How do healthy people feel in the morning?
June 28, 2013 9:26 PM   Subscribe

I’m not sure what I should be expecting anymore. How I feel, energy-wise, especially in the morning, varies quite a bit depending on... well, so many factors I can't keep track of them all. I want to know what I should be aiming for as I work with my doctors (or, perhaps, hoping for at some indefinite point in the future if I can't influence it now).

I'll try to keep this out of chatfilter as much as I can, so: I'm looking for responses from relatively healthy, independent people, 20's to 30's, with a wide range of lifestyles.

How do you feel when you wake up most days? Ignoring mornings that you’re hung over or sick or otherwise abnormal, what are your typical mornings like? If you’re zombified when you wake up, how long does it take to unzombify? When do you finally get the energy to start doing things - and what kinds of things? Or do you wake up feeling refreshed most mornings, and ready to be productive? What is it that wakes you up, and what is it that gets you out of bed?

What do you do for breakfast? Coffee/tea first? Finish your coffee, then make breakfast; or run out the door and grab coffee and a pastry/donut/something fast at the same time?

What’s your appetite like through the day? What works for you for breakfast, and how do you keep that breakfast available to yourself? If you can’t stand breakfast, when do you first start to get hungry?

For comparison, these days what gets me out of bed is that now I'm too sore or headachey from sleeping to stay in bed, or I'm excessively hungry because I missed dinner (due to flip-flopping appetite). So I get up, get coffee, something to eat if I have something easy available, but I'm not feeling great enough to concentrate on anything, so I catch up on social media all morning.

Really, I'm trying to figure out if there's something excessively wrong with my energy levels, or if I'm just being lazy, or if it could be a kind of depression keeping me from doing what I should do and taking care of myself - because I just can't tell the difference any more - and then once I have an idea of that, start establishing more realistic routines.
posted by mock muppet to Health & Fitness (32 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Typical morning: wake up between 7am and 8am. Shower, coffee, sometimes breakfast. Check emails/social media feeds/start work.

Breakfast, when I eat it: oatmeal with an apple or banana and honey.

Appetite throughout the day: I don't snack. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Sometimes I eat a really large dinner or eat it late, and so can't stomach eating breakfast the following morning. That's not especially healthy.
posted by dfriedman at 9:44 PM on June 28, 2013

I'm a healthy, somewhat active guy in my early 20s. I cycle recreationally, walk a lot, and eat relatively healthy compared to most of my friends. I also don't really do any drugs and only drink a couple times a week.

How do you feel when you wake up most days?

Pretty good, if i got enough sleep. I sleep like a brick unless something wakes me up. I only really get one shot at it, and if i do get woken up i have an awful time falling asleep again.

If you’re zombified when you wake up, how long does it take to unzombify?

Roughly 6 songs to one normal length album worth of music on my phone, is what i recently discovered. This includes mornings when i have to get up really early for something. After that i pretty much feel the same as i would if i slept in til 1pm. The only thing that varies is how much i'll sleep if i don't set an alarm, which is generally based on how much sleep i got the night before. So pretty much, after about a half hour from waking up happens i'm ready to do basically anything. If i slept in late i'm ready as soon as i have my pants on.

do you wake up feeling refreshed most mornings, and ready to be productive?

Yep, but i often cherish a few minutes in bed of just surfing the internet on my smartphone. Sometimes i force myself to just get up and go and i'm fine though, it seems like entirely psychological lazyness and not some waiting time for my brain to fully boot up unless i got up abnormally early. Which for me, is before about 10-11am.

What do you do for breakfast?

Lunch type stuff generally, unless i specifically go out for breakfast or it's a weekend. I'll either eat a light lunch(salad, little pasta dish, some fruit maybe. possibly some bread and hummus, maybe some greek yoghurt...) or get some kind of small takeout.

I also historically wouldn't be hungry for at least an hour after i woke up, and this is still true if i wake up at "morning" time like 6-8am. However, if i get up at 11 i'm usually ready to eat within 10-20 minutes.

As to the rest, on the sore and headachey thing alone that reminds me of an old place i lived in where my room got awful airflow and the air would always be stale and gross when i woke up smelling like sour human exhaust. I'd usually be sore and headachey like that. Do you leave a window cracked? and does your room smell weird in the morning or just "stale"?

I'm trying to figure out if there's something excessively wrong with my energy levels

That doesn't sound normal to me, no. I don't know if depression is an effector here, but something is definitely up.

How much coffee do you drink, and how frequently? i've almost entirely cut caffeine out of my life(like less than 4 times a week, sometimes 0) and it made a HUGE difference in how i felt all the time.
posted by emptythought at 9:49 PM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm a healthy 32 year old.

The biggest difference in the way I feel when I wake up has to do with sleep, and by extension, work.

When I was working 60 hours a week, doing 12+ hour shifts, it was fucking IMPOSSIBLE to wake up. Every single morning was me hitting snooze as many times as possible, multiple alarms, dragging my ass out the door, coffee on the way to work, either falling back to sleep or a total zombie on the subway.

And, then, because of my dependence on caffeine, I always felt like shit when I woke up, even if I got a normal amount of sleep.

Now I work much fewer hours, go to bed at a reasonable time of night, and mostly wake up on my own without the aid of an alarm. I set one alarm, just in case tomorrow is the day I oversleep by hours. Frankly, I'm now able to set an alarm for much earlier than I actually have to be up for work and actually get things done in the mornings. Before, I marveled at people who could do that.

So IMO it's all about work hours, how much sleep you get*, and the caffeine/alcohol wake and sleep cycle that many people develop in response to not having enough hours in the day.

*that said, I find that I typically get the same number of hours of sleep I used to, I'm just not nearly as exhausted when I go to bed. Because I'm not coming off a 12 hour shift.
posted by Sara C. at 10:36 PM on June 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

I'm a woman in my mid-twenties, and while I'm not in peak health or anything, I am reasonably healthy. If I get 7-8 hours of sleep, then this is is how most of my mornings go:

How do you feel when you wake up most days? I more or less automatically wake up at dawn, and then nap for another hour. (When it's dark longer, I tend to automatically wake up around 5:30-6:00 am.) By the time I actually get out of bed, I feel basically okay, but it's like my brain is in the process of turning on. By the time I'm out of the shower, I've finished "turning on" my brain and have moved on to the "warming up" period for my brain, which consists of idly surfing the internet for about 45 minutes to an hour.

