Do You Really Lose When You Snooze?

Hitting snooze

I hit the snooze button this morning. I’m not proud of it, but I had a later night than usual because of our son’s choir concert, and the thought of getting up at that moment seemed impossible. If I’m being honest here, I’ve become a snooze button hitter lately—and now something I’d never felt the urge to do before is threatening to worm its way into my morning routine.

For no particular reason, pushing that button this morning made all sorts of questions pop into my head. When did I become a snooze button gal? Am I really more rested after nine more minutes of shut-eye? Is it better just to set my alarm for nine minutes later and hop out of bed immediately? Why do I obsess about such odd things? Tons of people are hitting snooze right now—it’s no big deal, right?

Actually, it just might be.

According to CNN, the innocent act of hitting the snooze button because you still feel tired and groggy can, ironically, bring on more tiredness and grogginess. How’s that for a kick in the pants? You think you’re giving your body what it’s asking for, but you’re only makes things worse. Interesting.

Sleep inertia is what the sleep experts call that feeling of haziness we sometimes experience upon waking from a sleep, especially a short one. Just think of a time you woke from a nap on the couch feeling a little disoriented. It probably took you awhile to think clearly and get back into a productive mindset. We’ve all been there.

Here’s the thing—each time you hit snooze, it’s almost like you’re taking a mini nap. The snooze button is just mini enough to cause sleep inertia, but not long enough to give your body any benefit of sleep at all. In reality, the snooze just messes with your whole circadian rhythm groove.

YawningWith a messed up circadian rhythm, we have trouble falling asleep at night, which leads to feeling tired when the alarm goes off, which leads to being tempted by that snooze button, which leads to being groggy when we climb out of bed, which leads to…oh, you get the idea. It’s another one of those vicious circles.

Resisting the pull of the snooze button for just a couple of mornings seems like the key to putting an end to the whole blasted thing. But how?

  • Listen to your body: Ideally, we’d wake up when our bodies tell us to wake up, based on an internal clock of sorts (or, like Kramer from Seinfeld, a mental alarm clock). We wouldn’t need any gadgets beeping at us to rise and shine. If your schedule allows this, go for it.
  • Follow the expert’s advice: Sleeping well during the night lessens your chances of hitting snooze when the alarm sounds. Ensure a good night’s sleep by reading Dr. Lowell Keppel’s post “It’s Never Too Late to Sleep Like a Baby.” Whether your mind races when you lay your head down or you keep getting up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, the solutions Keppel suggests for these and other sleep difficulties could be just what you’ve been looking for.
  • Just don’t do it: Like anything else in your daily routine, hitting the snooze button is probably just a habit you’ve developed. So break it. Set your alarm for the time that you need to get up, and when it goes off—get up. Even if it means putting your alarm on the other side of your bedroom. Take note of how not snoozing in the morning makes you feel throughout your day. Chances are pretty good you’ll notice a clearer head right from the get go. That should be incentive enough.

Now that I know I really do lose when I hit snooze, I’ll eliminate this occasional choice before it becomes a daily habit. I like the idea of starting my day at my best and easing into sleep at the end of it. After all, optimal health requires good sleep.

Are you a snooze button hitter? It could be time to do something about that.

Photo from iStock/Ana Blazic (at top) and Wavebreakmedia (inset)

Paula Widish

Paula Widish, author of “Trophia: Simple Steps to Everyday Self-Health”, is a freelance writer and self-healther. She loves nothing more than sharing tidbits of information she has discovered with those who are interested. (Actually, she loves her family more than that—and probably bacon too.) Paula has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Public Relations and is a Certified Professional Life Coach through International Coach Academy. To get in touch with her, leave a message here or check out her website at PaulaWidish.com

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