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11 Ways to Have More Energy in the Morning Once and for All

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How to have more energy in the morning?

You can have more energy in the morning by:

1. Lowering sleep debt

2. Living in sync with your circadian rhythm

3. Shortening sleep inertia

4. Planning your day with sleep inertia in mind

5. Waking up to the right alarm

6. Getting natural light

7. Drinking a cup of coffee

8. Getting some exercise

9. Taking a cold shower

10. Having a morning routine you look forward to

11. Speaking to a doctor.

The RISE app can help you with all of these to have more energy in the morning once and for all.

Nothing feels worse than your alarm clock going off when you’re not ready for it. You hit the snooze button once, twice, or quite a few times, only to keep waking up feeling tired. 

And even when you do drag yourself out of bed, you go about your morning routine with fatigue that lingers long into the day and the urge to grab the strongest energy drinks out there.  

If this is you, we’ve got the answer. Below, we’ll explain the two biggest things that make a difference to your energy levels in the morning: sleep debt and circadian alignment. Then, we’ll cover how you can get these two things right and other ways you can battle morning grogginess. Plus, we’ll show you how the RISE app can help you have more energy in the morning once and for all. 

Why Am I Tired When I Wake Up?

Sleep inertia, sleep debt, and not living in sync with your circadian rhythm are the most common reasons you're tired when you wake up. Additional lifestyle factors including poor diet, lack of exercise, and stress, plus a sleep disorder or a medical condition could be at play as well.

  • Sleep inertia: The most common reason you’re waking up tired is sleep inertia – the groggy feeling you get when you first wake up. It can last anywhere from 15 minutes to about two hours, and it’s totally normal, even if you’ve had enough sleep.
  • Sleep debt: If you haven’t been meeting your sleep need, you’ll have built up sleep debt, and this debt will make you feel tired as your body simply hasn’t had enough sleep. You’ll feel tired in general when you’ve got a lot of sleep debt, but when you’re recovering from sleep loss, sleep inertia will feel more intense. 
  • Not living in sync with your circadian rhythm: Your circadian rhythm, and not living in sync with it, is another reason you may be waking up feeling tired. This rhythm is your internal biological clock that runs on a roughly 24-hour cycle. It dictates things like when you feel tired, awake, and when your body produces certain hormones. An irregular sleep schedule or living at odds with your chronotype (perhaps you’re a night owl who has to get up early for work) are common causes of circadian misalignment. Even if you’re getting enough sleep, being out of sync with your circadian rhythm can make you feel sleepy when morning rolls around.
  • Additional lifestyle factors: Other causes of morning fatigue include sleep disorders, like sleep apnea and insomnia, lifestyle factors including poor diet, lack of exercise, stress, and consuming too much alcohol, medical conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome, anemia, thyroid problems like hypothyroidism, and mental health issues, nutritional deficiencies like an iron deficiency, medications like antidepressants and blood pressure meds, and illnesses (including COVID).

How Do I Get More Energy in the Morning?

Here are 11 science-backed ways to reclaim your mornings. 

1. Lower Your Sleep Debt

If you’ve got sleep debt, the first step to getting more energy in general and lessening sleep inertia in the morning is to pay some of this back.

RISE app screenshot showing how much sleep debt you have
The RISE app can work out how much sleep debt you have.

Sleep debt is the measure of how much sleep you owe your body. It’s compared against your sleep need — the genetically determined amount of sleep you need. In the RISE app we tally it over 14 nights. 

Getting eight hours of sleep may not be enough — despite what the common recommendation says. That’s because everyone’s sleep need is different. One study revealed an average sleep need of 8 hours 40 minutes, plus or minus 10 minutes or so, but 13.5% of the population may need 9 hours or more sleep a night.

For a quick and accurate way of working out your sleep need, turn to the RISE app. RISE uses your phone use behavior and proprietary sleep-science-based models to work out your individual sleep need and give you a number to aim for in hours and minutes. 