What do you do for breakfast? Once I've finished my warm up period and have dressed, I get started on breakfast. Breakfast for me is instant oatmeal and fruit juice, or some non-sugar filled breakfast cereal and fruit juice, both of which are minimal effort. I have tea when I get to the office. I have another couple cups of tea in the late afternoon. My cut off time for caffeine is about 7 PM. Caffeine after that (unless I'm out late) is a recipe for uneasy sleep.

On weekends, I take it much slower and have a later breakfast because lazy, basically. My relatively slow wake up routine is less a matter of energy levels than it is inherent laziness and not liking to be rushed in the mornings.

I don't know if this will help you, but the biggest factors for me waking up with good energy levels and no headache or grogginess are getting my necessary 7-8 uninterrupted hours, and being properly hydrated. Your waking up with a headache suggests to me that maybe you're dehydrated and are essentially waking up with a hangover because of it.

Oh, and I am more groggy if I wake up mid-dream cycle, but it's not a big enough deal for me to attempt to time my sleep to avoid it. Maybe try this bedtime calculator to see if you're waking up mid-dream cycle?
posted by yasaman at 10:45 PM on June 28, 2013

I am 33, relatively healthy (despite being fairly overweight--which I am working on!--I have no chronic conditions and my last physical showed everything in good working order), and live with my wife.

Typically, I roll out of bed around 9am although since my birthday I've been waking up closer to 8am. I feel like this is my Old Man Switch being flipped but it may just be we live in a new place with lots of windows so I get a lot more light in the morning.

How I feel depends what day of the week it is. I am a natural night owl and my natural schedule would have me staying up til 3-4am if I didn't have to work and make contact with the normal world, so if I give into my urge to stay up late, I may be a little groggy and that may carry over through the week. Normally, I'm pretty okay.

I've never been a morning person and am a bit of a slow starter so I wake up, make my protein shake and sip it while I read email, Metafilter, adjust my fantasy baseball/football teams, check in on Facebook and Twitter, and muster up the energy to log into my work email and start my workday. (I work from home). I'm not zombiefied, more it takes me a bit to get the metaphorical engines warmed up, so I give myself time for that.

I ease into the day is the way I'd put it because while I do enjoy sleep, I'm so much more calmer and level-headed than my brethren that try to wring every last second of sleep possible via snooze and scrambling around at the last second and flailing out the door. It sets a better tone for the day and keeps my stress much lower than 10 minutes of half-ass sleeping would, in my experience.

Breakfast is a protein shake. I'd prefer to do nothing because I hate food in the morning but I get cranky if I go that route, so a shake is my preferred method. If I need something a little more solid/filling, I'll do a bowl of Cheerios. I keep a tub of protein powder on top the fridge, dump a scoop in the blender, add ice and water, mix, pour, done.

Not to belabor the point, but when I had to cut out caffeine, my sleep cycle got much better and my energy levels evened out and I wouldn't get in that cycle where I'm using a ton of caffeine to stay up late, then crashing and not getting enough sleep, then using a ton of caffeine to make up for not getting enough sleep, then being too amped to sleep see where this is going. It also means I can't push my sleep debt as far as I used to because I am getting tired and there's nothing to be done about it. If I stay up way late and start getting tired at 10pm the next day, eventually I'm going to bed rather than caffinating my way out of it.

The headache is interesting. I wonder if you're getting dehydrated or not being hydrated enough during the day.

On Saturdays if it's my usual routine, I spring right out of bed and go running, which is completely different from my usual routine and I kind of love starting the day like that. Nothing like a good burst of activity, then spending the rest of the day coasting on endorphins.

Sunday's my rest day, both exercise-ly and generally, so I may lay around catnapping then trundle out to the couch and doze and watch sports.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:47 PM on June 28, 2013

And to actually answer your specific questions (my renewed sleep schedule does not seem to affect my reading comprehension!)

How do you feel when you wake up most days?

Pretty good? Not like WOO IM ALIVE THIS IS THE BEST! but I'm up and not disgruntled about it or dragging myself out of bed. There are definitely still mornings I'd like to sleep longer, but it's just not at all the battle that it used to be. 12 hour shift me: "UGH NO THIS IS THE WORST I WISH I WERE DEAD." 7-8 hour shift me: "OH ITS MORNING. WELL, OK."

What do you do for breakfast?

I walk the dog for an hour immediately after waking up, then I make coffee. On mornings I'm headed into the office, I'll take my coffee in a go cup and drink it on the way to work, along with an energy bar or some kind of pastry or other portable food. On mornings I work from home, I linger over coffee and eat whatever I feel like whenever I'm hungry. I have a bad habit of forgetting to eat breakfast when I work from home, but it doesn't seem to have an impact on my sleep or how I feel in the mornings.

What’s your appetite like through the day?

Despite the wonderful quality of my sleep, my eating habits are much more erratic and subject to getting out of whack. I'm much more likely to be irritable from hunger because I forgot to eat or didn't plan for a meal break than I am to be irritable because I didn't sleep well and there isn't enough coffee in the world to un zombify me. I blame my lack of a regular schedule for this. I need to get better about having regular meal breaks and specific plans for said breaks. I tend to put off eating if I get busy, and then suddenly it's 3pm and I'm in a snit because I haven't eaten yet today. Again, none of this seems to have anything to do with my sleep, which is A #1 would sleep again.
posted by Sara C. at 10:48 PM on June 28, 2013

Relatively healthy person (35 years old), but NOT a morning person.

It is REALLY hard for me to wake up in the mornings. Typically, one of two things happens:

- I sleep through the night to my alarm at 7:30, at which point I let my puppy out of his crate (which is in my room), he hops in bed with me and I hit snooze a bunch of times for anywhere from half an hour to an hour.

- The puppy wakes me up earlier and after letting him out to pee, I go back to bed and either fall back asleep right away or surf the internet on my phone until I fall asleep until my alarm goes off. It tends to be

I'm pretty much always a zombie when I finally get up until I have my coffee and breakfast and clear the cobwebs out.

