Find care near you in 10 minutes with our online assessment.
Why do I wake up angry? How do I stop?

Why do I wake up angry? How do I stop?

Different mental health issues can lead to feeling angry in the morning, but they may not always be the main cause.

Reviewed by:
Susan Kim, MD
View bio
June 27, 2024
Original source:

Key takeaways

  • Sleep disorders, chronic pain, and side effects of medication may also cause irritability in the morning.
  • Taking care of your physical health and creating a routine can help ease angry feelings when you wake up.
  • If angry feelings are persistent, it may be time to reach out to your doctor or a mental health professional who can help figure out what's going on.
In this article

Waking up angry can have an effect on your whole day. Whether you’re still mad from the night before or simply didn’t get enough sleep, your mental health is a vital part of how you experience the day ahead.

Self-care practices, like deep-breathing when you’re angry, can help you calm down in the moment. But if you want to reduce stress in your life altogether, you can follow these steps for waking up in a better mood, exploring the cause of your anger, and proactively seizing the day.

Get virtual care from psychiatrists that take insurance.

Get started

Is it normal to be irritable in the morning?

Yes, it is normal to be irritable in the morning. This could be for physical, mental, or emotional reasons. A physical example involves your blood sugar. Your blood sugar levels can drop or spike during your sleep, which can cause you to be angry upon waking up.  

The following factors might also cause you to feel less than pleasant upon waking up.

  • Your sleep quality: Poor sleep quality disrupts your brain's ability to regulate emotions effectively, leading to increased irritability and mood swings. Sleep deprivation makes you more sensitive to stressors and less able to cope with frustration. Over time, ongoing sleep problems can exacerbate your emotions, contributing to heightened feelings of anger and irritability. If getting good sleep is constantly an issue, it’s possible that you may have a sleep disorder.
  • Hormonal fluctuations: Fluctuations in hormones like estrogen and testosterone can influence your mood, leading to increased irritability or aggression. Imbalances or sudden changes in these hormone levels can disrupt neurotransmitter activity in the brain, affecting emotional processing and making you more prone to feelings of anger.
  • Stress: Stress triggers the release of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which can heighten your emotional responses. When these stress hormones accumulate, they can lower your tolerance, making you deeply frustrated. Over time, chronic stress can lead to irritability and a shorter fuse, increasing the likelihood of angry outbursts.
  • Unresolved issues: Conflicts, whether work-related or personal, can weigh on your mind during sleep, disrupting rest and causing subconscious stress and anxious thoughts. When you wake up, these unresolved issues may resurface, intensifying feelings of frustration and anger as they become more conscious.  
  • Biological and psychological factors: Neurochemical imbalances, such as low serotonin levels or high levels of testosterone, can make you susceptible to anger. Genetics also play a role; individuals with a family history of mood disorders may be more likely to experience frequent outbursts. Unresolved trauma or conflicts from past experiences can also amplify emotional responses and trigger anger, and chronic pain can also worsen your mood.  
  • Environmental and lifestyle factors: Someone's lifestyle can make them prone to anger by contributing to chronic stress, such as through high-pressure work environments, lack of work-life balance, or financial strain. Poor health habits like inadequate sleep, excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption, and a lack of physical activity can also affect mood regulation.
  • External stressors: External factors can make someone angry in the morning by creating constant triggers, such as traffic congestion on your way to work, noisy work environments, or crowded communal spaces. Stressful life events like financial problems, relationship conflicts, or work difficulties can also impact your emotions.
  • Medication side effects: Some medications may cause increased irritability, which may be an underlying cause for your morning mood.

It’s important to create a healthy morning routine as they help regulate biological rhythms (circadian rhythms), which can stabilize your mood and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

Healthy morning habits such as exercise, meditation, and a nutritious breakfast can release endorphins, reduce stress hormone levels (cortisol), and promote a positive outlook for the day. You can also prepare yourself emotionally for the day by planning your day so you feel in control and emotionally resilient (more on that later).

Is anger a symptom of a mental health condition?

Anger can be connected to various mental health conditions in different ways:

  • Depression and anxiety: Individuals experiencing depression or an anxiety disorder may express underlying feelings of sadness or fear through anger, especially if they have difficulty processing or acknowledging their emotions.
  • ADHD (Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder): Individuals with ADHD may have a hard time controlling their impulses and regulating their emotions, which can manifest as anger.  
  • Bipolar disorder: During manic episodes of bipolar disorder, individuals may experience intense emotions, including anger. This anger can be part of the increased energy and agitation typical of mania.  
  • Personality disorders: Anger can be a prominent feature in disorders like borderline personality disorder (BPD) or antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), which are often linked to feelings of abandonment, rejection, or perceived threats.

