I am often asked by my patients if it is okay to keep hitting the snooze button for those extra zzzz’s. They want to know if it is beneficial or detrimental. My answer is: Ask yourself why do you need to do that, and does it really make you feel better? In reality, it may not only be a sign of inadequate or poor quality sleep, but it can make functioning during the day even more difficult.
In many instances, you may be suffering from what we call social jet lag. You sleep much longer on weekends but on weekdays, given the pressure of a job or family, you can’t. Hitting the snooze alarm is a fruitless effort to obtain the sleep that you really need.
When you hit the snooze alarm, you are disrupting your current stage of sleep. Unfortunately, in many ways, fragmented sleep is worse than no sleep. As an example, if you are in REM sleep and you interrupt it with the snooze alarm, this can lead to an inability to process and reconcile emotionally laden memories from the previous day. In addition, fragmented sleep can result in moodiness, cognitive problems, and trouble paying attention.
What can we do to avoid this? First, we must realize that in many cases our body is telling us that we are not getting enough sleep. Try going to bed one-half hour earlier. Turn off all blue light emitting devices at least one hour before bedtime. Blue light delays the production of melatonin that results in lingering amounts of the sleep hormone in your blood stream upon awakening. Is it any wonder you can’t wake up?
Other remedies include putting the alarm clock where you cannot reach it; using alarm clocks that work by putting out ever-increasing amounts of light as wake-up time approaches; having a coffee maker with a timer set for ten minutes before wake time and close enough so that you can smell it. Even getting a device that can automatically increase your bedroom temperature about one hour before it is time to get up can be helpful, as rising body temperature is another signal to wake up.
The bottom line is that if you chronically find the need to hit the snooze alarm, something is probably wrong. You may be out of sync with your internal circadian clock. You may be a night owl trying to keep the work schedule of a morning lark. You may be someone who is failing at attempting to burn the candle at both ends. Alternatively, you may have a sleep disorder that unbeknownst to you is disrupting and depriving you of quality sleep. Hitting the snooze button is a poor substitute for healthy sleep.
How The Snooze Button Affects Your Sleep originally appeared on Everyday Health