Breakfast: usually cereal with milk and coffee. If I have time, then I'll have fried/scrambled eggs and toast with coffee. Either usually keep me reasonably full until lunch.
posted by lunasol at 11:11 PM on June 28, 2013

I am healthy and get plenty of good quality sleep.

I wake up wanting to go back to sleep and stay in bed, but that is mainly because it is winter and outside the bed is cold. In summer I find it easier to get up. I also naturally tend to sleep until 10 am or so if I don't have to go to work.

On a work day, I push past that feeling of wanting to go to sleep, and stumble straight into the shower, feeling like a zombie. Two minutes in the shower wakes me up completely and by the time I am dry and have my clothes on, I usually feel good. I certainly couldn't go back to sleep at that point even if I wanted to, nor do I have any desire to.

I never feel hungry first thing and have been this way since I was a child. I have accepted it, so don't bother trying to force myself to eat. I drink a coffee with milk when I arrive at work, go to the gym mid-morning, and then have my first meal of the day after that: usually around 11am. That meal is usually some sort of vegetable thing and a protein shake on the side. Sometimes I have oatmeal for that meal instead, but usually stir in nuts and Greek yoghurt, or protein powder, to help keep me full for longer.

I get hungry again around 3 or 4pm and have a large snack. Sometimes it's just a second helping of whatever I had for lunch. Sometimes it's toast, or a sandwich, or some fruit and yoghurt. Then I don't usually feel hungry again until dinner at 6:30 or 7pm. After dinner I sometimes feel like I want to snack all evening, but I think that is boredom and sugar addiction more than anything. If the feeling is particularly strong I make a note to eat more during the day the following day and that often helps. I try to have at least four nights a week where I don't snack after dinner, and on the other nights I try to make it a bowl of cereal, some fruit, or some toast, rather than junk food.

My weight is pretty stable, within the average/non-overweight-non-underweight range for my height. I exercise quite a lot - bicycle commute to work every day, running 8km three times a week, and lifting weights at the gym three other days, plus a couple of yoga or other "low-intensity" gym workouts.

My energy levels are pretty stable most days. I sometimes have a bit of an energy crash about an hour after I go to the gym, where I suddenly need to nap. Sometimes I get intense nap cravings around 4pm, especially nowadays when the sun is starting to go down then too. This only happens once or twice a week, though. I tend to start feeling tired and sleepy at about 10pm or 10:30pm at the latest, and go to bed shortly after that. Then I often read for an hour.
posted by lollusc at 11:18 PM on June 28, 2013

I get up because my alarm goes off and I have to go to work. Weekends, it depends how I'm feeling. Sometimes I try to 'roll over and go back to sleep' until it becomes boring (clock reads 9... 9:45... 10:20... 10:30... 10:35... 10:37... ok, I'm up.) Sometimes the sun comes in and I just want to go be awake and enjoy the day.

That happens a lot more if there's something I'm looking forward to - my favorite kind of weather, or the living room is clean and cozy and I want to go curl up on the sofa, or I'm supposed to meet a friend somewhere for something.

Lately, I've had pretty bad insomnia. I wake up from some stressful dream, very tense, and have to get up and move around a bit to feel better. It's left me feeling kind of crummy since I lose half an hour or more in the middle of my night, but the alarm still goes off at the same time in the morning. (That time is 8:30. I usually go to bed between midnight and 1.)

Lately I also haven't had an appetite hardly at all - I think it's from the stress. I eat a little something out of a combination of hunger and habit, but then I get distracted or bored with it. A few hours later I get hungry again and eat another small bit of something. That's not really normal for me; usually I will eat delicious things until there aren't any more of them, and eat plenty at dinner to tide me through the evening.

I have learned that if I don't eat something before work then I get ravenous at 10:30-11, and I don't really want to scavenge for food then (all the restaurants are closed, cafeteria's not open yet, can't grab lunch with co-workers). So I make a conscious effort to eat breakfast even if I'm 'not hungry'. I often end up at a loss for what to have (sometimes it's a handful or two of nuts and a cup of juice). Sometimes I'll eat leftovers from the previous night or the night before, whatever's in the fridge and fast and easy.

And if I'm hungry right before bed I'll eat something. It is possible to wake up due to hunger and it is no fun. (Also, if that happens, I will snack and then try to go back to bed if I can. Handful of crackers is food.)
posted by Lady Li at 11:39 PM on June 28, 2013

I'm twenty-five-years old, active, relatively healthy, but I have pretty serious seasonal allergies, migraines, and sinus trouble.

How do you feel when you wake up most days?

Initially I feel kind of crappy. Once I get out of bed and get moving, though, I feel really good. If I don't go for a run, I feel less good. I would describe myself as a morning person, though.

What do you do for breakfast?

I always walk the dog before eating breakfast. And it usually goes: walk the dog - run - walk the dog again - eat breakfast. When I was working, breakfast was usually a protein bar or a banana, and I'd eat more and have a cup of coffee at work. Now that I'm unemployed, breakfast is usually a bowl of oatmeal and a cup of tea.

What’s your appetite like through the day?

Sometimes, I forget to eat and then I get irritable, and sometimes I get a migraine. So I try to eat small amounts at regular intervals. I am a big believer in snacking. I try to avoid eating big meals. A big lunch makes me sleepy.

Do you take an antihistamine? What you describe sounds like it could be allergy-related fatigue. I usually jump out of bed and a bluebird lands on my shoulder, but lately I have felt like utter shit in the mornings. I've been struggling to get up before 8:00 AM, and that is sleeping in for me.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 11:42 PM on June 28, 2013

I'm a healthy person and I feel like death in the mornings because I'm just not a morning person. I bike commute and it's a slow and spacey ride to work let me tell you. I sleep as ate as physically possible and I don't eat breakfast, I have coffee at work and have early lunch around 10am then two more meals at 3pm and maybe 9pm. I also get to work an hour later than most people in my office and stay later. I'm full of energy in the afternoon and evening and do a lot then both work and exercise, and I sleep fine and for a normal 8 hours per night (12am to 8am). I'm just on a different circadian rhythm and have been since I was a baby. I'm cool with it now but it was a problem in high school college when so many classes were at 7 or 8. I'm not even human at 7am and I'm still not very bright at 8am.

