Is It Rude To Wake Someone Up?


Most people like to wake up at their own pace. They usually do not like to be forcibly awakened and that can leave them feeling disoriented.

It’s generally considered rude to wake someone up for a frivolous or selfish reason. However, there are situations in which it may be considered helpful to wake another person, for instance if someone has overslept or waking your seatmate on a plane.

Forcibly Waking Someone Puts Them Under Stress

There are two stages of sleep: Non–rapid eye movement (Non-REM) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Non-REM sleep occurs in several stages and each stage is linked to specific neuronal activity. You cycle through all the stages several times during one night but you tend to experience longer REM stages towards the morning.

Stage 3 non-REM sleep is what you need to feel refreshed in the morning.

If your sleep is interrupted during stage 3 non-REM, you will not feel refreshed or properly rested. This stage occurs in longer periods during the first half of the night. Your breathing and heartbeat slow down a lot during this stage and actually reach the lowest level that they will get to during the night. During this stage, your muscles will be so relaxed that it will be difficult to wake you up.

Even your brain waves are slower during stage three non-REM. When you force someone out of sleep, it puts them in a state of confusion and shock. Some may react with anger as a result of being forced into that state. It may also be difficult for them to return to a state where they feel restful or are at ease.

Since the body is vulnerable doing sleep, the alarm systems are on high alert. Even a gentle touch can be misinterpreted by the body during this time. When you wake someone out of REM sleep, they usually go into full alert mode. Their heart rate goes even higher, their breathing speeds up and they show all the other signs of stress.

Even an alarm clock can put a person under stress and this is one reason why some people avoid using one of these devices to ensure that they wake up on time. Research by the National Institute of Industrial Health in Japan, has shown that waking up to a noise that jolts you, can be bad for your heart.

Waking up to an alarm can get your adrenaline rushing. Like being awakened by another person, waking to an alarm increases your heart rate. Imagine being woken up suddenly and experiencing all of that, just to hear someone ask, “What did you think of that movie last night?” You’re not likely to think kindly of that person.

The same applies to situations in which the noise of a neighbor’s washing machine or the sound of a shower in the middle of the night wakes you up.

Avoid Sleep Inertia

People who are woken up suddenly are more likely to experience sleep inertia. In this uncomfortable state, they feel sluggish, groggy and disoriented. If you wake up a friend and they are unable to get back to sleep, that feeling of being disoriented may even continue for several hours. They won’t be as productive during the day, just because they were awakened in a manner that did not allow them to gradually adjust.

Some people who feel confused when they are woken up suddenly may experience brain fog right through the day. It may be difficult for them to concentrate at school or at work. Their body and brian have not been allowed to transition to the awakened stage properly.

Waking Someone During A Meeting

When a person is forcibly awakened from a deep sleep, instead of feeling refreshed, they could feel almost drunk. They could also feel tense and confused. If they’ve fallen asleep at a meeting, there’s no need to take the risk of producing a feeling like this. In a public setting, you can nudge them awake immediately the minute they start to nod off. That way, they won’t have the chance to fall into a deep sleep and you’ll help them to avoid embarrassment.

Waking Someone to Ask A Question

Unless it’s an urgent matter, it is rude to wake someone to ask a question. For example, suppose you have to leave to catch a 4 a.m. flight and you need to know where your family member put your hotel information because you don’t remember. You can wake them to ask. However, it’s rude to wake someone to ask if they thought your outfit the day before was stylish.

Waking Your Seatmate on A Plane

If you’re on a plane and need to pass your seatmate to go to the bathroom, you’ll need to wake them. That’s not rude. It may also be necessary to do the same on a bus, train or other transportation. In those cases, you have a valid reason for waking the person and you cannot delay your request.

There’s a limit on the number of times that it is considered okay to wake your seatmate in order to use the bathroom. If you know that you are taking medication, are pregnant, or have a condition that makes you need to pass them more frequently, consider asking them to switch seats from early in the flight. If it’s possible to safely step over them without waking them from a deep sleep, it may be better to do so.

It Can Occasionally Be Helpful to Wake Someone Up

There are times when waking someone may be necessary. For example, if they are not responding to their alarm and may oversleep, they may prefer if you wake them up. Usually, you can have a discussion about this with a family member before it happens, so you’ll know what to do. There may be times when the person is grumpy when they are awakened and they chastise you for doing so. In that case, it’s best to leave them to oversleep in the future.

In an emergency such as a fire or flood, it’s not only helpful but necessary to wake someone up. Similarly, if a person may have suffered a concussion or may otherwise benefit from staying awake, you should make an effort to help them wake up. Similar situations will be discussed in detail below.

Is It Rude to Wake Someone Up Who Is Snoring?

If your partner snores regularly and loudly, it’s sometimes an indication that they have a health problem. Many people who snore loudly and do so regularly, suffer from sleep apnea. With this condition, they may actually stop breathing several times during the night. They may also toss and turn or show signs of restlessness.

It is not rude to wake someone who is snoring if it is affecting your own quality of sleep and if you have tried nudging them several times in the hope that they will change position and thus stop snoring.

A person who snores regularly and also has sleep apnea has an increased chance of getting a heart attack and their chances of having a stroke also increase. They are also more likely to suffer from high blood pressure. If your spouse is snoring every night, it’s a sign that their body is not working as it should and they would benefit from a visit to the doctor.

If your partner snores, it can also affect your quality of sleep. They may wake up completely unaware of how their snoring has affected you and you’ll look tired and be unable to concentrate in the morning, just because you aren’t well rested.

Your spouse may become angry if you wake them while they are snoring and they may not understand how loud the noise that they make gets or why it is such a big deal. They may not even want to visit the doctor but it’s important to have the discussion with them at a point when they may be receptive. Sleep apnea affects their health and yours.

Instead of outright waking the person who is snoring, you can lightly tickle their neck. This causes them to shift position and change breathing patterns. It’s safer for them, since they’re not jolted from their sleep and can assume a position that allows them to breathe more easily. You’ll also be able to get better sleep without as much fuss.

Is It Rude to Wake Someone Up from A Nightmare?

In most cases, it is not necessary to wake someone up from a nightmare and attempting to do so may be unsafe for them. You’ll need to assess the severity of what the person is experiencing. In an extreme case, it is not rude to wake them up from their nightmare. You should do so gently, to avoid additional stress on their body and mind.

A person who suffers from night terrors may become confused and upset if you wake them up. While many people may call out, stare blankly and show other signs that make them seem to be awake during a night terror, they aren’t really awake. These episodes do not last more than a few minutes and they usually fall back to sleep fully after that time.

If a person’s night terrors typically happen around the same time, it can be helpful to wake them before the terrors start. For example, if your spouse has night terrors around 12 midnight, you can wake them at 11:45 p.m. This can be very helpful and some people who suffer from night terrors may use an alarm clock to wake before an episode or ask a friend to wake them up.

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