RISE can also work out how much sleep debt you’re carrying. While having zero sleep debt is great, it’s also an unrealistic goal. We recommend keeping sleep debt below five hours to maximize your energy levels. 

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to view their sleep need and here to view their sleep debt. 

While the jury’s still out on whether it’s possible to pay back chronic sleep debt — the kind that’s built up over many months and years — research shows you can pay back acute sleep debt, the short-term kind you’ve built up over the last 14 nights. 

You can catch up on sleep by: 

  • Taking naps: The best time to nap is during your afternoon dip in energy, as you’re feeling sleepier at that point anyway, and sleeping at this time is less likely to impact your nighttime sleep. Check RISE to see when this time is. 
  • Going to sleep a little earlier. 
  • Sleeping in a little later: Keep this to an hour or two to avoid disrupting your circadian rhythm. If you’ve got a lot of sleep debt, it may take a few days to pay it back. 
  • Improving your sleep hygiene: This is the set of behaviors you can do throughout the day to help you fall asleep faster and wake up less often during the night, so you get more sleep overall. 

Sleep hygiene can also help you meet your sleep need night after night. The behaviors include things like avoiding caffeine and large meals too close to bedtime; getting natural light in the morning and avoiding light come evening; and keeping your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet. 

You can learn more about sleep hygiene here and RISE can guide you through 20+ sleep hygiene habits to help you stay on top of them all. 

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to set up their 20+ in-app habit notifications.

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2. Live in Sync with Your Circadian Rhythm 

Even if you’re getting enough sleep, being out of sync with your circadian rhythm can zap you of energy in the morning. And being in sync has health benefits, too, as research shows circadian misalignment increases your risk of everything from heart disease to obesity to cancer. 

You might be out of sync if: 

  • You work night shifts
  • You’ve got an irregular sleep schedule. If this is you, you’re not alone. About 87% of us have social jet lag and wake up at least two hours later on weekends.
  • You’re living at odds with your chronotype — like a night owl forcing themselves to be a morning person 

Your energy levels naturally fluctuate throughout the day as part of this circadian rhythm, so if you wake up during a circadian low point, you’ll feel more tired than usual. 

Plus, if you wake up at an odd time that your body isn’t used to getting up at, you could be waking up halfway through a sleep cycle in a deep sleep phase. This makes you feel much groggier compared to waking up during other sleep phases. 

What’s more, your body temperature fluctuates throughout the day and night with your circadian rhythm, and research shows if you wake up when your body temperature is at its lowest — usually around 4 a.m. depending on your bedtime and chronotype — you’ll suffer from more grogginess. 

You can stay in sync with your circadian rhythm by: 

  • Keeping a consistent sleep schedule: Your sleep and alertness hormones and body temperature can run on a cycle that matches when you want energy and when you want to be sleepy. One study even found a group of participants with a consistent sleep schedule had more energy than those without a schedule, even when both groups got enough sleep.
  • Eating meals at roughly the same times: And avoid eating at night or eating too close to bedtime
  • Honoring your chronotype: If possible, go to sleep when your body naturally prefers to. If you’re a night owl, for example, and you have the flexibility to do so, go to bed and sleep in later. This will also help you meet your sleep need each night. More on what to do if you don’t have this flexibility soon. 
  • Going to sleep during your Melatonin Window: There’s a time of night when your body’s rate of melatonin production (the sleep hormone) is at its highest. In the RISE app, we call this roughly one-hour window your Melatonin Window. If you head to bed during this time, you’ll have a much easier time falling and staying asleep. RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to set up a daily Melatonin Window reminder.

RISE can predict your circadian rhythm each day and show you when your body wants to wake up and go to sleep. This will help you sync up your daily life with it. 

Want more science-backed solutions? We’ve covered how to wake yourself up here.

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to see their circadian rhythm on the Energy screen.

RISE app screenshot showing your melatonin window
The RISE app can tell you the best time to go to bed each night.

3. Shorten Sleep Inertia  

If your sleep debt is low and you’re living in sync with your circadian rhythm, there’s another reason you're waking up tired: sleep inertia. 

