What are the implications of having “just five more minutes”?
The task of dragging ourselves out of bed in the morning is something many of us struggle with every single day. The temptation to spend as long as possible tucked up in bed is all too great, and a large number of us rely on the snooze button to give us as long as possible before we’re forced to face the day.
But is it doing us more harm than good to get those extra few minutes? Does snoozing make it easier or harder to actually get out of bed?
Unfortunately for those of us who like to take advantage of the snooze button, most sleep science experts tend to lean more towards the negative impacts of snoozing.
According to the experts, snoozing won’t make you feel more rested, and can actually make it harder to get up in the morning. But there are arguments for both sides of the debate, and it is possible to snooze the right way.
Why is snoozing bad for you?
The main argument against snoozing is simply that you’re better off having an extended period of actual sleep instead. Repeatedly hitting the snooze button suggests that you have that time to spare, meaning it could be spent continuing with undisturbed sleep before just getting out of bed at a later first alarm.
There is a science behind this, too. The facts suggest that those of us who are already overtired are more at risk of the negative implications of snoozing. This is because sleep-deprived individuals are more likely to fall back into the beginning of the sleep cycle after hitting the snooze button, producing more of the hormones that encourage deep sleep. The beginning of the sleep cycle is the worst point to be woken up as it will lead our minds and bodies to believe we’ve had a poor night’s sleep overall.
And there’s more. Snoozing can confuse our minds even further because it subliminally changes what we think our alarm means. Instead of being a trigger for us to think “I need to get out of bed now”, it becomes a signal for a “just a few more minutes” response. This can be repeated over and over again, making it harder to get out of bed.
How do you snooze the right way?
So clearly, snoozing isn’t going to do us any good, but it’s also not a great threat you need to avoid completely. As an insurance policy, it’s effective for preventing us from sleeping in and can actually be somewhat beneficial in certain circumstances.
It all depends on whether you’re falling back to sleep after hitting the button. If you are, you’re putting yourself at risk from all the side effects explored above like further tiredness. If, however, you’re using the few minutes between that first and second alarm to lie awake, gently rousing yourself, it can be a useful way to wake up more gradually rather than jolting out of sleep and into the day ahead.
So avoid snoozing if you’re so exhausted that you’re falling straight back to sleep in the interim period. Instead, sleep for as long as you can and maybe use a single snooze alarm to slowly tell yourself it’s time to spring into action.
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