Science Explains Why You Should Stop Hitting The Snooze Button

It's all too tempting to hit the snooze button when the alarm goes off in the morning. You might think the extra few minutes will give you time to wake up, but it does more harm than good. This video explains why.

The folks at ASAP Science explain that while you might think that hitting snooze will give you a chance to finish your natural sleep cycle and wake up feeling rested, that's not what happens. After you hit snooze and drift off, your brain starts its sleep cycle all over again. When the alarm goes off a second time, you're likely at an even deeper, earlier part of your sleep cycle, which results in you feeling even worse than you did the first time.

If you regularly wake up feeling groggy, they explain the trouble may be that your alarm is going off at the wrong part of your sleep cycle. Try setting your alarm a few minutes later (or getting up a little earlier) and sticking to a regular sleep schedule to get a nice rhythm going. For more tips, check out our guide to getting a better night's sleep and rebooting your sleep schedule.

Should You Use the SNOOZE Button? [YouTube]


Comments

    Agree completely on never hitting the snooze button, it only makes you feel worse.

    I was expecting them to cover sleep blocks but they didn't. Basically the sleep cycle works on roughly 4 hour blocks, with 8 hours total sleep being optimal. If you've already stayed up late and have to be up in 6 hours, you should find that you'll feel better when you do wake up if you stay up a little longer and get just over 4 hours instead. Regularly getting in-between amounts (2 hours or 6 hours) causes serious long-term fatigue in most people.

    There's also the health issue. With 8 hours as optimal, regularly getting either less or more sleep than that each night increases the risk of heart related problems in later life, by some pretty serious percentages. The study was ages ago but from memory, 6 hours sleep increased the risk of some problems by 15% or so, 7 hours increased by 5%, and 9 hours by more than 20%.

      Most modern research suggests people are very different in how much sleep they require, while around 8 might be an acceptable average (though no one likes to put an exact number on it, and the 8 hour mark is highly controversial now, 6-9 hours is a wide margin but a safer one too), it's really just not as simple as '9 hours is bad for you,' or '5 hours? You must be the walking dead!'

      Presumably said individual differences are the reason you get so much conflicting information about sleep, you will just as easily find research that supports 3 hour cycles as 4 hour cycles (I think 3 is more commonly accepted now though?), and studies that found '6 hours is optimal,' and everything else is rubbish.

        8 hours isn't particularly controversial in actual research. Individual needs vary but we all have a lot in common biologically. 9 hours on a regular basis is bad for you from a heart health perspective. I haven't seen 3 hours or 6 hours advocated in any study, both of those are usually considered negative. I have seen some statistical analyses suggesting 6 hours is optimal but those have been debunked by peer followups on PubMed. Do you have a link?

        Last edited 22/03/13 8:06 am

          But... the idea of 9 hrs seems so amazing! Oh the restfulness!

          I get about 7.5hrs every night and I wake up feeling terrible. I think I need more.

            9 is very tempting, I agree =) A colleague of mine has a new baby so he's lucky to get 5 hours. Compared to that, I consider myself pretty lucky!

              I regularly get 4-5 hours sleep (at least 3 times a week, I like working at night but have a day job) and usually feel much better the day after as opposed to when I have 8+ hours sleep the night before.

              But then on the weekends I think I catch up on sleep and have around 8-10 hours, but not always.

      I'm curious about the 4 hour blocks; I've only ever heard of the sleep cycles which are 90-120 minutes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep#Physiology). I know that when I get a whole number of sleep cycles, I feel far more rested.

        I think 4 hours came from a combination of 8 hours being the target, and the natural inclination of the body to wake up in the middle of the sleep process at least once. It's been a while since I've looked at research on this so I'm a bit rusty on the specifics, unfortunately.

    Be careful of the assumption that changing sleep times will fix the problem.

    I used to wake up feeling exhausted irrespective of the amount of sleep I was getting. After having a sleep study I was diagnosed with severe sleep aponea (88 events/hr).

    The on-going treatment from that has significantly improved my fatigue, weight loss and general health.

    I haven't got time to watch the video, but assuming the article is correct - it really depends on the length of time you 'snooze' for.. And even then, it's entirely personal. As a general rule it takes 60-90 minutes to reenter a sleep cycle.

    Personally I give myself 5 more minutes because that feeling of 'ahhh I dont have to quiiiite get up yet' is absolutely awesome.. Quite often I don't even go back to sleep, I just lie there reveling in the comfort of my surrounds.

    The truth in my opinion is that if you're waking up tired, you're either not getting enough sleep, getting too much sleep, or you're simply timing it wrong. As the name implies its a cycle.. Try going to bed 30 minutes earlier or later, if no success - 60 minutes. It's really a personal thing.

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