One of my worst bad habits is snoozing my alarm when it goes off every morning. John and I both do it, and usually our alarms aren’t synced, so his goes off, then a few minutes later mine goes off, and then his again a couple minutes later, then mine, then his, etc., etc. If I weren’t so busy trying to squeeze in a few more minutes of sleep, I’d probably be annoyed by the influx of interruptions every morning.
Instead, we take turns tapping the Snooze button on each of our iPhones and rolling over for just a few more minutes of shuteye. And then a few more. And then a few more. It is such a part of my wakeup routine that I really don’t think twice about it most days.
But earlier this week, after hitting Snooze for the first time Tuesday morning (I usually partake in 3 to 4 snoozes a day), a thought came to me. Is snoozing for a half hour or more every day affecting my health? The question was enough to pique my interest, but alas, as the true snoozer I am, I fell back asleep regardless of my curiosity.
As someone who is obsessed with productivity, my lazy morning habit is kind of embarrassing to admit. I searched online later that day to see what my routine is doing to me mentally, and holy cow, I was shocked to learn all of the implications that snoozing has on health, sleep quality, and daytime fatigue. Figuring (hoping) I couldn’t be alone in this a.m. faux pas, I’m passing on the knowledge.
I’m also writing about this because my plan that I’m very scared of and not at all looking forward to, but that all experts say you must do to recover from snooze-aholism, is getting up. The alarm goes off (mine’s set for 6:30 every day), and I get out of bed. At least, that’s the earth-shattering cure that everyone else says you gotta do.
And I need accountability, so friends, if you’re a snoozer or not, I’d love company in my early-morning, waking-up misery and support in this un-fun endeavor. (The hilarity that I’ve always had the audacity to call myself a “morning person” amid this wakeup call debacle is not lost on me. I may have to change my label to “post-coffee morning person.” I’m okay with that.)
I got most of my information from an article from Amerisleep, and the following are some of the most appalling effects of snoozing.
Your sleep cycle is screwed. A quick sleep cycle recap: When you go to bed, you first enter the light sleep stage, where drowsiness leads to a slowed heart rate and your body temp drops as you fall asleep. Then you go into deep sleep, the stage when your body regrows tissue, builds muscle and bone, and heightens immunity. After that is REM (rapid eye movement), usually about 90 minutes after first nodding off; it’s a highly active and also highly restorative stage of sleep, and is imperative for focus and sharpness during the day.
When our alarms go off in the morning, usually it’s toward the end of a REM cycle. If you get up right away, that signals to the brain that REM is done. But, when we (okay, okay, when ‘I’) snooze and go back to sleep, we’re thrown right back into REM. Then, the next time the alarm sounds, you’re in the middle of REM, rather than at the end like you were when the alarm first went off, and we’re left befuddled and foggy, instead of rested and ready for the day.
Your quality of sleep all night is screwed, too. As long as you go to bed at a decent time, you should be ready to wake up when your alarm goes off. But if you go back to sleep after getting woken up, your body spirals into confusion. When is it supposed to wake up? When is it supposed to be sleeping? Interrupting REM over and over by snoozing several times makes your body believe REM may be interrupted all throughout the night, leading to poor sleep quality and tossing and turning.
I can totally attest to this. I wake up several times throughout the night—sometimes I just stir fuzzily, other times I’m up for hours at a time. Now that I understand how I’ve been habitually disrupting REM, I can see how this happens so often.
Your immune system, ability to focus, stress levels, and long-term physical health are, you guessed it, screwed. According to the Amerisleep research and also my own research life, ineffective sleep can cause irritability or snappiness (oops). But, even worse, it leads to major stress, poor immunity, and heightened inflammation. And high inflammation levels can cause heart disease, cancer, stroke, and cognitive decline later on. A mere week of unproductive sleep can hinder hundreds of genes in the body.
After learning about these negative side effects of snoozing, I’m stubbornly realizing a few more minutes of sleep are so not worth it. They seem so delicious and dreamy (pun intended) in the moment, but since snoozing basically trashes all my waking and sleeping hours, I suppose it’s time to give it up, and just get up. Y’all in?
If you’re a recovering snoozer, drop your tips for waking up with ease below in a comment, or shoot me an email!