How to Stop Hitting the Snooze Button—and Avoid Dangerous Side Effects from Snoozing
If it takes you 15 minutes to get out of bed after your alarm goes off, it's time to learn how to stop hitting the snooze button once and for all.
I’m a religious snoozer. TBH, if I'm late to work it's usually because I hit the snooze button too many times. I’m that girl who sets multiple alarms, all five to ten minutes apart, and snoozes between them. But here's the thing: according to experts, getting five minutes of extra rest from snoozing really isn't worth it.
For starters, when you snooze you're not getting high-quality sleep. “The time you snooze is essentially breaking up a long run in sustained sleep into a fragmented mess of light sleep punctuated by wakefulness,” explains W. Christopher Winter, MD, a sleep specialist at Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine, in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Then there's how exhausted you feel after you snooze. “We refer to this as sleep drunkenness [or sleep inertia], because that is what it feels like,” says Dr. Winter. Sleep inertia most commonly occurs with abrupt awakenings, and symptoms can include sleepiness and cognitive impairment once awake (which could make, say, driving a car first thing in the morning dangerous).
In addition to training your brain to ignore your alarm clock, you're putting your health at risk by snoozing in the morning, says Dr. Winter. “The constant sleep interruption has a cardiovascular risk factor and may carry with it cancer and cognitive risk as well,” he explains.
So, what’s the best wake up routine? Sleep until you need to get up, and then actually get up. Snoozing may be a tough habit to break initially, but it’s not impossible. Keep reading for Dr. Winter's tips on how to rise with your alarm and stop hitting the snooze button.
Get enough sleep.
Though research can’t pinpoint exactly how much sleep individuals need, experts do agree on a rule-of-thumb amount for each age group. According to the National Sleep Foundation, it’s recommended that people ages 18-64 get a total of seven to nine hours of sleep on average.
Stick to a sleep schedule.
Go to bed at the same time every night, even on weekends. If you find yourself chronically hitting the snooze button, try hitting the sack a half-hour or hour earlier than you typically do. This could reduce your overall sleep deprivation and make it easier to get out of bed in the morning. Over time your body will become accustomed to the routine and be able to wake up naturally without relying on an alarm.
Put your alarm clock out of reach.
When the buzzer goes off in the morning, you’ll be forced to get out of bed to turn it off. At that point, you’re already awake and moving, so it will be easier to start your day instead of dozing off again.
Invest in a new alarm.
If traditional alarm clocks aren't doing the trick, it might be time to wake up a different way. The Wake-up Light Alarm Clock ($40; Amazon), for example, rouses you with light that mimics a sunrise that gradually increases in brightness over a 30-minute period, instead of a blaring beep. Another alternative is to download an alarm app such as “I Can’t Wake Up Alarm Clock”. Instead of allowing you to simply tap a snooze button, it forces you to do something more complex (like practice a foreign language) before you can turn off the alarm.
Make a breakfast treat the night before.
It’s OK to bribe yourself to get out of bed. As soon as you get up, make yourself a cup of coffee or indulge in a bowl of overnight oats with your favorite toppings. Having something to look forward to first thing in the morning is a great incentive to start your day right when you wake up.