Sleep inertia happens even when you’ve had enough sleep. You’ll probably feel the effects for about 60 to 90 minutes and may feel disorientated, sleepy, and brain foggy

Sleep inertia doesn’t just make you feel sleepy, though. You won’t be performing as well as you usually do, both mentally and physically. A 2019 paper said the performance impairment from sleep inertia is the same as or worse than 40 hours of sleep deprivation. 

How long it takes to get over sleep inertia is different for each of us. 

Research suggests night owls may take longer to get over sleep inertia than early birds. One study found it took early birds 10 to 20 minutes to show improvements in their cognitive performance after awakening, whereas it took about 30 minutes for night owls to show improvements. 

Waking up to the right alarm clock, natural light, coffee, and exercise can all help combat sleep inertia. We’ll dive into each of these shortly. 

RISE app screenshot showing your energy peak and dip times
The RISE app can tell you how long your morning grogginess is expected to last. 

4. Schedule Your Day With Sleep Inertia in Mind 

Sleep inertia is, unfortunately, a fact of life. Even if you get enough sleep each night and line this up nicely with your circadian rhythm, you’ll still feel a little groggy when you first wake up. 

You can check RISE to see how long your morning grogginess is expected to last — we call this your “grogginess zone.” This way, you know when you can expect your energy levels and mental performance to pick up. 

While you wait, use this grogginess time to do simple tasks — like emails, admin, or writing up your to-do list — get some exercise or natural light, or spend the time doing a relaxing morning routine. 

And if you have an important task or event you need to be “on” for, consider waking up 90 minutes before it to give yourself enough time to shake off the grogginess. Just be careful you don’t build up too much sleep debt with the earlier wake-up time. Go to bed a little earlier to make sure you’re still meeting your sleep need. 

We cover steps you can take to meet an earlier bedtime here. 

More on the best times to go to sleep and wake up for you here.

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to see their upcoming energy peaks and dips on the Energy screen.

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5. Wake Up to the Right Alarm

Sound is a key factor in waking us up but not all sounds are equally effective or beneficial. Abrupt, harsh alarms can be harmful to our health over time, as they may trigger adrenaline surges that can impact our heart health

Instead, consider gentler alternatives like gradual sounds, lower pitch sounds, melodic sounds, or sounds that make you want to move. These can help you wake more peacefully, improve mood, and curb sleep inertia. (Research shows listening to music generally can boost energy levels, whereas sitting in silence can make you feel more tired.) 

Non-auditory alarms can also be effective. Gradual light changes mimic natural sunlight and can gently stimulate awakening, while certain smells, like coffee, can make it easier to get out of bed. Vibrations from smart watches or fitness trackers are also an alternative for a less disruptive wake-up.

The RISE alarm combines these principles. It uses your sleep data to tailor an alarm with melodic sounds or music, and can even activate vibration on your phone or Apple Watch for a wake-up method that considers your individual circadian rhythm and amount of sleep debt to leave you with more morning energy. 

6. Get Natural Light

Natural light signals to your brain that it’s time to be awake. It suppresses melatonin and resets your circadian rhythm for the day, and research suggests it could improve how sleepy you feel when you first wake up. 

It also boosts production of the hormone cortisol, which helps you feel more alert, and serotonin, which boosts your mood. 

Aim to get at least 10 minutes of natural light as soon as possible after waking up. And if it’s cloudy outside or you’re getting your light exposure through a window, aim for 15-20 minutes. 

If you need to wake up when it’s dark outside, consider using a dawn simulator. More research needs to be done into dawn simulators, but studies suggest they can reduce sleepiness and perhaps even improve performance upon awakening. A 10,000 lux light therapy lamp can also help you get light exposure when you can’t get out in sunlight. 

Expert tip for more energy: Trying to wake yourself up during a night shift? Research from 2020 found red light can help shift workers feel more alert without messing up their melatonin levels and sleep after their shift. 

We’ve covered more on the best color light at each time of day here.

