Snooze Button
Adobe Stock

“Just a couple more minutes” is a phrase you’ve likely said to yourself or your partner when your alarm goes off in the morning. Then, you probably press the snooze button once, twice or maybe three times. Alarm snoozing is something that most people do to start their day, but how does it affect your sleep? It turns out that it can impact on your sleep and your mood.

Snoozing your alarm can disrupt your sleep.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that snoozing your alarm breaks up your sleep. There are two essential parts to sleep: one is sleep duration, and the other is sleep quality. Sleep continuity is an essential part of sleep quality. This means that if you wake up frequently, whether from internal factors or external reasons, it’s a sign of danger for us. You’re automatically checking back in with the environment to ensure it’s safe before going back to sleep, which is terrible for sleep recovery.

Humans need continuous bouts of uninterrupted sleep for sleep to be recuperative. When you continually snooze your alarm, you’re robbing yourself of the opportunity for continuous sleep. Basically, making that half-hour that you were on snooze much less valuable for you and your body than just setting the alarm to start with half an hour later and sleeping until the alarm clock wakes you up once.

Snoozing your alarm can harm your body.

Some research suggests that alarm snoozing can affect your wake-up hormones. There have been studies where researchers told people they were waking them up at 5 a.m., and you could see that these people already started releasing hormones much earlier than the people who were told that they’d wake up at 7 a.m. In this particular study, both groups of people would actually be waking up at 7 a.m., but you could see processes happening in the body, preparing people for a wake-up period much earlier in the 5 a.m. group than in the 7 a.m. group, meaning that their bodies started to shift out of sleep earlier to prepare for the early wake up they were expecting.

If you set an alarm for 30 minutes earlier than you need just to give yourself some snooze time, these hormones could be released earlier than necessary. Aside from this, for certain people, pressing the snooze button may throw off your entire day. At the end of the night cycle, most times, we’re deep into the rapid eye movement sleep. Rapid eye movements are associated with dream sleep, memory consolidation, and other things, which are essential neurobiological things. The idea is when you hit snooze, you should come out of REM because your alarm goes off, and then you go back into a light sleep.

When you wake up from this light sleep, you feel groggier than you were before you hit the snooze button. So that’s the portion of society that probably shouldn’t hit the snooze button because, for the rest of the day, you feel tired and disoriented because you went back into an odd state when you should’ve gotten up out of bed, which may have harmful effects, especially for those with certain conditions.

Being woken up several times can lead to increased blood pressure for those with obstructive sleep apnea, a condition where your breathing is disrupted while you sleep. You can see how if you have multiple awakenings at night, leading to potentially increased heart rate and increased blood pressure when you wake up with sleep apnea, you could also see how these frequent awakenings from the jarring of the alarm might impact your resting heart rate and blood pressure.

However, hitting snooze isn’t all bad.

It would be best to avoid demonizing the snooze button. It should be an indication that if you feel like you need to use it, you may need to make some modifications to your lifestyle. Those who go to bed late seem to get more benefit from the snooze button. For some, hitting the snooze button is advantageous, and interestingly, the people who seem to benefit the most from the snooze button are those we would call night owls, people who tend to stay up later at night. That’s their circadian phenotype or how their clock works. Night owls may naturally be in a deeper sleep when their morning alarm goes off, which makes them reach for the snooze button.

Recently, a Swedish study suggested that alarm snoozing might not actually impact cognition levels or sleep quality as much as many experts fear. Testing sleepers in a lab showed that 30 minutes of alarm snoozing improved or didn’t affect performance on cognitive tests directly upon rising compared to an abrupt awakening. As the study highlighted, for some people, it’s not a problem. However, the study was small and primarily made up of younger people, so its findings may not apply to everyone.

Don’t make using the snooze button convenient.

If you want to stop using the snooze button, one expert recommends putting your alarm clock, whether it’s on your phone or an actual clock, across the room. If you have to get out of the bed and turn it off, once you’re vertical, it’s like you’re already up, so you can start your day. In other words, you’ll be less tempted to press the snooze button if you’re already up and moving. Another expert says that sleep should be natural and you shouldn’t need an alarm to wake up. This may seem impossible for people who have early morning and late-night obligations, but certain things can make it work for those who try it.

The first step is ensuring you give yourself an adequate amount of time to sleep. According to the National Institutes of Health, adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep. Count back from the time you need to wake up to see when you should go to bed to get enough sleep. Ideally, you’ll naturally wake up when your body is fully rested, but it’s best to try this on days when you don’t have morning obligations, like on a day off or the weekend. Also, some habits can make waking up and falling asleep a little easier. Exercising in the morning helps train your circadian rhythm to wake up at a specific time.

Getting light exposure in the morning can also help if you need to wake up earlier and can help you advance your sleep phase. For some, hitting the snooze button is harmless. However, for others, it might be indicative of a more significant issue. If you’re worried, a sleep specialist is the best person to see to determine what’s right for you.

more from beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad