We hit snooze because we really, really don’t want to get out of bed, but what exactly happens to your body when it’s jolted awake like this, only to drift off again and have the process repeated?
Dr Kat Lederle, a sleep therapist and circadian rhythm specialist at Somnia, says that hitting the snooze button makes the final wake up harder. We feel groggy, maybe more so than the first wake-up.
“That feeling of grogginess can persist and colour our daytime experience in a negative way,” she says. “When we hit the snooze button, it will start to confuse your body clock because in one way or another that body clock may anticipate that usually the alarm goes off at 6:30, for example, and it will get the body somewhat ready for 6:30, but when you then decide to have a snooze, the clock and the body are a bit confused because they’ve got everything ready such as cortisol to be released into the bloodstream. And that can again lead to or contribute to the grogginess that we feel when we finally do get up.”
What if you’re a regular snoozer and you perpetually factor in an extra 20 minutes or so of snoozing time? What kind of impact does that have?
“This will reduce the quality of that sleep,” adds Lederle, “because you’re not getting back into into proper sleep, so you will remain in a lighter sleep stage. So if you do intend to snooze then, rather than actually hitting the snooze button and making the body work hard to fall back asleep, I’d say just just have that extra half an hour.”
But to make sure you don’t fall back asleep, she says, set your alarm clock further away, or do an an activity such as opening up the blinds or curtains. This light exposure should wake you up.
“The body clock is an area set up in your brain. It’s about 50,000 cells and it fits the rhythm for everything that happens in our body including sleep and wake. This body clock needs a daily reset and that is done through morning light exposure,” she explains.
“Now even when your eyes are closed, you can still perceive light so opening the curtains, at least the body clock will know that it’s light outside and the brain can get on with its data and processes.”
If you start your day by snoozing, not only can it leave you lethargic for the rest of the day, it can also impact the quality of your sleep the following night.
“It’s like if you hear noise during the night, you might wake up, which is the worst case scenario, but even if you don’t wake up, the brain will register that and there will be what we call a ‘mini arousal’ which disrupts the continuity of your sleep,” explains Lederle.
“And one thing that’s so important, maybe more so than sleep duration, is the continuity and quality of your sleep. Repeated alarms disrupt the continuity and therefore the quality of your sleep, which then means you are feeling less refreshed the next day. And so you will get tired much more quickly, therefore you might reach for stimulants like caffeine and the like to temporarily fix the problem.”
And we all know the problem with drinking too much caffeine on the body.
So if you’re a seasoned snoozer, try setting your phone further away, and maybe opening the curtains, instead of dancing with the snooze button all morning.
First Thing is a weekly series on HuffPost UK Life giving you tips and advice on how to enjoy your mornings. Whether you’re an early bird or night owl, starting your day off right will make for a happier and healthier day. We’ll be sharing exercise advice, nutrition guidance, as well as ideas on forming new habits. (And no, the answer to a productive morning isn’t just setting an alarm for 5am!)