7. Enjoy a Cup of Coffee 

Coffee is a quick fix for low energy. Caffeine temporarily blocks adenosine receptors in your brain, so it can give you an energy boost and help you overcome sleep inertia.

And the morning is the perfect time to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee, as caffeine lasts in your system longer than you’d think and it can easily disrupt your sleep if you drink it too late in the day. 

You learn more about how long caffeine lasts here. You can also use RISE to see your unique caffeine cutoff time each day. RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to set up their limit caffeine reminder.

Not a coffee or tea fan? Grab a glass of water, at least. The very act of drinking water can help you feel more alert and hydration keeps you feeling your best and can even help you get enough sleep each night, and therefore more energy each day.  

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8. Get Some Exercise 

Exercise isn’t just good for your weight loss, it can help fight morning fatigue, too. 

Working out triggers your body into releasing cortisol to make you feel more alert, serotonin to boost your mood, and endorphins, or “feel-good hormones.” It also increases blood flow to the brain

A 2021 study looked at how exercise impacted sleep inertia and compared high-intensity exercise, low-intensity exercise, and no exercise. It found high-intensity exercise reduced sleep inertia the most. 

The best part? The participants only exercised for 30 seconds. So, even if you don’t have time to get to the gym before work, you can still use a short burst of physical activity to shake off that post-sleep grogginess. 

Plus, regular exercise can improve your energy levels in general throughout the day and even help you sleep better each night. And that’s not even mentioning the general well-being and mental health benefits. 

So, start your day with some physical activity, and bonus points if you can work out outside in natural light.  

9. Take a Cold Shower 

It’s hard to feel sleepy when you’re taking an icy shower. Cold water increases your heart rate, metabolism, and blood pressure for an energizing boost. Follow your outdoor exercise with a cold shower for a morning energy triple whammy. 

10. Have a Morning Routine You Look Forward To 

A morning routine doesn’t have to be all about optimizing your health and productivity, though. It should also be something you enjoy. 

When you have a morning routine you look forward to, you’ll find it easier to get out of bed and be less likely to hit the snooze button. This is especially helpful if you’re a night owl trying to become a morning person

So, make time for self-care activities in the mornings. This could include listening to a chapter of an audiobook or your favorite playlist, for example. Or it could mean playing with your kids or taking your dog for a walk.

We show you how the RISE app can help you create your ideal, energizing morning routine here. 

11. Speak to a Doctor 

Most of the time, a lack of energy in the morning is caused by sleep debt and/or being out of sync with your circadian rhythm. But, if you’ve fixed these and still find yourself feeling tired, it might be worth speaking with your healthcare provider. 

They can test you for sleep disorders and medical conditions that could be making you tired, such as: 

  • Insomnia
  • Sleep apnea
  • Restless leg syndrome 
  • Hypersomnia 
  • Mental health issues like depression and anxiety 
  • Iron deficiency anemia 
  • Diabetes 
  • Chronic fatigue 

How Do I Get More Energy in the Morning if I’m a Night Owl?

Your chronotype is your natural tendency to sleep and wake up earlier or later — you may have heard the terms early birds and night owls, although many of us are somewhere in between. 

And out of all the people who struggle with energy in the morning, night owls have got to be the ones having the hardest time. They don’t just have a preference for sleeping in, though. Night owls are biologically wired to go to sleep and wake up later than early birds. 

Plus, if you’re a night owl who has to get up early, you’re more likely to have sleep debt (perhaps you struggle to fall asleep early enough to meet your sleep need) and social jet lag (perhaps you indulge in a long lay in when the weekend rolls around, messing up your body clock), which only adds to your morning grogginess. 

As well as paying down sleep debt and adding exercise and natural light to your morning routine, you can work to shift your circadian rhythm earlier, so you’re not so out of sync with it. 

Before you do this, first ask yourself if you have to wake up early. If you have a strict 9 a.m. start time at work or kids to get ready for school, then the answer is obviously yes. 

