If you struggle to get out of bed in the morning, say goodbye to these 7 habits

Sometimes we go through phases where it’s a struggle to get out of bed in the mornings. 

This could be because of the odd bout of insomnia where you finally fall asleep right before the alarm goes off, or it could be that you just want to stay snuggled up on cold winter mornings.

But what if you’re finding it hard to get out of bed more mornings than not? 

Before you chalk it up to the wear and tear from getting older or worry that it could be something more serious such as depression, it might be best to rule out some of the bad habits below.

Any of these seven habits could be keeping you up so late that you’re dying to lay back down come morning. 

1) Caffeine could be the culprit

I love coffee with a passion. I look forward to that first cup every morning: the aroma coupled with the taste (I’m partial to adding a little bit of almond milk) just puts me in a good mood and makes me excited about my day. 

But I also know my body. If I drink more than two cups in the AM, I’ll be jittery for the rest of the day. For me, that usually means a rapid heartbeat. I also know that if I want to sleep at night, then I have to avoid coffee in the afternoon.

Turns out there’s some science to back this up. 

Drinking coffee during the day could be keeping you up at night, according to the findings of a study by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine

Researchers say that the results of the study suggest that 400 mg of caffeine taken even as long as six hours prior to bedtime significantly disrupts sleep patterns. 

“Even at six hours, caffeine reduced sleep by more than one hour. This degree of sleep loss, if experienced over multiple nights, may have detrimental effects on daytime function.”

For myself, I’ve learned to switch over to water after my morning cup of joe. I will have herbal tea as a soothing hot drink in the evenings. 

The herbal tea tricks my brain that I’m having caffeine—well, almost. 

2) Excessive exercise—especially in the evening 

I know people who prefer to go to the gym in the evenings (I am not one of these people). It makes sense though: you’ve completed all your responsibilities of the day and now it’s your own personal self-care time

Except that exercise—especially if it’s excessive—in the evenings could be making it a struggle to get out of bed in the mornings. 

You would think that exercising in the evening would make your body tired enough to pass out as soon as you hit the sack. 

But exercising close to bedtime could be keeping you up at night, says Charlene Gamaldo, MD, who is the medical director of John Hopkins Center for Sleep at Howard County General Hospital. 

“Aerobic exercise causes the body to release endorphins,” says Dr. Gamaldo. “These chemicals can create a level of activity in the brain that keeps some people awake.”

Coupling this with any soreness or stiffness can make it feel like a superhuman feat to get out of bed in the mornings. 

If this seems to apply to you, then it may be wise to schedule your exercise regimen earlier in the day so that you’re not up so late from an unexpected hit of endorphins. 

3) Overeating can overthrow sleep patterns 

We’ve all done this—more than once.

You’ve eaten healthy throughout the day and you’re proud of having a light, nutritious dinner. 

But then when 10:00 pm strikes, you get a poignant pang of hunger pain. Instead of reaching for a light, healthy snack like say, some celery sticks with peanut butter, you cave to a sugar craving and go for a bowl of ice cream, sleeve of cookies—or all of the above. 

There is an often overlooked connection between overeating and sleep, says Eric Suni from The Sleep Foundation

“Eating too much, especially when it involves heavy or spicy foods, can worsen sleep by interfering with digestion and raising the risk of heartburn,” says Suni. “For this reason, most experts advise against eating too much and too close to bedtime.”

Eating too much leads to disturbances in sleep patterns which in turn, leads to eating too much—adding up to a vicious cycle. 

This is because insufficient sleep also affects parts of the brain that determine how we think about food,” adds Suni. 

“In studies with limited sleep, brain activity is enhanced in areas that are involved in viewing food as a positive reward, making us more vulnerable to eating too much.”

4) Alcohol could also be at fault…

pic1382 If you struggle to get out of bed in the morning, say goodbye to these 7 habits

As someone who only has a glass of red wine once in a blue moon, I always assumed that alcohol made you relaxed and even feel sleepy. 

According to the experts, that’s only part of the equation. Alcohol may help you quickly fall asleep, but inevitably, insomnia will set in.

“After a few hours of sleep, alcohol can cause you to wake up and have a difficult time going back to sleep,” says Aristidis Iatridis, MD, who is a pulmonologist and sleep medicine specialist at Piedmont based in Georgia.

