Waking up tired sucks.
You’ve gone to sleep, fallen asleep, and given your body every chance it needs to rest and recover.
And yet here we are – awake after only 7 hours. And still feeling tired!
Why body, why?!
Being unable to sleep for longer than 7 hours can be from a variety of issues. You may naturally only need 7 hours (if you wake up refreshed), your sleeping pattern may be forcing you awake at your regular time, or it could a minor factor which stops your sleep after 7 hours (solutions below).
Unlike other sleep issues, finding yourself awake after 7 hours points to a more minor sleep factor. You’re almost getting a full night’s sleep, but not quite.
Ready to fix it? Let’s dive into the details together.
Is 7 Hours of Sleep All You Need?
The first question to ask is whether your body’s getting all the sleep that it needs.
We’re all different. Some of us are so different we actually enjoy pineapple on pizza. But that’s not for me to judge you insane fruit-meddling pizza defilers.
When it comes to sleep, we all need different amounts. Doctors worldwide recommend a healthy 8 hours for adults – but this isn’t always true.
While I make the same recommendation, my Dad has always slept for just 6 hours. Weeknight, weekend, with a busy day ahead or a long lie in, he only ever sleeps for 6 hours. But he wakes up feeling refreshed, and he’s healthy.
In the same way, your body may only need 7 hours of sleep. The way to tell is how you feel in the morning. Do you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to go, or are you groggier than a zombie with a hangover?
If it’s the second option, then keep on reading. (And if it’s the first, go enjoy life needing only 7 hours of sleep, you lucky bastard.)
Are You Running to Schedule?
The other explanation is a common issue for those of us with regular sleep schedules. Whether that sleep schedule is voluntary or you’re forced awake for work each morning, the effect is the same.
Our bodies love routine. So even if you’re tired, that natural cue to wake up may override your need for sleep.
If your issue is that you’re waking up just as early on the weekend than during the week (but you don’t want to), then that’s a trickier one to solve.
I say tricky – because it’s actually the healthiest way to live.
Keeping a consistent wake/sleep time is one of the best ways to ensure high quality sleep. It means your body is primed to transition into and out of sleep at regular times each day.
Obviously, this is a problem after a late Friday night with friends. There’s unfortunately no way to ‘switch’ this off just for the weekend.
However, following the tips below may help.
Otherwise – I’d recommend considering enjoying a lie-in and/or a mid-day nap. But there’s no way to delay an otherwise clockwork sleeping pattern just for a day (without being super tired).
5 Ways To Sleep Longer, and Better
No matter the cause, there’s probably some super easy tips you can follow to improve your sleep.
Whether that’s making your sleep quality better (getting more quality sleep in less time) or letting yourself sleep for longer – the tips below will help.
Now, there’s no need to go redecorating your entire bedroom. Instead, choose one or two tips that you think might help, and implement them. See if you notice a difference, and try some more if you feel like it.
Your Sleep Environment
The atmosphere you sleep in is one of the most important factors in your quality of sleep.
You can drink all the camomile tea in the world, but it’s not going to help when the construction site next door starts up at 6am!
While not every factor is under our control, tweaking what you can may help you sleep longer than 7 hours.
This is the most obvious factor, and easiest to fix. The darker your room, the better you’ll sleep. For the best results, get yourself some blackout drapes or blinds. But for a much cheaper and quicker fix, sleep masks can absolutely work. Just make sure to get a good one, that’ll stay comfortable throughout the night.
My personal experience with sleep masks is that they can help you get to sleep, but will often slip off when asleep – so they might not be the most help when trying to sleep longer than 7 hours. Instead, going for the full blackout blinds may be worth it. (You could always test by blocking the light with a big box before investing the time and money in blinds!)
Next up, and much harder to solve, is quietness.
For many – noise is what rudely awakens them before they can get their full 8 hours of sleep. If it’s external, unfortunately the best solution is ear plugs (or installing sound insulation!).
I do have good news for you. Ear plugs can be amazing. You may have tried the crappy foam kind, which aren’t effective, are uncomfortable, and fall out all the time.
Look for a good silicone/wax set – my favorite is Mack’s earplugs. They mold to the shape of your ear, don’t stick out (so you can lie on yourside), and work so well. Just make sure your alarm vibrates, cause you may not hear it..