Anecdotally all of my siblings and cousins are the same way. If you asked anyone they would say we are high energy people who do a lot and have lots of stamina. We're just not morning people.

Ideally I would work 11am to 8pm. I've done it before and I'm wildly productive on that schedule.
posted by fshgrl at 12:50 AM on June 29, 2013

I'm a relatively healthy woman in my late 20's.

How do you feel when you wake up most days? I'm not a morning person. Every morning when my alarm goes off (6:30), I think NOOOOOOO! I'm also an incredibly light sleeper, so I wake up at dawn when the sun comes up because the change in light in my room is enough to wake me up. So if the sun rises at 5:30, I wake up, go back to sleep for another hour, and then hit snooze for about another half hour. I usually sit in bed and check my email/MeFi/Twitter for about 20 minutes before finally making myself get up. I'd say by the time I get to work -- two buses, 40 minutes total in morning London traffic -- I'm wide awake, but God help you if you try to talk to me before then.

What do you do for breakfast? Coffee, water, two eggs, maybe a piece of toast, maybe a piece of cheese if I'm starving. I get coffee at work now because a coworker bought one of those new machines with the pods. I'm usually hungry within a few minutes of getting up. I take a multivitamin with my breakfast every morning.

What’s your appetite like through the day? I eat a snack (almonds) around 11 and usually have lunch at 13:30. My lunch hour is scheduled into my day so I don't have a say in when I take it, but I can snack any time I want (we always have tea and biscuits available, and we have a mini-fridge and a little kitchen). I rarely eat anything between lunch and dinner, which I usually take around 19:00. At the weekend, I usually only eat three meals and rarely have snacks unless I'm with friends and they want to snack. I'd say lunch is probably my biggest/heaviest meal of the day any given day of the week.

Are you more awake at night? Have you tried adjusting your schedule so you do most of your routine stuff at night, and all you have to do in the mornings is roll out of bed? I'm the most awake after dinner, so I try to shower, make my lunch for the next day, clean up, all that stuff at night because I know in the morning I'm going to feel like death and want to sleep the latest I possibly can. Even on the weekends I have to set an alarm so I don't sleep until noon -- not because I'm tired, but because getting out of bed is so hard.
posted by toerinishuman at 1:27 AM on June 29, 2013

I'd like to think of myself as a healthy 22 year old female. I'm pretty active in my spare time but work a desk job.

How do you feel when you wake up most days?

Most mornings, I'm pretty good. I try to get up at 5:45am so I can make a 7am session at the gym. If I go to bed around 10, I wake up pretty refreshed. I find that if I just bolt out of bed, I won't feel zombified at all.

However, if I go to bed as late as midnight, I will be a complete zombie at 545 in the morning...Since I have the luxury of starting work at 11am, I'll usually have time to squeeze in a power nap from between when I finish breakfast and when I have to leave, if needed.

Other than going to bed a bit later, I'll also feel a bit slow in the mornings if I had an absolute beating of a workout the day before. On those mornings though, I tend to listen to my body and sleep in a bit.

What do you do for breakfast?

I take my breakfast after a workout. It's recently been about 3-4 eggs scrambled with some sort of vegetable. I like using mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach, red peppers, and occasionally onions. If I remembered to get some fruit or berries, they'll be with breakfast too. I do a huge breakfast because lunch usually comes quite late for me. I should also note that this breakfast comes after a protein shake that goes in me right after I work out...

What’s your appetite like through the day?

I find my body's starting to get used to such a big breakfast. When I started eating a lot in the morning, I found that I wouldn't get hungry until 2 or even 3 in the afternoon. Now, I'm hungry by 1pm. Lunch now is taken around 1pm and is generally a little (not sure) lighter than breakfast. I've been trying to eat better so lunch has included 2 chicken breasts + pounds of veggies. Dinner is something similar. A bit of meat then a ton of veggies.

I don't like snacking in between meals because I can't seem to make up my mind about what I want to eat when I'm not hungry. Grocery shopping can either take 10 minutes (when I'm hungry and know exactly what I want) or over an hour (when I pick things up, put them down and can't decide what I want to eat).

For me, I found that changing what I ate makes me feel like I have higher energy levels. I've fallen off the better eating wagon lately and I'm finding that I'm more sluggish in the mornings for no reason at all. I still go to bed early, but I've had more days where I just felt like I didn't have the energy to get to the gym.
posted by astapasta24 at 1:50 AM on June 29, 2013

33 & female--good health and as active as I can push myself to be

How do you feel when you wake up most days?

Usually, not too bad, as long as I am in a point where my schedule is consistent. During those times, it is up around 7:30, stretch/work out/bike ride after about 7-9 hours in bed. I tend to get up easily if I know exactly what I am going to do when I get up. If there is any question and I need some willpower to get up or make a decision to do the "right thing" (work out, for example), then I'll hide back under the covers.

After I work out, I usually have breakfast and flip through the web for about 15-20 minutes while I eat...that and catch up on emails from my other-time-zoned colleagues. Depending on how sweaty I got from my workout, I might take a quick shower, but I have found showers to be better for relaxing me than waking me up, so I've been showering in the evenings mostly

I travel a lot for work, though, and when I do that, I am in bed for maybe 5-6 hours a night (stupid late night ppt sessions with colleagues, or drinking late with them the night before then getting up early to go to a customer's site). And after a few days of travel like that, it is hard for me to get back into my consistent schedule once I am back home. It will take a couple days.

I tend, though, to function okay on a few hours sleep and am able to get up easily, again, if I know exactly why I need to get up.

What do you do for breakfast?

Fruit, eggs with toast, some cheese often a cup of coffee from the bakery or a cup of tea at home, sometimes toast with peanut butter. It depends what I happen to have around and if I had remembered to go to the store. If I have no food, I'll go to the bakery/supermarket and get a piece of fruit, a coffee and a pastry.

What is your appetite like through the day?