Seeking professional evaluation for persistent morning anger is crucial because it can indicate underlying mental health issues that may require treatment. Mental health professionals can diagnose whether the anger stems from conditions like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or other mood disorders.  

Early intervention can also prevent escalation of anger issues and mitigate negative consequences in personal and professional relationships. A thorough evaluation allows for personalized treatment plans that may include cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, and coping strategies tailored to address the root cause of the anger.  

How to stop being angry in the morning

Here are a few ways to help alleviate stress and set a positive tone in the morning:

1. Take your time

Try setting three alarms—using an actual alarm clock instead of your phone: A snooze alarm, a meditation alarm, and an alarm to rise. Set the snooze alarm for one hour before you need to wake up. You’ll shut this one off and go right back to sleep. The reason why? Our first instinct is to want more sleep, so rewarding yourself with it can add some positivity to your day. The meditation alarm should be set for 10 minutes before you need to wake up. At this alarm, you can try meditating while lying down. Wiggle your toes, then concentrate on the sensations in your body from your feet up to the crown of your head. The third alarm is when you’ll finally wake up, and by now, you’ll have defrosted a bit so you can start your day on a fresh note.

2. Create a calming morning routine

When you wake up in the morning, you want to have a calming morning routine, so you don’t feel rushed at the start of your day. Set your alarm clock for a reasonable hour then start by brushing your teeth and washing your face, or you can brew some coffee while you pick out your clothes. You can try following a simple three-step routine, like showering, making breakfast, and getting dressed, or you can switch it up, according to Nature Neuroscience. The study found that “daily variability in physical location” can provide positive effects.

3. Set boundaries

Boundaries are limits you create based on your safety, satisfaction, and productivity. You can set boundaries with work by checking your emails after a certain time. Instead of waking up and bombarding yourself with to-dos, follow your morning routine, then check your emails or wait until you clock in. You can also set boundaries with family members at home. Perhaps you could schedule a time to take a shower everyday to spend some time alone throughout the day. This can avoid any arguments about who gets to use the bathroom in the morning.  

4. Set an intention for the day  

Intentions are aims or plans that can help you stay on track to meet your goal. Upon waking up or before going to bed, you can set an intention for the day ahead. Intentions, especially when met, can lead to joy and satisfaction. For example, if you have a social event coming up that you’re nervous about, you may wake up anxious or angry. You can set an intention to start just one conversation and just vibe for the rest of the night. Meeting this intention can help build your confidence and connect with others.

5. Incentivize yourself

Incentivizing yourself, or rewarding yourself for reaching a goal, is a great way to help you look forward to the day. If something about the day or week ahead is stressing you out, try creating an incentive. Treat yourself to a new restaurant with a friend or start a passion project you can look forward to throughout the day. Those who struggle with procrastination and prefer to work under pressure should reserve a reasonable amount of time toward the end of a deadline to work. You may be able to avoid feelings of guilt for prioritizing more important things.

6. Get enough sleep at night

Researchers say you should get anywhere from seven to nine hours of sleep. This will depend on your unique schedule, of course, but a Harvard study emphasizes sleep as playing a “critical role in immune function, metabolism, memory, learning, and other vital functions.” Poor sleep can have an effect on your physical and mental health, but a solid sleep schedule can ensure that you’re energized for the day ahead. Try creating a bedtime routine that you look forward to. Make a warm drink, put on your favorite show, or read a book before bed. This can help ease your transition into a good night’s sleep.

When to get professional help

If you’ve tried all of these tips and still found that you wake up angry in the morning, it may be time to seek professional help. Your bad mood may be coming from a physical cause rather than a mental one.

For better sleep, you can try reaching out to a sleep specialist for help. They can create a sleep schedule that works with day, as well as routines and bedding ideas for getting good sleep. If you think something else is causing your anger, reach out to your primary care doctor who can rule out any physical issues or sleep disorders, or a mental health professional like a psychiatrist who can give you a diagnosis.  

At Talkiatry, we pair you up with a virtual psychiatrist in days. A psychiatrist can give you the medication you need to see your desired results in the morning. They may be able to prescribe you antidepressants or other medications to improve your mood. All you have to do is fill out this short assessment to get matched with a psychiatrist.  

The information in this article is for education and informational purposes only and should never be substituted for medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. If you or someone you know may be in danger, call 911 or the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 right away.