“Alcohol also has a negative effect on Rapid Eye Movement (REM). REM is the deepest sleep, where you have the most vivid dreams,” says Dr. Iatrdis. “It’s the most restorative sleep. And alcohol can reduce the amount of REM sleep you have at night.”

So how many hours before bedtime should you give the booze a break? 

A rule of thumb is about four hours in order to prevent sleep disruption, says Dr. Iatrdis. 

“People don’t do that,” he acknowledges, “but that would be optimal. “And when you go out, you want to limit yourself to no more than a couple of drinks. What’s considered a reasonable amount of alcohol is two drinks a night for a male, and one drink a night for a female.”

Dr. Iatrdis says the key is to drink in moderation and give yourself time before going to bed so that the alcohol can clear from your system. 

5) ..but so could smoking 

As someone who has never smoked, I assumed that smoking—although obviously a bad habit—helped people relax.

Turns out nicotine disrupts sleep and smoking can raise the risk of developing sleep conditions such as sleep apnea, say health experts. 

“Since nicotine is a stimulant, smoking can mask your exhaustion,” says Amanda Holm, MPH, who is the tobacco treatment manager at Henry Ford Health. “After all, if you’re feeling sleepy, a hit of nicotine can wake you up and make you feel alert the next day.”

If you want to quit but are worried about withdrawal, Holm says that symptoms—including even sleep disturbances—will resolve over time. “Symptoms usually begin within hours of quitting, peak within the first few days, and subside within a few weeks,” says Holm. 

6) Nursing your Netflix habit late at night 

I’m pretty good about sticking to my sleep schedule—I usually pass out by midnight—but I can be guilty of this one once in a while.

Binging from streaming platforms like Netflix, HBO, Apple TV, and the like can put you into “one more episode” mode and before you know it, it’s past three o’clock in the morning.

For the sake of your health (not to mention getting to work on time the next morning), this habit has to be nipped in the bud. This means no Netflix past say, nine in the evening no matter what—especially on a weeknight. 

You can reward yourself by cutting yourself some slack at nights when you know you can sleep in, such as on weekends. Even then though, it’s best not to binge too late and prioritize a good night’s rest.

Your brain and your body will thank you for it. 

7) “Doomscrolling” like there’s no tomorrow 

Again, I don’t know who isn’t guilty of this (other than maybe my mom because she’s not on social media). 

A bit of “harmless” scrolling of Instagram, Facebook, and “X” (formerly Twitter) before bed can turn into hours. 

If your smartphone sits right beside you at night (some people even let it rest or charge under their pillow!), then this can be a problem. It’s too easy to respond to a late night text from your sister, or answer an email from the other side of the world in a second. 

In our technology-driven times, it is amazing that we are always connected no matter where we live in the world. 

But there is a distinct downside to the digital age: we are never truly shut off from it either. 

“You probably don’t even realize how your smartphone habits are affecting your sleep and brain’s health,” says sleep medicine expert Michelle Drerup, PsyD, DBSM.

Scrolling is way worse than watching a relaxing TV show before bed because it is a form of active use, says Drerup. This includes texting and using social media. 

“It’s more what you’re doing with the technology that makes a difference, like actively using your phone.”

Doomscrolling is a big part of this. This refers to taking in all the bad news while you’re scrolling social media and surfing the web. Doomscrolling is distracting, it keeps you awake, and it stimulates your brain, as well as delaying REM sleep, explains Drerup. 

The anxiety associated with Doomscrolling can also prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. “When you’re anxious, it’s hard to turn your mind off to go to sleep.”

One way to stop doomscrolling from taking over your sleep is to localize it, says psychologist Susan Albers, PsyD.

“Localizing means limiting a behavior to a specific time or place,” she says. 

It’s fine to read the news to stay informed, but the idea is to set boundaries and follow through. 

“If you’re scrolling first thing in the morning, plug your phone on the other side of the room so that you don’t pick up your phone before you even get out of bed,” says Albers. 

Picture of Wendy Kaur

Wendy Kaur

Wendy Kaur is a Toronto-based journalist whose work has been published by The Globe & Mail, ELLE USA, ELLE Canada, British Vogue, Town & Country, and others.

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