Normally I am very careful about eating, as I get cranky when I get hungry. I keep some small snack within easy reach of my desk (I work from home) like pumpkin seeds and/or fruit. I have something at lunch whether I am crazy hungry or not and the same for dinner.

Recently though, my appetite has been more erratic, as I have been working out most days (except for last week due to a crazy amount of travel and late nights...) and that does really weird things--impacting when I get hungry and how hungry I am: suppressing my appetite after a small snack or meal, then other times making me voraciously hungry. I found that if I put more protein in my diet, that helps a TON with the voracious hunger. So I have started having more eggs in the morning rather than PB & toast.
posted by chiefthe at 4:14 AM on June 29, 2013

I used to have a really insanely hard time getting up in the morning. Now that I'm on anti-depressents, I can do it! Every day!

My work is quite physical so I tend to fall asleep quickly (around 11) on worknights and wake up early, especially in the summer- this morning I woke up at 6:45 without an alarm. On non-worknights I don't sleep as well or quickly and I wake up more groggy and fuzzy, and later.

I only work part-time; full-time work is more than I can handle- I need more rest than 40 hrs of work, plus commuting, can give me. When I was working full time, I was constantly exhausted, always late, could barely drag myself out of bed, and had a messy house and didn't eat properly.

I don't like most breakfast-type foods in the morning, so I usually have a savoury smoothie or something "lunchy" like salad with chicken and some toast. Sometimes cereal or instant oatmeal but then I'm hungry again an hour later. I typically have my water first thing (before i get out of bed- i keep a water bottle by the bed) and play on the internets for a while before i get up. Then i have coffee first, then breakfast. I usually have milk with breakfast too, or yogurt- something protein. If I feel really good, I'll have decaf or tea instead of coffee because it does make me crash pretty bad.

So: water (I take my pills and vitamins with it, first thing, they're on the nightstand too), bathroom, eye drops (dry eyes), stretch a bit. I feel yucky and dried out until all that starts to work- about fifteen minutes- and then I feel good.

Days like today, after a good nights sleep with the windows open, when I wake up naturally, I feel awesome. I mean, I'm not hyper or anything but I fully feel awake and alive... it doesn't kick in until after I've had my water though.

Days when I stay up late, don't excercise, and have lots of coffee, I feel like crap the next day and have no energy for life.
posted by windykites at 5:06 AM on June 29, 2013

Oh, I forgot to add- about 2- 3 hours after I awake, I'm tired again, regardless of how much sleep I got or whatever. It doesn't last too long if I don't give in and get active instead, but if I do sedentary stuff (hello, mefi!), the urge to go back to bed is almost overwhelming. A splash of cold water on the face is often the cure for this!

My appetite throughout the day is, I imagine, fairly normal (whatever that means), but I have terribe, messed up eating and so I must have a fairly strict meal and snack schedule in order to ensure that I'm actually eating enough calories to stay alive and stuff and also not having cake for dinner.
posted by windykites at 6:00 AM on June 29, 2013

Kind of a morning person here. Not sure if I'm biologically tuned to be so, or if I'm a morning person for mental reasons: If I give myself a good morning, a good day follows. (A crap morning results in having to 'get back on track' -- I've gotten good at having nice mornings.)

I put some food in my body within an hour of waking -- Preferably something high in protein like yogurt or an egg. Sometimes a yogurt smoothie and a banana, or toast with peanut butter and the smoothie (store-bought yogurt drink. I see homemade breakfast smoothies in my medium-near-future :)). Then, coffee. I loves me some coffee.

My next move is one of three things: veg out for
Obvs I don't work first thing in the AM, usually, so I try to fit in the important things before work.

My relationship with food is that it is fuel. The healthiest food is the best fuel and also the tastiest, as my eating habits get better and better (for my personal body+mind). So, I kind of eat all day, and rarely have a big meal. It seems to work fine.

My relationship with sleep is I get what I can, but I don't have the healthiest sleep habits. I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and screw around on my phone, which is a no-no, I get it, but I'm always taking baby steps to tweak my life... The ~7 hrs of spotty (at worst) sleep isn't high on my priority list of thing I've gotta change.

I have tons of vivid dreams every night, and I wake up reflecting on what I was symbolizing to myself. Why did I dream about a library last night? I spend a few minutes meditating -- You know, keep stuff positive and centered -- And, I feel mellow but good in the morning.

Morning is my favorite, but also I'm an introvert and a quiet, creative type. And apparently somewhat of a new ager!

posted by little_dog_laughing at 6:51 AM on June 29, 2013

I get ready for bed around 9 and read until about 10:30 before going to sleep. I tend to wake up around 6 or 6:30 and not want to get up. However, if I go back to sleep at this point, I fall into a very bad pattern of shallow sleep with lots of weird dreams were I almost but not quite wake up, then fall back asleep, then almost wake up, etc. until I've slept far too late, and finallyhaul myself out of bed and feel dopey and miserable all day.

I've found that the key to staying awake at when I first wake up is to keep my eyes open. Trying to brute force it with sheer willpower is usually unsuccessful, so I set an alarm on my iPod touch (using, and when it goes off, I turn on the radio, and then read Facebook, and play solitaire or play my turns in turn-based games. After about a half hour or 45 minutes, I usually find that I need to get up to use the bathroom. At that point I'm pretty much ready to deal with the day and don't feel zombified.

Aside from having a cup of coffee or tea, I don't do breakfast. I'm typically nauseated by the thought of food in the morning. I usually have a granola bar and maybe some yogurt around 10 or 10:30, and if not I tend to eat lunch pretty early, like 11:00. I find that actually eating breakfast in the morning (aside from being unpleasant) does something weird to my appetite, and makes me voracious all day long.

I feel hungry at lunch time, usually, and have a dip in energy around 2:00, when I try to have a handful of nuts and/or some very dark chocolate. I usually hit a burst of energy and focus around 4:00, which is really inconvenient, because I'm really cranking just when it's time to leave work and get dinner going. I'm usually hungry around that time, also. If I have a good dinner, I usually am not hungry after dinner, but I often have a craving for something sweet, so I have a small amount of dark chocolate.
posted by BrashTech at 7:52 AM on June 29, 2013

Me: I'm 37 years old, a dietitian, and I feel I've finally learned how to maximize my energy throughout the day and wake up more easily, fwiw.