If your wake-up time is more flexible, however, consider honoring your chronotype and waking up later. This doesn’t make you lazy or less productive than morning people, and you should feel more energy by working with, not against, your body clock. 

For those night owls who want more energy in the mornings, here’s what to do: 

  • Shift your bedtime and wake time gradually: Start going to sleep and waking up 15 to 30 minutes earlier each night. This will give your body clock time to adjust. Depending on how much you’re trying to move your schedule by, this may take a few nights. 
  • Get early light exposure and take melatonin supplements: Well-timed light and melatonin supplements can shift your circadian rhythm earlier, helping you fall asleep at your new bedtime. Check RISE for the best time to do these things. 
  • Shift your meal and exercise times: Both of these things are zeitgebers, or cues that time your circadian rhythm to the outside world. When you shift your sleep times, be sure to shift your meal and workout times in the same direction and by the same amount. 
  • Schedule challenging tasks earlier in the day: Night owls may be used to doing difficult work tasks late at night, but try to schedule these for your first morning peak in energy (check RISE for when this is). This will help you keep to the earlier schedule more easily. 

You can learn more about how to reset your circadian rhythm here. 

Reclaim Your Mornings 

If you’ve got high sleep debt or you’re living out of sync with your circadian rhythm, you’ll inevitably feel tired each morning. But, even when you get a good night’s sleep and this sleep is lined up nicely with your body clock, sleep inertia can still make you feel groggy for up to 90 minutes after getting out of bed. 

Make yourself a cup of coffee, get some exercise, and bask in natural light to help overcome grogginess. Use the RISE app to pay down sleep debt and sync up with your circadian rhythm to maximize your energy levels in the morning, and check the app to see how long your morning grogginess will last, so you can make the most of the time.


How to have more energy in the morning?

1. Lower sleep debt, 2. Live in sync with your circadian rhythm, 3. Shorten sleep inertia, 4. Plan your day with sleep inertia in mind, 5. Wake up to the right alarm, 6. Get natural light, 7. Drink a cup of coffee, 8. Get some exercise, 9. Take a cold shower, 10. Have a morning routine you look forward to, 11. Speak to a doctor. The RISE app can help you with all of these to have more energy in the morning once and for all.

Why do I feel so tired when I wake up?

You’ll feel tired when you wake up if you’ve got sleep debt or you’re not in sync with your circadian rhythm. Sleep inertia is also at play. This makes you feel groggy after waking up, even when you’ve had enough sleep. Wake up to the right alarm clock, get natural light, drink some coffee, and exercise to help shake this off.

How can I boost my energy?

You can boost your energy by lowering your sleep debt and syncing up with your circadian rhythm. Naps, a healthy diet, exercise, and natural light can all help boost energy, too.

How to get more energy naturally

You can get more energy naturally by focusing on your sleep. Find out your sleep need, lower your sleep debt, and sync up your sleep-wake times with your circadian rhythm to boost your energy levels. Other natural energy boosters include naps, coffee, exercise, natural light, and cold water showers.

Why do I feel sleepy in the morning and awake at night?

If you feel sleepy in the morning and awake at night, you may be out of sync with your circadian rhythm, or body clock. This happens if you’re a shift worker, you have social jet lag (you go to sleep at different times at the weekend compared to during the week), or you’re not honoring your chronotype (like if you’re a night owl who has to get up early).

How to feel energized in the morning with little sleep

If you haven’t had enough sleep, it’s hard to feel energized in the morning. But caffeine, natural light, exercise, and cold showers can help. Work to catch up on sleep when you can through naps or sleeping for longer the next night.

About Our Editorial Team

Written by
Jeff Kahn, M.S., Rise Science Co-Founder
Reviewed by
Chester Wu, MD, Rise Science Medical Reviewer
Our Editorial Standards
We bring sleep research out of the lab and into your life. Every post begins with peer-reviewed studies — not third-party sources — to make sure we only share advice that can be defended to a room full of sleep scientists.
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Updated Regularly
We regularly update our articles to explain the latest research and shifts in scientific consensus in a simple and actionable way.

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