It’s a small mercy. Your alarm goes off in the early morning, it’s still dark outside, and you have two options: either get out of your warm bed now or enjoy just a few more minutes of lovely, lovely sleep. The Snooze button seems like it’s your friend, providing you with just a tiny bit more rest before facing eighteen hours of consciousness, right? What a pal. But the truth is, the Snooze button is not your friend.
The Snooze button is your Frenemy.
The fact is, relying on the Snooze function to “squeeze in” a little more sleep is terrible for your sleep health. There are two main reasons for this.
First, although you may indeed fall back asleep for a few minutes, the quality of that post-Snooze sleep is not great. It’s a light stage of sleep, not the deep sleep that scientists believe truly restores us.
Let’s say you need to be awake and out of bed by 7:00 A.M. in order to get to work on time. Maybe you set your alarm for 6:30 with the idea that you can ride that Snooze button for thirty minutes and thereby wake up in a more relaxed way. It’s logical, but it doesn’t work. That’s because you’re getting thirty minutes of not-so-great sleep instead of remaining in that deeper, more restorative sleep between 6:30 and 7:00.
By hitting Snooze, in other words, you’ve willingly destroyed thirty good minutes of sleep in exchange for six five-minute bursts of crappy semi-wakefulness. Not a great deal.
The second way the Snooze button works against you is by making the waking process more stressful than it needs to be. Although nobody loves jumping out of bed the moment the alarm goes off, at least that process is straightforward and clear. Goal? Waking up. Mission? Accomplished.
By hitting the Snooze button, however, you’ve turned the act of waking into an intellectual problem: should I get up now? Why or why not? If I don’t, should I feel guilty? Using the Snooze button turns a clear-cut signal (time to wake up) into a stressful decision point (when will I wake up?)-- first thing in the morning. Not only is it an aggravating way to start your day, it’s actually tiring!
If you find the idea of quitting the Snooze button intimidating, look at it this way: Snoozing does not equal sleeping. Snoozing is a sad, stressful imitation of real sleep. It’s what carob is to chocolate, what a rec center lap pool is to the Pacific Ocean, what fat-free milk is to whipped cream: not nearly as good as the real thing. Sleep is your friend. Snooze is your Frenemy.