What’s surprising to many is that a cool room is a big factor in good sleep. Nights are always much cooler than days, and this acts as a trigger to encourage sleep. (This seems to be separate from being cozy under a duvet, thankfully).
If you’re on to have the heating on high, consider turning it down. But if lots of natural evening/morning heat is your problem, unfortunately this is the toughest one to deal with.
We can block out light. We can block out noise. But it’s very hard to block the temperature of the entire planet!
While we can use fans to our advantage (some tips on sleeping with a fan here), air conditioning is often the only way to truly counter a hot room.
Are You Taking Too Many Drugs?
No, I didn’t phrase that question wrong!
However, by drugs, I mainly mean caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.
A glass of wine at night is no big deal, but any significant amount of alcohol can seriously mess with your sleep.
If you’re a drinker, have you ever noticed that you tend to wake up early after a drinks night (unless of course you’ve totally blacked out)? That’s because the quality of your sleep on alcohol suffers massively.
While it can be easier to fall asleep, your body finds it harder to get into the deeper stages of restful sleep. Meaning you don’t get nearly as well rested, and wake up much easier.
If your stuck getting 7 hours of sleep after drinking, try cutting out the alcohol and seeing if it helps.
We (mostly) all love a good cup of coffee, but did you realize how badly it could be messing with your sleep?
Caffeine has a half life of 6 hours. In other words, drinking a coffee at 4pm means you still have half a cup of it running through your system at 10pm. Not a massive factor in waking up after 7 hours, but still one to be aware of. Lowering your caffeine intake is not a bad idea if you’re wanting better sleep.
Lastly, nicotine can be a major reason why people wake up too early.
Basically, your body is craving nicotine harder than it’s craving more sleep.
It’s just like if you wake up due to needing food, water, or the bathroom. Your need for nicotine has become so primal that it’s forcing you out of sleep.
Combine that with the high risk of cancer, lung disease, breathing issues, and high cost… it’s almost as if smoking is bad for you!
I alluded to it above – but hunger, thirst, or the need for the bathroom may be what’s causing you to wake up early.
If so, try to do what you can the night before to make sure these things won’t be such a bother in the morning. When it comes to hunger, try sticking to a light snack (with some protein) before bed. Yoghurt, milk, or some nuts are a good option.
How’s That Old Mattress?
What you sleep on can make a huge difference in your comfort.
Everyone likes different mattresses. For me, I never sleep better than when I sleep on a memory foam mattress. It’s like waking up from a 100-year slumber each morning.
However, some like firm mattresses, and others prefer super soft.
Do you know which you like best? Or are you just sleeping on top of whatever old mattress you have available?
If so, it could be worth trying different mattresses out. It may be that you a new mattress could transform your quality of sleep (and your quality of life with it!). All mattress companies offer large return policies, so there’s no harm in testing some options.
Low on budget? No worries. Mattress toppers can make a real difference for a fraction of the cost. Especially memory foam ones. After getting a new and ridiculously uncomfortable mattress form a landlord, we absolutely transformed it with just a 2.5” memory foam topper.
One of the largest health epidemics in the world is stress.
It affects so many aspects in our lives. But where it shows itself most is in our sleep.
If you’ve been feeling particularly stressed and living life on the wire, this may be what’s causing your unwanted wakefulness.
Unfortunately I can’t help you solve those problems (though I do wish I could help). Instead, all I can do is encourage you to objectively look at what could be causing you stress. What can you influence that’s under your control?
Can you squeeze out some more time for a good bed-time routine? Allocate some budget towards ear plugs or black out blinds?
One habit that’s proven to help with stress AND improve quality of sleep is meditation. If you’re interested, the Headspace app is a great place to start.
Your body waking you up when you’ve not slept enough is a very strange thing.
It’s like it wants you to feel like crap all day.
I hope this quick guide has helped give you a few ideas to help get a couple more hours of rest each night. To encourage your body that hey, it’s okay to keep sleeping a little longer!
If this content has helped you, please consider checking out some of the other articles on this blog. Your reading time helps support the site through ads (and showing Google you like the content!).
Thanks for reading, and sleep well.