How do you feel when you wake up most days?

In the past: Utter zombie. Massive sleep inertia. I've learned I need light in the morning to get my brain into a more awake stage of sleep, and this makes waking easier. I made a sunrise alarm clock (with a light that slowly gets brighter over the course of 20 minutes) and it works amazingly well. Turning on NPR as soon as I am mildly alert helps bring my brain out of dream world and into a fully awake state.

Three days/week I immediately go for a 20-30 min jog. I do not enjoy this, but I make myself do it because I know if I do I will feel like superwoman the rest of the day, which makes it totally worth it. Seriously, I wish someone had told me about this effect a long time ago. It took about 2 months of regular jogging before the effect kicked in, though.

What do you do for breakfast?

One egg and some sort of carb like a slice of toast or a muffin. On the weekend
s huevos rancheros or something heavy like that. Boiling eggs ahead of time mak
es breakfast prep easy. I have a cup of tea with breakfast. I never skip break
fast! If you're not hungry for breakfast, keep in mind that your body will do w
hat you train it to do. Eat breakfast for a couple of months without fail, whet
her you feel like it or not, and you'll start getting hungry at the appropriate

What’s your appetite like through the day?

Being a dietitian and having worked at eat disorder clinics, I'm well versed in what a normal schedule of hunger and satiety signals looks like -- and I fit the pattern. I start getting hungry about an hour and a half to two hours after each meal, and by four hours after a meal I feel like I must eat now. I have the standard 3 meals/day, with a small snack in between each. I don't skip meals, and keep each meal balanced with carbs and protein, which helps maintain proper hunger/satiety signals. (Nearly all of our eating disorder patients had weirdly unbalanced meals and/or skipped meals on a regular basis.)

Btw, you can find the (free) plans for my alarm clock here.
posted by antinomia at 8:28 AM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mid 20s, healthy, fairly active, but have a recurring iron deficiency that I suspect means my energy levels are not as great as they should be. I would consider myself a morning person. I am pretty heavily affected by light, so right now I'm at my best sleep-wise, and this reflects it. Mid winter, not so much.

In terms of caffeine I usually have one cup of coffee in the morning, and maybe 1 more cup of coffee or tea in the afternoon. I rarely have more than 2 cups of coffee a day but on the weekends I sometimes drink a lot of tea (2-3 cups over the course of the day). I occasionally go through periods of dialling back my caffeine consumption to 1 cup/day for a while. I'm not a night owl--I start dragging at 9:30 or 10pm pretty predictably, which is annoying when I'm going out.

How do you feel when you wake up most days?

Not too bad. Easier to get up when it's sunny, way harder when it's raining. Usually don't have trouble dragging myself out of bed and into the shower while my boyfriend makes coffee. Shower wakes me a up a bit, coffee + breakfast a bit more, bike ride to work a little more, by the time I'm at work (about 1.5 hours after getting up) I'm usually awake. I definitely feel very refreshed and raring to go some mornings, but not every morning. Occasionally (once a week or so?) when I don't get as much sleep or had a long day the day before, I still feel pretty slow when I get to work, so I might have a cup of tea or something at 10 to try and give me a boost.

What do you do for breakfast?

I always wake up hungry. I eat breakfast every morning, usually oatmeal in the winter and yogurt and granola in the summer. I like to eat breakfast and drink a glass of water before starting my coffee. On weekends I make eggs or french toast or pancakes. I like cold cereal, toast, etc but they don't do a good job of keeping me full until lunch.

What’s your appetite like through the day?

Hungry. I eat every few hours. Breakfast ~7:30-8, lunch ~12-1, afternoon snack (muffin or trail mix) ~2-4, dinner ~6-7:30, maybe another snack before bedtime. Lunch and dinner I usually have to make an effort to hold out to 12/6. I sometimes think I should do a better job of planning more snacks but I haven't gotten that figured out yet.
posted by quaking fajita at 8:41 AM on June 29, 2013

I think an important factor that is being forgotten here is your own internal clock.
Everyone is a bit different in that way, for example I can sleep from 2am-9am (7 hours sleep) on weekends and wake up feeling amazing, full of energy and ready to start my day. But, when I have to wake at 6am during the week, it doesn't matter whether I've had 7, 8 or 9 hours sleep, I still feel like absolute garbage and have a horrid and slow start to my day.

What do you do for breakfast?
Personally, I have have a high metabolism so I eat 3 small breakfast's, 30 to 45 min apart. If I were to eat all that food at once, I'd feel sluggish and bloated and want to laze around and digest. I eat the same thing every morning, it just makes planning and shopping easier and then I'm not left scrambling in the morning trying to decide.

Really, I'm trying to figure out if there's something excessively wrong with my energy levels, or if I'm just being lazy, or if it could be a kind of depression keeping me from doing what I should do and taking care of myself - because I just can't tell the difference any more - and then once I have an idea of that, start establishing more realistic routines.

Start small. Pick something that you'd really love to eat for breakfast and would motivate you to get out of bed. (For example I love chai lattes with almond milk and the thought of making and downing a hot mug of that in the morning usually sounds better to me at 6am than remaining in bed) Make sure you have all the ingredients on hand and everything is clean and ready to go the night before. If you do this enough times, it just becomes habit and not something you have to think about. Incorporate one thing at a time into your morning routine.
Also, exercise in the morning is a big way to change how you feel and give a great start to your day, even if its just a 20 minute walk with your dog.
posted by tenaciousmoon at 9:25 AM on June 29, 2013

When I was a healthy person in my 30s, I woke up terribly. Every single morning was: "Fuck, I'm awake."

Turns out I had terrible sleep apnea. I use a CPAP now, which I refer to as "the crack pipe of love," and now my mornings are generally in line with the normal range of others' experiences.

If your morning consistently sucks and you've exhausted the obvious, get a sleep study.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:25 AM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm a 32 year old female who works 9 stressful hours a day, sleeps 8 wonderful hours a night, and exercises for an hour almost every day. I'm slightly overweight (but that's changing since adding in the daily workouts) and like to drink, but I don't have any other vices and no major medical conditions.

