It’s 7:30 AM and your alarm is blaring. You know you should probably get up and get started with your day, but you’re still tired and your bed is crazy comfortable.
It’s totally normal to want to hit the snooze button. And plenty of us do it: According to one survey, more than one in three adults press snooze three times before getting up in the morning. And more than half of adults in their twenties and early thirties say that they hit the snooze button every morning.
And while its not a huge deal to snag a few extra minutes of shut eye once in a while, fighting your alarm on a regular basis might actually leave you feeling more tired during the day and sleep worse at night.
Skeptical? Allow us to change your mind. Here’s why hitting the snooze button will leave you feeling lousy—and how to stop relying on it to feel well rested.
How Snoozing Messes With Your Sleep Cycle
In order to understand why hitting the snooze button can be so detrimental, it helps to have a grasp on your sleep cycle, or the stages of sleep your brain cycles through in order to help you rest up and recharge.
Ideally, when your head hits the pillow, you feel drowsy and begin to nod off. Now, you’re in light sleep, when your heart rate slows down and your body temperature drops.
After light sleep comes deep sleep. This stage is super important, since it’s the period of sleep when your body is hard at work regrowing tissue, building bone and muscle, and strengthening your immune system.
Once you’ve moved through deep sleep, you hit REM sleep. During REM (which stands for rapid eye movement), your brain is highly active and you experience intense dreams. But despite that intense activity, REM sleep is actually highly restorative—and getting enough of it is crucial for feeling sharp and focused the next day. You usually experience your first REM stage about 90 minutes after you first nod off, and cycle through several times throughout the night.
So what does all this have to do with the snooze button? When your alarm goes off in the morning, you’re usually nearing the end of your last REM cycle.
Wake up and get yourself out of bed, and the REM cycle ends. Hit the snooze button and go back to sleep, though, and you throw yourself right back into the REM cycle. When your alarm goes off a second time, it wakes you up in the middle of REM instead of at the end of REM. As a result, you end up feeling foggy and disoriented. Not exactly the best way to start your day.
The Long Term Consequences of Hitting Snooze
There’s more. If you went to bed at a decent hour the night before, your body’s internal clock is ready to wake up once the alarm goes off. But when you hit snooze and go back to sleep, you send your whole system into a confusing tailspin. Before long, your body isn’t sure when it’s time to wake up and when it’s time to go to sleep.
And if your body doesn’t know when it’s time to go to sleep, you could be spending a lot of time tossing and turning. As a result, you end up getting less of the quality sleep you need. And it doesn’t take long. Just one week of poor sleep can mess with hundreds of genes in your body—leading to heightened stress, lowered immunity, and increased inflammation.
After a while, those effects start to add up. When you’re stressed, you have a harder time focusing and are more prone to feeling snappy or irritable. When your immune system isn’t working at capacity, you’re more likely to get sick—which could make it even harder to achieve quality sleep. Worst of all? Experiencing chronically high levels of inflammation could increase your risk for serious health problems like heart disease, cancer, stroke, and cognitive decline.
Figuring Out Why You’re Hitting the Snooze Button
We’ve established that hitting the snooze button will probably make you feel foggy and more tired. And regularly relying on it to sneak in more Zzz’s will mess with your body’s internal clock, which can actually deprive you of sleep and set you up for some major health problems.
In other words, you should try to hit snooze as infrequently as possible. But to reduce your reliance on the magic button, you need to figure out what’s making you want to sleep in in the first place. To get to the answer, consider these questions:
- Are you going to bed early enough? If you’re staying up too late, it’s no wonder you want to press snooze in the morning. Experts agree that most of us do best on seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Which means that if your alarm starts blaring at 7:00 AM, you should be sleep by midnight at the latest.
- Are you exercising? Study after study shows that people who are active tend to sleep better than their sedentary counterparts. Make it a habit to get moving for at least half an hour most days of the week—and see if you don’t end up snoozing more soundly.
- Are you hyped up before bed? Downing an espresso before dinner or scrolling through Instagram as you try to nod off will keep you energized and make it harder to fall asleep. On the other hand, doing something mellow—like taking a bath or reading—will help you feel calmer and more relaxed.
- Are you comfortable in your bedroom? If your environment isn’t comfy, you’ll have a harder time falling asleep and will be more likely to toss and turn throughout the night. Do what you can to ensure you’re on the best mattress for you. And keep your room as quiet, dark, and cool as possible. (Be sure to keep it quiet, too, since sounds can have a major impact on your sleep cycle.)
- Do you have any chronic sleep issues? Problems like restless leg syndrome and obstructive sleep apnea can cause you to experience poor, fragmented sleep. If you notice that physical symptoms are messing with your snooze time and leaving you tired in the morning, talk with your doctor about treatment options.
What To Do Instead of Hitting Snooze
The answer is pretty simple, but you might not like it: Just get out of bed. Yes, waking up as soon as your alarm goes off will probably feel unpleasant at first. But after a few minutes, that groggy feeling will wear off—and you’ll start your day feeling refreshed and ready for action. (Which, if you’re used to dragging yourself out of bed every morning, might seem hard to imagine.)
And if you don’t totally trust yourself to say no to the lure of the snooze button? Go with the age-old trick of putting your alarm on the other side of your bedroom, far away from your bed. But don’t feel too bummed. At the end of the day, you can dive right back into dreamland.
Have you stopped hitting the snooze button? Did you notice an impact in how you felt during the day—and how you slept at night?
This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.