D: [MAKING A BIG YAWN] Oh man, I'm exhausted.
Y: Late night?
D: Yeah. The basement drain backed up around midnight, I had to call an emergency plumber, blah blah blah. It's a long story. The point is that I didn't get to sleep until about three in the morning.
Y: Well, you may be exhausted now, but at least you're over the worst of it.
D: The worst of what?
Y: Sleep inertia.
D: I've heard about inertia, but what does it have to do with sleep?
Y: It's that groggy, slow feeling when you first wake up.
D: Ok. So what about it?
Y: According to a study, that blurry feeling you have when you first wake up is kind of like being drunk.
D: Really? I don't remember feeling that slow in the morning.
Y: Well, the feeling sometimes only lasts a few minutes, but its effects can linger for a few hours. The study tested the problem-solving abilities of people who had just awakened from eight hours of sleep. It turns out that the subjects performed most poorly during the first three minutes after waking up. There's some evidence suggesting that the areas of the brain in charge of problem solving and complex thought take longer to wake up than other parts.
D: Ok, but so what? Gimme a few minutes in the morning and I'm basically ready to roll.
Y: That's fine if you're the host of A Moment of Science. But if you're a doctor or firefighter or anyone who might have to wake up suddenly and snap into action, sleep inertia is a bigger deal.
D: Good point.