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Why hitting the snooze button is a bad idea!

Have you ever noticed that your phone’s snooze function may be set to 9 minutes by default? The snooze feature, first introduced by General Electric-Telechron company in its analogue Snooze-Alarm clock in 1956, has an interesting history. When the snooze feature was invented, the creators tried to retrofit it into the analogue clocks, but they were not able to perfectly fit the gear teeth to produce a 10-min snooze. They had two options, either 9 min or a little less than 11 min. The clockmakers went ahead with the 9-min option, a decision whose reasoning is still debated (1).

But why should we never hit that snooze button? It may appear to be a harmless habit, but hitting the snooze button may be sabotaging your morning routine and leaving you groggy and exhausted all day. Sleep inertia, is the scientific term that describes the groggy and disoriented feeling you have when you wake up (2). When you hit the snooze button, you may think you're getting a few extra minutes of sleep, but in reality, you're interrupting your sleep cycle. According to research, when you return to sleep after waking up, your brain initiates a new sleep cycle that takes 90 to 110 min to complete (3). As a result, when your alarm goes off again in 9 min, you'll probably feel even more tired than when your first alarm went off. That groggy, exhausted feeling isn't due to a lack of sleep, but rather to putting your brain into a state of sleep inertia (4). The effects of sleep inertia can last for hours, depending on the individual. It can take up to four hours for your brain to fully recover from the groggy feeling caused by sleep inertia (5), which means that hitting the snooze button could be sabotaging your entire morning routine.

So how do we resist that snooze button?

Here are a few tips to help prevent hitting the snooze button.

  • Improve your sleep hygiene: Sleep hygiene refers to healthy sleep habits or behaviours that you can engage in to help improve your ability to fall and stay asleep throughout the night. For example, avoiding alcohol and screen time before bed, keeping your bedroom quiet, dark and cool.

  • Set realistic alarms: set the alarm for when you want to get up out of bed and not as a snoozing buffer until you are ready to get up.

  • Get 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night: Adults require at least 7 hours of sleep per night, with older adults over 60, requiring between 7 and 9 hours. If you're having trouble falling asleep, try to limit or avoid taking naps and caffeine during the day if possible.

  • Follow a consistent sleep schedule: Go to bed around the same time every night. Set the same alarm time every day (including weekends).

  • Get out of bed as soon as your alarm goes off: consider moving your phone across the room, so you must get up.

Remember, the snooze button may seem like a friend in the moment, but in the long run, it's a thief of time, productivity, and vitality.

When you snooze, you lose.

By Rachel Sheppard







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