The Ugly Truth About the Snooze Button

Sunday, May 27, 2018

When you snooze, you lose – literally.

In a world where we never seem to get enough sleep (Netflix binging, endless emails, and Facebook feeds, anyone?), trying to snag an extra 10-20 minutes of sleep in the morning by hitting your snooze button over and over... isn’t actually going to help.

What it will do is wreak havoc on your body and destroy your quality of sleep.

Wait… what?!

While it might seem harmless (and feel so darn good) to stay in bed just a little bit longer, you’re confusing the heck out of your body and brain. Every time your alarm (annoyingly) goes off again, your body and your brain are startled out of sleep, and you wake up groggy with a fuzzy head (this is called sleep inertia).

There’s even a scientific term for this behaviour – the weird, sleepy state of falling asleep and waking up in the morning? It’s called drockling.

But an extra chunk of sleep can’t really hurt me, can it?

The trouble with “drockling” is the more you do it, the more confused your body feels.

These days, most people don’t even use traditional alarm clocks anymore; they use their smartphones. If you have an iPhone, your snooze setting is 9 minutes long (an homage to mechanical clocks from back in the day).

Hitting the touchscreen to quiet your alarm and sleeping in is a guilty pleasure – you intuitively know you shouldn’t do it. While an extra 9 minutes might seem like a great idea, it’s not giving your body enough time to fall back into a restful, deep sleep.

Your body needs routine and consistency (something we consistently – almost militantly – ensure our babies and children get but fail to do for ourselves).

At worst, you’re abusing the heck out of your nervous system (what one neuroscientist dubs cardiovascular assault) and overlooking the underlying cause for your inability to get up in the morning. At best, you’re training your body to ignore itself.

Okay, then why do I do it?

It’s a simple answer - you hit the snooze button because you’re not getting enough sleep, or you’re waking up feeling unrested.

Why you’re not getting a good sleep can be for a number of different, quite common reasons:

  • stress
  • room temperature
  • back problems
  • snoring partners
  • uncomfortable bed
  • spending too much time on your phone

Sleep deprivation can also be a legitimate health problem caused by medications, substance abuse, mental health issues, or a sleep disorder. The most common medical culprit is sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that’s all too often overlooked or misdiagnosed (especially since sleep apnea symptoms can be completely different in women).

How can I break this habit?

Some sleep tips for waking up refreshed include:

  • limiting technology time before bed
  • putting your mind at easy by reading or meditating before bed
  • avoiding stimulants close to bedtime
  • exercising and eating healthy foods
  • spending time outside during the day
  • taking a Vitamin D supplement
  • ensuring that you’ve got a comfortable bed, low lighting, and an ideal room temperature
  • and – of course – train yourself to get up with that very first alarm!

If you think you might have a sleep disorder like sleep apnea, take a look at these symptoms and see if you’re at risk. You can even take our sleep quiz to find out if you should get tested and seek sleep apnea treatment.