The Snooze Button*

To hit, or not to hit: that is the question:
Whether ’tis easier in the mind to enjoy
The drowsy sluggishness of outrageous snoozing,
Or get up straight away and take arms against the day,
And by leaping out of bed conquor the snooze button.

*With apologies to Mr William Shakespeare

Ahhh, the snooze button surely one of man’s better inventions … until 9 minutes later when the dreaded alarm strikes again. Except now you feel even more tired, so do you hit it again? Are those extra minutes really helping you at all, or is it the beginning of a never-ending cycle that ends in you being late … and still dead tired?

Should You Hit the Snooze Button ?

In a world without alarm clocks, our bodies would simply wake up naturally. Our bodies have many chemical mechanisms in place not only to put us to sleep but to wake us up as well.

[Diagram – the sleep cycle ]

The body begins preparing in the hour before you naturally wake up. Body temperature rises, sleep becomes lighter, and hormones such as dopamine and cortisol are released, which give you energy to start your day. But the problem with alarms is that they often interrupt your sleep cycle and cut these processes short, particularly if you don’t have a regular sleep rhythm, or schedule. The alarm goes off, but your body isn’t quite ready. This groggy and tired state is known as sleep inertia, and its strength is related to which sleep stage you’re waking up out of; the deeper the sleep, the more potent the sleep inertia. And so the snoozing begins.

HOWEVER the snooze button can do more damage than good. As you fall back asleep, your body may restart its sleep cycle and enter into deeper sleep stages.

So instead of your body prepping to wake up, it’s going in the opposite direction! As a result the second alarm may cause you to feel even more tired. And so continues the vicious cycle. Ultimately, you’re better off setting your alarm later and not interrupting your sleep.

Many studies have found that fragmented sleep is much less restorative and leads to sleepiness-related daytime impairment. So by breaking up those last thirty minutes or so of sleep, you’re more likely to feel tired and perform poorly during the day.

What to do then ?

Try adopting a more regular sleep schedule. Being tired is a product not only of sleep deprivation and waking up out of deep sleep but also of lacking a consistent schedule. Your body loves predictability.

Wake up at the same time every morning-including the weekends-and after a few weeks, your body should adapt to the timing and be less inclined to require an alarm in the first place.

SO if you do wake up feeling a little tired, resist the snooze temptation and just get up…..

“If You Snooze, You Lose.”