Why you wake up grumpy and how to combat your low mood in the morning


From nutrition to sleep quality, try these lifestyle tips to transform your low mood.

By Sarah Hartley

Woken up in a bad mood – yet again? We all have days when we wake up on the wrong side of bed and can’t seem to shake that negative feeling. But if you find yourself starting off on the wrong foot every single day, then you might need to address your bedtime routine and reset your mood.

We speak to the experts about the impact your diet and lifestyle can have on your mindset and the simple everyday changes you can make to turn your mornings from grouchy to perky:

Why do you wake up in a bad mood?

While depression, stress, too many tequilas and the changing seasons can all lead to a negative mindset in the morning, as neuroscientist Penelope A. Lewis explains in her book, The Secret World of Sleepyour bad mood is more than likely attributed to sleep deprivation – and the consequences can be far-reaching.

‘Basic perceptions of the world are subtly changed when you’re overtired,’ says Lewis. ‘People are worse at guessing what smells are, and less likely to notice sour tastes. There are also subtle problems with hearing and vision.

Your bad mood is more than likely attributed to sleep deprivation – and the consequences can be far-reaching.

‘Evidence suggests that tiredness can lead us to see the world through a negative filter. We are more likely to perceive perfectly neutral facial expressions as negative, and we are less likely to appreciate humour. It isn’t clear why this happens, but one set of studies suggests that the specific region of the frontal lobe that usually filters negative feelings is impaired from lack of sleep.’

So while waking up on the wrong side of the bed every once in a while is completely normal, there are also a few lifestyle habits that could be dramatically impacting your shut-eye and adding to your grouchy daybreak mindset. Try our top 4 tips for turning that morning frown upside down and learn to face the day with a smile:

1.Eat your way to a good night’s sleep

Experts agree that what you eat in the evening will not only have an impact on how you sleep, but how you feel the next day too. Waking up in a low mood could be diet-related and caused by sinking blood sugar levels, so it pays to eat well before you head for bed.

‘Some people are more glycaemically sensitive than others, which means that their blood sugar levels can fluctuate more easily,’ says Nutritional therapist Jackie Lynch. ‘For example one client of mine had a balanced diet but ate two squares of dark chocolate after dinner. That was enough to affect her blood sugar levels overnight. To satisfy the urge for something sweet I suggested she swap to liquorice tea and the problem has gone away.’

Eating anything too sugary such as chocolate, biscuits, hot chocolate, alcohol or foods high in refined carbohydrates such as bread, pizza, chips and pasta may send you to bed feeling initially satisfied, but your high blood sugar may plummet in the night. ‘This will leave you feeling exhausted and demotivated and will massively contribute to grumpiness first thing,’ says Lynch.

Eat dinner roughly three hours before bed and try to focus on a balance of protein and complex carbohydrate.

Lynch recommends eating dinner roughly three hours before bed and trying to focus on a balance of protein and complex carbohydrate, including sleep-promoting foods such as turkey, tuna, bananas, potatoes, wholegrain bread and peanut butter. Turkey is great for promoting sleep as it contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid key in making serotonin, the brain chemical involved in regulating mood and waking/sleeping cycles. The body cannot make its own so is reliant on sourcing tryptophan through diet.

However foods that include the amino acid tyramine which inhibits sleep should be avoided in the evening – these include smoked fish, cheese, and peppers. And, Lynch adds, ‘Anyone who has a fast metabolism or eats early with the kids might benefit from having a snack before they go to bed. An oatcake with hummus is ideal.’

  1. Maintain your magnesium levels

You may find it difficult to get to sleep in the first place if you’re feeling tense or anxious. According to Lynch this might point to a magnesium deficiency, an essential mineral which is easily depleted by stress.

‘Magnesium can be found in all dark green vegetables so try to include these every day – it can be something as simple as a spinach salad,’ says Lynch.

Try using Epsom Salts, which are packed with magnesium. ‘I like to throw a few handfuls into an evening bath,’ adds Lynch. ‘Magnesium is absorbed through the skin and it calms the nervous system and soothes tired muscles. It sets you up for a really good night’s sleep.’

  1. Look after your liver

In traditional Chinese medicine, the liver is the seat of anger. So if you’ve been drinking the night before – whether moderately or hitting it hard – the liver will be under stress, impacting its ability to detoxify the body, and your sleep quality will be impaired.

‘Vitamin C is vital in the liver’s detoxification process, so a couple of grams in powdered form dissolved in water before bed may help to reduce hangover symptoms,’ suggests Lynch.

🍊 Women taking the contraceptive Pill are not recommended to take more than 1 gram of Vitamin C a day.

  1. Don’t skip breakfast

Do you always eat a hearty breakfast to start the day with a smile? Sleep expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan and Jackie Lynch both agree that eating breakfast soon after getting up is crucial for lifting your low mood.

Remember to avoid refined carbohydrate choices such as croissants, muffins and cereals, which will send blood sugar peaking and dipping again, leading to low energy and low mood.

Protein is key at breakfast so opt for scrambled eggs, muesli with yoghurt, avocado and eggs, nut butter or beans on wholegrain toast.

Net Doctor



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