If you are using the snooze button on a regular basis you might think that he is your best friend. He lets you sleep a couple more minutes, sometimes for multiple times, without ever nagging you or forcing you to get up. What a good friend.
Wrong. The snooze button is your worst enemy. Every time you push it, it lets you drift off to sleep again, pulling you out of the middle of your sleep phase.
Here’s how your sleep normally works. During your sleep, you enter different phases of sleep, i.e. light sleep, deep sleep and REM sleep. When you don’t use an alarm and don’t get interrupted in your sleep, your body wakes up naturally, meaning you finish your sleep phases and wake up.
This usually happens in the last hour of your sleep. Your body uses it’s own triggers to wake up. Your body temperature rises (remember it was lowest around 5 am?) and the hormones cortisol and dopamine get released. All those triggers will wake up you.
But here’s what happens when you use an alarm or the snooze button.
In case, your body hasn’t adjusted to your alarm time or you have a very inconsistent sleep schedule, it often happens that your alarm goes off in the middle of a sleep phase, i.e. deep sleep. If you get woken up when your body isn’t ready you feel tired and groggy.
This state is called sleep inertia and is more intense the deeper sleep phase you’ve been into when awaken.
When you now hit the snooze button, because you still feel tired, you drift off to sleep, possibly entering another stage of deep sleep. As soon as the alarm goes off, you’ll get interrupted once again in the middle of your sleep phase.
This will lead to even more groggy- and tiredness. So instead of being able to recover more, you’ll be even more exhausted after using the snooze button and late for whatever you needed to get up.
This will lead to more fragmented sleep and studies have found out that fragmented sleep is less restorative and leads to sleepiness related daytime impairment, meaning that sleeping for three 10 minute intervals is less beneficial than sleeping one 30 minute interval.
This means the snooze button not only will make you more tired but will also make you less productive during the day.
The best thing you can do is to sleep without an alarm at all. I’ve been doing this for several years and it is working great. Of course, it helps when you have a consistent sleep schedule.
Another great thing to do is setting your alarm later and get up immediately afterwards, not hitting snooze at all. Having a consistent bedtime, will help you body to adapt to your wake up time and usually after two weeks you’ll get up a few minutes before your alarm anyway.
If you feel tired in the morning, get up anyways and fight through the day instead of hitting snooze.
You snooze, you lose.
Steps to take:
- If you can, ditch your alarm and get up without it.
- If you are already hitting snooze, set your alarm for the time you normally get up after hitting snooze.
- Get up without hitting snooze.