking up tired is a given. It makes sense that we need a few minutes (and a few cups of coffee) to fully get going. But when is insufficient sleep to blame – and a problem we need to address?
You wonder if you slept at all and if you can still function.
If you’ve ever woken up and wondered if you actually fell asleep, you know what we’re talking about here.
“You could wake up feeling like you haven’t even slept,” says Kristen Casey, licensed clinical psychologist and specialist in insomnia. “You wake up with a feeling of restlessness, drowsiness or irritability. This kind of sleep does not help us restore our bodily functions and causes difficulties for our functioning the next day.”
In other words, it’s not your everyday desire to rest longer just because your bed feels so comfortable.
You are not too hot emotionally, mentally or physically.
In terms of functioning, you’re having a hard time. You may feel extra anxious, depressed, forgetful, easily distracted or irritable, according to Phil Lawlor, a sleep expert at mattress manufacturer Dormeo. In the long run, you may find yourself getting sick more easily, experiencing chronic pain, digestive or cardiovascular problems, or feeling extremely fatigued.
In addition, you may notice changes in your diet. “Another lesser-known symptom is that you may be eating more than usual,” adds Nicole Eichelberger, a certified sleep expert specializing in insomnia and a consultant at Mattress. This is because sleep deprivation – even one night of it — increases the level of ghrelinthe ‘hunger hormone’.
You don’t really believe in the importance of sleep and sleep hygiene.
Casey likes to help people look at how they feel about sleep because “our thoughts can affect how we feel, behave, and experience the world, including the world of sleep,” she says. “For example, if you don’t think sleep is important, you may not prioritize your sleep routine or care about waking up at the same time every day.”
Nor does this perspective need to be explicit: “I hate sleep and sleep doesn’t matter.” It can look or carry more subtle “revenge delaying bedtime,” for example, deliberately delaying sleep because you want more free time. (Understandable, but useless!)
As a result, Casey added, you may not practice solid sleep hygienelike adding a soothing buffer before bed.
What causes ‘junk sleep’ – and how to beat it
Many factors can contribute to junk sleep, some more under your control than others. Here’s what you need to know and what you can to do:
Casey listed several noises that can prevent you from sleeping deeply all night, such as children waking up, pets, traffic, your partner’s snoring, or your roommate watching television.
We feel other environmental factors, she says, such as being too hot or too cold, sleeping on an uncomfortable mattress, physical pain, illness and too much light.
The ‘feeling’ aspects also extend to our emotions. “When people are anxious or depressed, they often have trouble sleeping,” Eichelberger added. “This can be caused by a number of factors, including low self-esteem, guilt, anger, or a general sense of hopelessness.” (After all, if emotions didn’t contribute, Would Taylor Swift’s album Midnights even exist??)
The solution: Customize what you can. Examples are buying a soft mattress topper, turning up the air conditioning, install blackout curtainsTaking tums to combat acid reflux, making sure you eat enough so you don’t wake up hungry, wear earplugs, and put stressful items — like your work laptop — in another room.
You have more control over these variables, such as scrolling through your phone or watching a movie late at night. According to the Sleep Foundation it’s best to put your phone away an hour before bedtime.
“Even though scrolling social media or watching television gives you something to do, your brain responds to the stimuli whether you’re aware of it or not,” says Casey. “This can cause problems falling asleep or staying asleep, in addition to restless sleep.”
Lawlor explained how that works: “Phones disrupt your sleep cycle because the bright blue light emitted from LED screens on electronic devices is a sleep disruptor that tricks your brain into thinking it is still daytime so you don’t feel will feel sleepy when it’s time. to close your eyes,” he says.
Moreover, substances, such as alcohol in particular, are also not a good idea, according to Casey. That’s what the Sleep Foundation says alcohol can reduce sleep quality by 9 to more than 39%, depending on how heavily you drink. Alcohol and drugs can also disrupt your sleep leading to nightmares.
The solution: For behavioral causes, we look at some of the same solutions. What are some not-so-great things you do before bed, and what’s a better, doable option? Maybe that means drinking decaf coffee, reading between catching up on a show and sleeping, taking a warm bath or using the bathroom before snuggling into the sheets.
like you to be Lawlor started using your phone in bed and encouraged him to put it on night mode. He says it reduces blue light emission and lowers brightness. While not using your phone at all is a better option, this is the next best thing. For an iPhoneclick Settings > Display & brightness > Night shift. For an androidclick Settings > Display > Enable or disable the dark theme.
Do you still feel rough in the morning? You may want to talk to a professional. “As always, don’t forget to talk to your doctor if you think you’re experiencing a sleep disorder or insomnia,” says Casey.
While there is some we can do to deal with all of this, we can’t cure it all. “Some of these may be out of our control, so be patient with yourself,” Casey adds. Validate your frustrations and do what you can – without judgment – to help yourself sleep. While sleep problems can make you feel hopeless, you’re not entirely out of luck.