Sufficient Sleep, but when I wake up early, can't focus or think

Hey everyone, for the past 3 months I’ve been waking up at 4-5am to exercise while getting a consistent 7-7.5 hours of sleep. However, this is starting to take a toll on my career and studies. When I wake up early, I can’t focus very well at work or school. However, 1-2 days a week i wake up at 6:30 with 7.5 hours of sleep and I feel great all day and can focus without any problem.

Has anyone dealt with this before? Due to my decrease of focus in school and work my productivity has gone out the window. I’m considering taking a decent break from cycling to get back on track and get finished up with school (of course, I don’t want to do that though).

I’m wondering if the answer might be to always wake up at the same time and then my body will get it better figured out. But it’s tough to sacrifice family time the rare nights I have it to just go to bed so I can stay consistent. I’m also wondering if my body needs more sleep when i get up earlier. Is that even a thing?

I am in the same boat & having caffeine to try to fix the “brain fog” usually compounds my issues.

Either you’re not actually getting 7.5 hours, or the quality of your sleep is poor. Or both.

I’d maybe get one of those sleep monitor watches and get to the bottom of this.

Perhaps more importantly, are you getting at least 50 hours of sleep per week? Or are you fudging some days? It catches up to you…

Regardless, the simple answer is to go to bed earlier and maybe take a power nap during the day to help with your focus.

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I can only speak for my self but I found that whenever I forced myself to get up early (5am) I just couldn’t focus regardless of how much sleep I would get. I have since accepted this and get up at a normal time (generally between 630 and 7) and do most of my training in the evening. Might squeeze in an easy session before work, but nothing more and not everyday.

I think I just work better later in the day, and having read about this a bit, it seems to be a thing that some people naturally work better earlier or later in the day and that there is biological differences between larks and night owls. It may be advisable to design their sleep schedule around that.

I think there is a) a stigma about getting up later, even if it is beneficial for you and b) a societal thing that says that people who get up earlier will achieve more, be more productive etc. Might be worth shifting your schedule back and training in the evening if you can.

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if the session is HARD you aren’t alone. I’ve done some early 5:30am group rides and am noticeably way more absent minded even if it’s just a 90 min ride than if I wake up at 5am, do my normal work routine, and ride around 1-2pm.

It’s almost like all the endorphins flood REALLY hard at 5:30am and nothing is left.

I think the one guys reply about being honest with sleep #s is key and maybe you save the coffee for 10a and a 15m power nap around 2pm?

Brendan

Try taking the AutoMEQ. This might be circadian rhythm related, and you can adjust your circadian rhythm through the use of judicious timing of low doses of melatonin and a light box.

I stopped almost all caffeine (still have dark chocolate and kombucha) a couple years ago. While I dearly miss the life-affirming comfort of a cup of coffee in the morning, one of the biggest things I’ve noticed is that when I get up in the morning, I’m awake from the jump.

If you think you can handle it, cut caffeine for better sleep and to eliminate that morning drowsiness. I cut it out for different health reasons, but I’ve been pleased with how its affected my sleep specifically and my overall energy throughout the day–as in wake up feeling refreshed and no afternoon crashes.

Also try getting more sleep and see how you feel. 7-7.5 is ok but maybe 8+ hours would make a world of difference for you.

How old are you? Numerous studies tell us teenagers do better sleeping later in the am. Don’t know if you are close to that age group or not.

3 months really is not a long time for retraining your body. Try getting up at 5 no matter what. I (slept in until 5) on non-exercise days and studied. Was great – no one was up making noise. Nap at lunch time.

On exercise days, I would take a nap somewhere about lunch time. I got really good at 20 minute naps. Made a world of difference!

Also look at your fueling after workout days. Don’t sugar spike.

I am 21, so that could very well just be the case. I’ll have to try stretching towards 8-8.5 if possible and see if that helps while being more consistent.

That’s a great point about the sugar spike. If I get in a 1.5+ hour ride I normally have a energy bar (homemade) or the likes , combine that with the occasional post-ride recovery shake and that could be resulting in a crash a few hours later.

If you’re training and life loads are demanding, 7.5 hours may very well not be “sufficient.”

Also, are you comparing (waking at 4-5am and doing a workout) to (waking at 6:30am and not doing a workout) on how you feel and focus the rest of the day, or are you also doing a workout on the 6:30am days?

Doesn’t sound like a sugar crash.

Sounds more like glycogen depletion caused by underfueling, so the opposite of what you’re thinking.

Try a carb drink during the ride. 40-50g/hour. Don’t rely solely on the recovery drink. If you’re fueled during the ride, you won’t even need much in the way of a recovery drink.