It’s 7am, the alarm is blaring and all you want to do is roll back over and snuggle into bed. You’re either a morning person or you’re not, and for those of us who fall under the latter, getting out of bed in the morning can be tough, especially on a Monday morning! For many hitting the snooze button once, twice or maybe even three times might be a part of your everyday morning routine. At the time there’s no better feeling than hitting that snooze button, but this little act that you don’t even think twice about, could be costing you more sleep in the long run.
Your body and brain work together to get you out of bed. Your body starts to prepare to wake up two hours before hand by raising your body temperature. This means that by the time you awake to your first alarm your body is well into that waking process. By hitting the snooze button, you’re interfering with your body’s natural wake mechanisms, which sets you up to be more exhausted during the day. If you are guilty of hitting the snooze button regularly, you are conditioning your brain to think “just a few more minutes” rather than “wake up”, leaving your body and brain confused. Unfortunately, when that habit is formed it can be difficult to break.
When you hit the snooze button and fall back to sleep you enter back into the start of your sleep cycle. Fragmented, interrupted sleep is not good-quality sleep. That short time between hitting snooze, around 5-10 minutes, isn’t restorative sleep and you are disturbing the REM sleep. When you disturb late stage REM sleep you are depriving yourself of receiving the full restorative benefits of REM sleep. Disturbing the REM sleep can cause a fight or flight reaction, which increases our blood pressure and heartbeat. Matthew Walker, a professor of neuroscience, argues that repeatedly setting off alarms in the morning can severely impact your heart. “You are literally alarming your heart,” he says. “Step and repeat this at least five days a week and you begin to understand the multiplicative abuse your heart and nervous system will suffer across a lifespan”.
Research has shown that waking up during the early sleep cycle or during deep sleep can cause sleep inertia to last for 2-4 hours. Sleep inertia is that tired, groggy feeling you have when you first wake up. By hitting the snooze button and going back to sleep you are extending that feeling and it can stay with you throughout the day, when it should usually only last for around 15-30 minutes while your brain and body go through the waking up process (Sleep Clinic Services).
The verdict is in – hitting the snooze button will leave you feeling worse off. Hitting the snooze button will not only disrupt healthy sleep patterns but will leave you feeling drowsy, sometimes for the rest of the day. If you are hitting the snooze button regularly it is time to take a look at your sleeping habits. Your best bet might be setting that alarm for 10 minutes longer and making sure you get up at the first alarm. Alternatively, try placing your alarm clock or phone out of reach, forcing you out of bed to turn it off.