Welcome to the first in (hopefully) a series of articles about the myths people believe about sleep; aptly named: Sleep Myths. Catchy title, I know. I spent a lot of time coming up with it.
Anyway, as I come across common (or not so common) sleep myths, I will include them in this series. If you have a question about something that you think may be a myth, post a comment below, or email me (jason@TheSleepHygienist.com) and I will answer it. Without further ado, here is Myth number one.
Sleep Myth: Hitting the snooze button in the morning will allow you to get a few extra minutes of sleep, thus helping you to feel more rested, and better equipped to face the day. This "extra sleep" is beneficial.
Truth: Not so much. Hitting the snooze button is actually hurting your sleep, not helping it. It is also a sign that you are not getting enough sleep to start with. You are sleep deprived.
It is a well know belief that hitting the snooze button allows the body to get a short stretch of extra sleep. Just a little more rest. However, this sleep-fragmentation does just the opposite. Waking every nine minutes to hit the snooze can actually lead to daytime sleep deprived impairment.
Because true sleep does not come in nine-minute intervals, you need to be realistic about when you need to be up in the morning. If you need to be up at 7:00am, then set your alarm for 7:00am. Don’t set it for 6:33 so you “get to sleep in” for three 9-minute intervals.
People will argue that it feels good to not have to get up just yet. And that allure of the snooze button on the alarm clock is a way to avoid getting out of bed right now.
Hitting the snooze button is actually hurting your sleep...
Think of it this way: You are getting a higher quality of sleep between bedtime and your first alarm than you are from alarm and snooze alarm (or between snooze alarm 1 and snooze alarm 2, 3, etc). You actually would be ahead of the game (quality sleep-wise), by setting your alarm for when you actually have to get up, rather than snoozing until that time.
If you absolutely have to get a little extra sleep after waking yourself with an alarm, then reset your alarm for 20 minutes in the future. Sleep Fragmentation experts suggest that the optimal nap length is around 20 minutes. Anything less than that, (like a 9-min snooze alarm), does very little for you. Anything longer, then you are going to slip into a deeper level of sleep. Then if your alarm goes off, you are going to wake up even groggier and tired than if you only napped 20 minutes. While hitting the snooze isn’t ideal, a 20 minute snooze is better than a 9.
Of course, technology continues to improve, and alarm clock technology is no exception. Any iPhone or Android device will allow you to set a specific amount of time you can snooze. So again, if you really, really need to snooze, you can set your device to 20 minutes, and hopefully minimize the damage.
But if you’re tired of waking up exhausted, then hitting the snooze button isn’t for you.
Just trust me on this: they mess with your sleep cycle. For higher quality zzz’s try going to bed earlier and get a solid night’s sleep (7-9 hours). And for goodness sake, stop using the snooze alarm.
I apologize in advance, but I can’t resist quoting this age old adage, which turns out to be true: “You snooze, you lose.”
If you found value in this post, consider sharing it on social media.