How do you feel when you wake up most days?
On work days, like shit. I think it's a combination of getting up early (even though I've gotten 8 hours of sleep, it always feels worse when it's on an early schedule), being sore from exercise, and having some general anxiety about what my work will involve that day. I have lots of back-to-back meetings most mornings which doesn't help that.

On weekends I feel much better. Even though I don't sleep longer, I do have the ability to linger in bed for a while, chat with my husband and plan the day. My muscles being sore from exercise does not bother me as much in this case.

What do you do for breakfast?
I have a tall Americano as soon as I get to work every morning, and I skip breakfast in favor of having a big lunch at 11am. So big that I typically eat it over the course of an hour while I am in a meeting or doing work. My favorite is to go to the buffet-style market in my building and get a piece of salmon, some sauteed green beans, and steamed broccoli and cauliflower. I douse it all with sriracha.

Weekends are similar - we do brunch around 11am. Typically this involves coffee and/or a couple of bloody marys, and a protein-heavy dish. My favorite is from a local dive bar that is a scramble with chorizo, cheese, sour cream and salsa. I don't eat the accompanying hash browns or toast.

What’s your appetite like through the day?
Since switching to a low-carb (paleo-ish) diet my appetite hasn't been a problem at all. I tend to eat a pretty heavy, protein-laden meal in the late morning, and usually that holds me over until dinnertime. Sometimes I snack on a handful of almonds or a hard-boiled egg before I go workout in the afternoon. I tend to eat a lot of fat and veggies for dinner, which I think helps me stay satisfied during bedtime and in the early morning.

When I was eating a more traditional diet with carbs I felt like I was starving all the time. That starving feeling was a key player in me waking up every morning and feeling cranky as hell.
posted by joan_holloway at 9:26 AM on June 29, 2013

35 year old pretty healthy mom to a very active 5 y.o.

How do you feel when you wake up most days?
Sometimes a little groggy but overall I'm able to get up easily. I try to be reasonably consistent in my bedtime/wakeup time. I have the energy to go run/walk a couple of miles before coming home to coffee. (For me, being able to be up doing things w/o needing coffee is a pretty good indicator of how I'm doing physically.)

My mornings looked different before I gave up gluten a couple of years ago. I had a lot of trouble waking up, my eyes were swollen, I was congested, etc.

What do you do for breakfast?
About 45 minutes after I get home I'm ready for breakfast. I usually eat a small bowl of yogurt with coconut chips and fruit.

What’s your appetite like through the day?
I try to keep my appetite pretty level. I snack in the morning and afternoon. I love food but try to keep in mind that it's primarily fuel. My body runs better when I eat that way.
posted by wallaby at 10:04 AM on June 29, 2013

I'm a healthy 28yo male. This answer is going to be sort of unlike most of the others, but whatevs. Generally I am so groggy and tired when my alarm goes off (after ~7-8h sleep) that I end up hitting snooze for up to an hour in a semiconscious haze. I am usually not particularly hungry but I have the habit of eating breakfast (oatmeal, unsweetened soy milk, sunflower seeds, a few dark chocolate chips) and often I realize that I actually was hungry part of the way through. I throw down coffee like a Range Rover blowing through unleaded. As far as the rest of the day goes, I usually have to eat something substantial every 3-4 hours unless I really didn't sleep well, in which case my appetite is usually pretty poor.

(Reading the rest of these answers is making me feel slightly like perhaps I'm a bigger outlier than I realized, or that perhaps people who wake up with a song in their heart are more excited to answer this question? Dunno.)
posted by en forme de poire at 10:29 AM on June 29, 2013

Man, I hate people who wake up with lots of energy. that has never been my life. My wife has told me I have sleep apnea, but when I did a sleep study, they have you sleep from 9pm-5am, which is so far outside of my sleep schedule, I only slept like two hours. The end result was they said my sleep apnea was so mild they didn't recommend anything.

How do you feel when you wake up most days?

Terrible - especially the past year or two - I never have energy or want to talk unless i've gotten at least 8-9 hours of sleep. Waking up with a headache is fairly normal, and goes away once I'm up.

What do you do for breakfast?

I'm on meds which I need to take 30min before breakfast, so I do that first, then make a latte and either toast w/jam or muesli.

What’s your appetite like through the day?

I tend to eat 2-3 times a day. After breakfast around 11am I often don't eat until 5-7pm, and then again around 11pm. I'm really trying to get in the habit of eating earlier, especially having a big breakfast (which I normally don't want).
posted by ianhattwick at 11:08 AM on June 29, 2013

these days what gets me out of bed is that now I'm too sore or headachey from sleeping to stay in bed

yeah. that would be depression. on the days when my depression/anxiety is higher, the only thing that gets me out of bed is that i am so fucking dehydrated i need to drink some damn water or my head will explode. and then i feel like shit because i have slept too long and then i have a headache that i can't really get rid of so i'm in a shitty fog for the rest of the day and can't get anything done. it's super awesome.

on the days when i'm NOT so depressed or have a meeting/call to deal with i get up around the time my alarm tells me to. i don't feel great, but better than the days i stay in bed for 12+ hours.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 11:13 AM on June 29, 2013

How do you feel when you wake up most days?

I wake up every day at 7:45 because that's when breakfast is served. I always feel like a zombie, no matter how well I slept ... until I get up. Once I get up, I'm fine for the rest of the morning unless I had a shitty night's sleep. To be honest, if I didn't have to get up to make breakfast I often wouldn't, even though I know that the tiredness will go away. It's just much too satisfying to roll back over and go back to sleep.

I'm never hungry right after I get up but I always have a piece of bread with some jam or a pastry. I have a coffee, not because I need it but because I enjoy the taste and the ritual. There is no more food until lunch, which is served at 1:00. I'm usually peckish by then -- not starving, but hungry enough to eat a full meal.

A little drowsiness after lunch is normal; a lot of drowsiness means a shitty night's sleep (or too much sleep). I might feel like a nap, but I almost never take one because I know that naps don't make me feel better.

