Morning Grogginess Worse Than No Sleep
First 3 Minutes Are Rough as the Brain Powers Up, Small Study Shows
Grogginess Like Drunkenness
Other researchers have equated sleep inertia, or morning grogginess, to being drunk, write Wright and colleagues.
Many people can delay mental challenges for a few minutes while their brains get up to speed. But some people, like doctors, soldiers, and emergency workers, have to be ready to go at a moment's notice, Wright's team notes.
The adding test challenged short-term memory, counting skills, and speedy thinking. The brain's prefrontal cortex handles those skills, along with problem solving, complex thinking, and emotions.
In short, workers who must be at the top of their game at the drop of a hat can't afford a groggy prefrontal cortex.
Give Me a Moment ... or More?
Sleep inertia doesn't last long, with "severe" performance problems lasting three minutes, write the researchers.
They note that in other studies, "severe" performance problems have lasted up to 10 minutes, with detectable glitches present for at least two hours after waking.
Their study was small, and people don't normally do math first thing in the morning, so the researchers call for more studies of sleep inertia.
The goal: Learn how bad it really is and how to handle those morning moments when duty calls but the brain can't quite keep up.