Learn about the conditions we treat

How it works
Tip #1
Tell us about you
Take 10 min to tell us about why you’re seeking care and what you’re looking for.
Tip #2
Explore your matches
We’ll show you the bios and treatment approaches of doctors who are a match for you.
Tip #3
Schedule your visit
Find a time that works for you. We can usually see you in just days.
Tip #4
Start your journey
Join your visit from the comfort of home and get a personalized treatment plan.
Laptop computer simulation showing a psychiatry session with a psychiatrist
Start our short assessment

Frequently asked questions

Does Talkiatry take my insurance?

We're in network with major insurers, including:

  • Aetna
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Cigna
  • Humana
  • Medicare
  • Oscar
  • United Healthcare
  • Optum
  • Compsych

Even if your insurer isn't on the list, we might still accept it. Use the insurance eligibility checker in our online assessment to learn more.

Can I get an estimate of my visit cost?

The best way to get a detailed estimate of your cost is to contact your insurance company directly, since your cost will depend on the details of your insurance.  

For some, it’s just a co-pay. If you have an unmet deductible it could be more.  

Call the number on your insurance card and ask about your plan’s coverage for outpatient psychiatric services.

How does Talkiatry compare to face-to-face treatment?

For most patients, Talkiatry treatment is just as effective as in-person psychiatry (American Psychiatric Association, 2021), and much more convenient. That said, we don’t currently provide treatment for schizophrenia, primary eating disorder treatment, or Medication Assisted Treatment for substance use disorders.

What kind of treatment does Talkiatry provide?

At Talkiatry, we specialize in psychiatry, meaning the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions. Your psychiatrist will meet with you virtually on a schedule you set together, devise a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs and preferences, and work with you to adjust your plan as you meet your goals.

If your treatment plan includes medication, your psychiatrist will prescribe and manage it. If needed, your psychiatrist can also refer you to a Talkiatry therapist.

What's the difference between a therapist and psychiatrist?

Psychiatrists are doctors who have specialized training in diagnosing and treating complex mental health conditions through medication management. If you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, or similar, a psychiatrist may be a good place to start.  

Other signs that you should see a psychiatrist include:  

  • Your primary care doctor or another doctor thinks you may benefit from the services of a psychiatrist and provides a referral    
  • You are interested in taking medication to treat a mental health condition  
  • Your symptoms are severe enough to regularly interfere with your everyday life

The term “therapist” can apply to a range of professionals including social workers, mental health counselors, psychologists, professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, and psychoanalysts. Working with a therapist generally involves regular talk therapy sessions where you discuss your feelings, problem-solving strategies, and coping mechanisms to help with your condition.

Who can prescribe medication?

All our psychiatrists (and all psychiatrists in general) are medical doctors with additional training in mental health. They can prescribe any medication they think can help their patients. In order to find out which medications might be appropriate, they need to conduct a full evaluation. At Talkiatry, first visits are generally scheduled for 60 minutes or more to give your psychiatrist time to learn about you, work on a treatment plan, and discuss any medications that might be included.

Susan Kim, MD

Dr. Susan Kim is a board certified psychiatrist who was born and raised in Queens, NY.  She has spent much of her time in the North East and is currently residing in New Jersey with her spouse and dog, Luna. Dr. Kim began her medical training at Temple University in Philadelphia, completed her psychiatric residency at Stony Brook University Hospital where she was chief resident for her final year. She has worked in numerous psychiatric roles.  This includes working at a Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CPEP) at Stony Brook University Hospital, as well as the inpatient voluntary psychiatric unit at Holy Name Hospital.  She has also worked as a psychiatric consultant for patients admitted to medical-surgical units at Holy Name Hospital.

Dr. Kim is well versed in medication management, particularly for depression, anxiety, as well as psychotic disorders. Her treatment style includes several psychotherapeutic techniques including supportive, cognitive behavioral, and psychodynamic based on her patient's needs and preferences. She also holds a special interest in cultural psychiatry as well as relational intelligence.

Read more
Article sources
Related posts
June 29, 2024

How to stop catastrophizing: 7 psychiatrist-backed tips

Read more ›
June 28, 2024

How long does Lexapro take to work?

Read more ›
June 29, 2024

Reverse SAD: Is summertime sadness a thing?

Read more ›
June 27, 2024

Paxil vs Zoloft: Comparing medications

Read more ›
June 27, 2024

Feelings of worthlessness and how to overcome them

Read more ›
June 27, 2024

Why do I wake up angry? How do I stop?

Read more ›

Mental health is personal.
So is our approach to psychiatry.

Get started