Written by DiveThru Team
Reviewed by Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW
Feeling Sleepy: A Guide To Your Emotions
Published Apr 5th, 2021 & updated on Dec 7th, 2021
Some days, we’re full of energy! We feel motivated, productive and can get shit done on our to-do list, no problemo. Other days, though… we just wanna sleep. Hit the hay. Count sheep. Get some shut-eye. Catch some ZZZs. And ya know what? It’s important to pay attention to what our bodies are telling us! If you’re feeling sleepy, there’s a reason for it.
It’s no secret that getting enough sleep is super important for our mental wellbeing. Buuut it can be easier said than done. Even though we feel sleepy, maybe it’s not at “the best time.” We might feel sleepy during class or at work, making it hard to get through our tasks for the day. Or maybe we have a hard time actually falling asleep, even though we’re tired as hell. Hey, there can be a lot on our minds! (Like, do aliens exist? And if so, do they wanna be our friends?!) But when feeling sleepy 24/7 starts to impact on our lives, that can be a big problem. So let’s dive thru feeling sleepy and its relationship to mental wellness!
A Deeper Look At Feeling Sleepy
First of all, let’s define what it means to feel sleepy. Dictionary.com defines sleepy as “adj. ready or inclined to sleep; drowsy.” Yawwwnnn… Sorry, did we put you to sleep just now?
Everyone feels sleepy from time to time. Whether it’s because we didn’t get enough rest the night before, our brains aren’t being stimulated, we’re not being active, or our daily tasks are just draining all of our energy, there’s lots of potential causes for feeling like you could use a snooze! Sometimes, a good nap or making some changes in your schedule can be the solution. Maybe you delegate some of your work tasks so that your day becomes less busy and overwhelming. Or you start a new sleep routine to help you unwind, including a bubble bath, lighting some candles, stretching or drinking a cup of decaf tea before bed. Finding the cause of your sleepiness is a great first step to getting back on track! ‘Cause who likes to feel sluggish all day everyday? NOBODY.
While feeling sleepy at times is a normal part of being a human being, being excessively tired all of the time can be a sign of a larger issue. Here are a few conditions that can cause excessive sleepiness:
1. Sleep Apnea
This condition causes you to abruptly stop breathing during the night, making you feel sleepy during the day. It can also cause snoring (pretty loud!), gasping for air, sore throat, headache, irritability and difficulty focusing.
2. Restless Legs Syndrome
Ever get that feeling when you’re about to fall asleep, but suddenly your legs start twitching and it wakes you up? Well, when this happens every night and each time you start to drift into sleep, it can be a sign of RLS. Basically, it causes a throbbing or itching sensation that makes you wanna move your legs or feel the need to get up and walk around.
One of the most common symptoms of this mental illness is a change in your sleep patterns. You might sleep wayyy more than you usually do, but still feel sleepy and not well rested when you wake up. Or you might toss and turn all night struggling to fall asleep, which obviously makes you super tired. You don’t feel like yourself, and it can really affect your mood and overall wellbeing.
Like we said, everyone feels tired sometimes. But if you feel excessively sleepy too often, it can impact your life in negative ways. Take notice of what your mind and body are telling you! Let’s look at some more ways sleepiness impacts your health, both mentally and physically.
How Feeling Sleepy Shows Up Mentally
Lack of sleep is a common symptom for many mental conditions, including depression, anxiety, bipolar and ADHD. A few other mental indicators of sleepiness includes:
– Lack of focus
– Brain fog
– Difficulty making decisions
– Poor memory
Try to remove some of the stressors in your life, or set a nighttime routine to help regulate your sleep. If your sleepiness persists and affects your ability to go through your normal daily routine, it’s best to speak with a doctor to help with this problem.
How Feeling Sleepy Shows Up Physically
Sleepiness can be a result of stress and other physical health problems. Here are a few medical conditions that can cause you to feel sleepy:
– Poor nutrition
– Thyroid problems
– Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
– Anemia and iron deficiency
– Autoimmune disorders such as lupus, celiac disease, and rheumatoid arthritis
We repeat: listen. to. your. body. Yes, it’s normal to feel tired sometimes. But if you’re constantly sleepy and have a hard time keeping up with life as normal, there could be a serious reason! It’s important to seek medical attention if your sleepiness continues, despite your best efforts to improve it. There might be a medical reason that needs attention. Don’t ride it out!
5 Ways to Cope With Feeling Sleepy
Okay, so you’re sleepy. But you’re trying to snap out of it so you can get through the day, focus on your tasks and crush your goals. You’ve come to the right place! We have some coping strategies for you whenever you’re feeling sleepy and could use a pick-me-up. Try ‘em out!
1. Practice The 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Exercise
This practice is great for keeping you alert and improving focus! Engage all five senses and mindfully notice five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. Go in any order that makes sense for you and your current situation – no pressure!
2. Run Your Hands Under Water, Splash Your Face With Water, Hold An Ice Cube
This method might sound weird, but we swear it works. Try to mindfully note the temperature of the water and the sensation of the water on your skin. The sensation helps by slowing your heart rate, lowering your cortisol levels (stress hormone), and releasing endorphins (happy hormone). Plus, it’s refreshing AF.
3. Move Your Body
Exercise is probably the last thing on your mind when you feel sleepy. But trust us, it’ll wake you up! Go for a walk, stretch, ride a bike, dance, you name it. Exercise releases endorphins, improves your mood, boosts your energy and improves focus. What can’t it do, really?!
4. Give Yourself A Pep Talk
If getting through the day when you feel sleepy is a struggle, don’t be hard on yourself. Try giving yourself a little pep talk! Even though I’m sleepy, I’m gonna give it my all today. I can get through this. Soon, I can go home to relax and unwind.
5. Find A Positive Distraction
When you’re feeling sleepy, crawling into your warm bed is probably all you can think about. Instead, find a positive activity that takes your mind elsewhere! Listen to a podcast, pick up a book, do a crossword puzzle, watch a funny show or take a shower. Do something that perks you up and makes you feel a lil’ more alert!
That’s all for now, sleepyhead. We hope these tips help get you through the day when you’re feeling tired. Remember: getting enough rest is self care!