Sometimes the “rise” part of “rise and shine” feels like just too much effort. Your alarm goes off and you’re not ready to start the day, so you hit snooze. The temptation of a few more minutes of dosing off under a comfy blanket is just too much to pass up. But what you don’t realize is that you’re setting yourself up for a more difficult morning. This split-second decision could be impacting your attitude and mental aptitude for several hours into the day!
To understand your problem, you have to understand the sleep cycle that you’re disrupting. There are 4 stages of sleep; Stages 1-3 being non-REM sleep and Stage 4 being REM sleep. Stages 1 and 2 are periods of light sleep. Stages 3 and 4 are the stages of deep sleep, with Stage 4 REM sleep being the deepest stage of sleep where dreaming occurs. Throughout the night you’ll cycle through all of these stages multiple times. You’ll first enter REM sleep roughly 90 minutes after falling asleep. After that, you’ll remain in the REM Stage longer each time it occurs, up to an hour as you continue to sleep.
When you hit the snooze button and fall back asleep right after your alarm goes off, your body only has enough time to enter the lightest stages of sleep, which offer no real restorative benefits like deep sleep does. Sara Benjamin, instructor of Neurology at Johns Hopkins Medicine, says “hitting snooze can also prolong sleep inertia, that heavy, fog-brained sensation, most profound a few minutes after awakening, although it can last a few hours”.
By hitting the snooze button, you’re also disrupting the creation of a routine; an immediate reaction as a result of the sound of your alarm. By making it routine to get out of bed right after your alarm, your body is being told it should automatically wake up after your alarm. However, when you hit the snooze button, you no longer have a routine. You have to make a choice: either get up or fall back asleep. Adding in this choice sounds like a small inconvenience, but it takes the ease out of getting up without thinking and turns it into yet another decision to make in the morning. This is adding one more unnecessary barrier to getting your day started, when it could have been started with no thought and just a knee-jerk reaction instead.
How do you fix a bad habit? If you’re hitting snooze while still drowsy and feel that you’re not able to control the habit, try placing your alarm clock across the room. Having to get up and physically walk to turn it off should wake you up enough to keep you up.
Don’t forget to listen to what your body may be trying to tell you. Feeling too tired to start your day every day may be a sign of sleep deprivation. If you’re going to bed early but still feel tired, the cause may be poor sleep quality. Taking a quick online sleep screening can help determine if you’re at risk of a sleep disorder.