Is hitting the snooze button on our morning alarms doing us any good?
We are all guilty of hitting the snooze button when we feel like we’re not well-rested enough, or simply out of habit. If you’re a culprit of doing this, you’ll certainly understand the feeling of waking to the first alarm, falling back into what feels like a deep sleep, to then be startled by your next alarm 5 or 10 minutes later.
But is this actually good for us? It feels nice at the time, and you may even convince yourself that you’re more rested because of it, however, this is generally not the case. If you’ve read our previous blog on how our sleep cycles work, then you’ll know that the last stage in our sleep cycle is rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep.
REM sleep is important for memory consolidation and feeling refreshed in the morning, but due to lots of brain activity, it means that the brain isn’t too far off being awakened at this point. However, does that mean it’s okay to half wake up and drift back to sleep in between alarms?
During the snooze time between our alarms, many of us return to the REM stage of sleep. But because we are returning to this stage after a disruption, the sleep will not have the benefits that we talked about before. In fact, a sudden awakening and allowing your body to return to sleep mode can have the opposite effect: feeling groggy, unrefreshed and even causing sleep inertia.
The latter can be caused specifically by hearing the alert of your snoozed alarm. Essentially, sleep inertia impairs your concentration and awareness due to being in a drowsy sleep state after you wake up. Overall, this can last anywhere between five minutes to several hours, and this really all depends on how much of a deep sleep you fall into in between snoozed alarms.
A much more effective way of using the snooze button is not letting yourself fall back to sleep between alarms and using the time instead to wake up slowly. Who says you need to jump out of bed immediately after your alarm anyway? If you use the time to have a stretch, open the curtains and maybe catch up with what happened overnight, it will help keep that sleepy, groggy feeling at bay.
If you feel like you’ve tried doing this but still can’t stop yourself from snoozing your alarms and falling asleep between them, you may have an underlying sleep disorder or issue. Before visiting a GP about this though, it’s important to ensure that you’re getting at least 7-8 hours sleep a night first!