I get hungry again about 1-2 hours before dinner, which is served at 8:00. I eat another full meal. I get sleepy around 10:30-11:00 and try to be in bed with the lights off around 11:30.

(I guess I might not be "independent." I'm living in a communal house and large portions of my schedule are set by the house's daily routines. But you said you wanted answers from a wide range of lifestyles ... I used to have a very erratic schedule, and now I have very fixed one. I don't even sleep in on weekends.)
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 4:12 PM on June 29, 2013

I'm 28, female, and healthy.

When my depression was untreated, my days were a lot like yours. Now things are totally different and great!

How do you feel when you wake up most days? Pretty good. I don't normally wake up with an alarm during the summer - it's set for 6:20, and I wake at 6 out of habit/because of the sun. During the winter I do need the alarm. I wake up the same time on the weekends. I'm pretty wide awake at that point, and go for a run most mornings, or do some stretching. I end up at work by 8:30. This is all pre-food and pre-coffee/tea/anything but water. I have always been a morning person.

What do you do for breakfast? I eat breakfast at work during the week: oatmeal with peanut butter. Weekend breakfast is a couple of eggs with vegetables or fruit.

What’s your appetite like through the day? I get hungry around 11:30, eat at noon, get hungry at 3, have a snack, get hungry around 5:30, eat dinner at six. I have dessert around eight.

Running is pretty much the thing that underpins my appetite and sleeping, and things start to fall apart without it - I don't fall asleep early enough, and I eat more even though I'm not quite as hungry. I know that when you're depressed, the exercise recommendation is simply...unrealistic, though, so I don't want you to take this as another "oh, the problem is that you're not exercising." Not exercising is a symptom, not a cause.
posted by punchtothehead at 4:12 PM on June 29, 2013

I'm not going to answer your questions, because just reading your post tells me something's not right- I am not qualified to assess depression but if you are only getting out of bed because you hurt, then reading social media all morning, there's something wrong. Tell your doctor what you wrote here, and I sincerely hope you get the help you need.
posted by goo at 7:05 PM on June 29, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for the data points, everyone.

I kind of hinted at it in the question ("as I work with my doctors"), but I've made it clearer in past questions that I suffer from a serious, chronic illness that has my body all out of whack. I can manage to very slowly approach a stable plateau of normality - or as close to it as I can expect to get - but it's easy to get knocked out of it, and then I can hardly remember what that felt like.

I was doing well, everything was nice and stable, I had picked up a part-time job, and summer sunlight was making me less mopey... then lots of things hit at once and life started to get utterly exhausting again. I had surgery on my arm 3 weeks ago, and it's still disrupting my sleep.

I have my alarm set to 9:00 or 9:15, but I almost always hit snooze for another 10 - 30 minutes. Recently I've felt too lazy to even make coffee most mornings (especially since it's too hot for anything but iced coffee, which is more complicated to make), and there's the appeal of the morning sun, so I end up driving up the block (unshowered, hair hastily put in place, teeth brushed at that point only 25% of the time...) to Starbucks for an iced coffee and a pastry of some kind. It's all very expensive on my income.

Caffeine-wise, that iced coffee is the only caffeine I have all day, but I drink it slowly all day. I rarely finish it before 5. Other drinks in the last few weeks have been water and caffeine-free Coke, and one beer a few days after I stopped needing pain meds for my arm. Alcohol in general is not kind to me, but I can enjoy it from time to time in strict moderation.

My appetite is extremely finicky. Sometimes I have very strong cravings that last weeks (most recently, canned seafood - sardines and smoked oysters), sometimes only a day. Some days I'll go back and forth between hungry and zero appetite. My appetite for breakfast is almost always limited to something carby and sweet - a pastry, porridge of some sort, cold cereal - if I have any. But the laziness is there too, and even if I have cereal and milk, I might not eat it because it would require washing a bowl, or because it's just on the edge of my appetite range and not worth it.

I live with roommates who, when they're not obligated to be up for work or other things, tend to sleep in past 2pm and stay up until dawn (most recently). I don't know what kind of effect that has on me subconsciously. I do go to bed between midnight and 1am every night unless I lose track of time. I'm mostly independent from them - separate food, different hours, but good friends.

goo, you're right, something's not right. I'm not healthy, physically or mentally. But I didn't mean that the only thing that gets me out of bed is achiness, I just meant that often that's a major motivating factor. I actually like mornings, unless I've missed out on sleep. Mornings mean sunlight and mild(er) temperatures (in the summer, at least) and good coffee and, if I'm lucky, something nice to eat, and an entire night of social media to catch up on.

But yes, physical problems aside, I'm quite sure I'm depressed, though just how depressed varies. Anxiety is nearly constant, and contributes to the depression.

In a week, I go through things that "conclude" this detour from my previous stability, I'll have a week of stressful transitioning, and then things will hopefully stabilize much more completely - at least until my next surgery.
posted by mock muppet at 1:07 AM on June 30, 2013

I have pretty awful arthritis in 3 major joint areas, so often waking up can be ghastly, physically. If it's too painful to move around easily then I am grumpy most of the morning. On the days where all the variables work out in my favour (warm enough/not too humid/correct level of activity day before/optimal combination of necessary medications the night before) then I wake up and spend like 20 minutes prancing around like an idiot because it feels good to be able to move.

I am late for work nearly every single day because of the pain, which works out okay because I pick one day to stay an extra 4-5 hours and my office is great about flex time.

Breakfast is always heavy on the protein because that is the only thing that makes me feel alert. My cholesterol and blood pressure are low and delightful so I have no guilt having bacon and eggs and cheese every day. I also allow myself a single small sugary thing, like one donut hole or a single peanut butter cup or tiny starbucks scone.

I have one small cup of caffeinated tea with breakfast, and then no caffeine in any form for the rest of the day. I'm on slow-release ADHD meds, though, so I don't really need any additional concentration kick.

I am at my most comfortable and energetic from around 4-8 in the afternoon-evening.

I'm not sure if I've reached a depression stage of chronic illness or not, because mostly I'm just angry about it when it happens and pleased when it does not. In my non-doctor opinion it sounds like depression is playing a big part in your overall health.
posted by elizardbits at 9:37 AM on June 30, 2013

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