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Ask a Scientist: Is It Really Bad to Hit Snooze?

| March 21st, 2014
Ask a Scientist: Is It Really Bad to Hit Snooze?

The Scientist: YouBeauty Sleep Expert Shelby Harris, Psy.D.

The Answer: Sometimes when you wake up in the morning and the alarm gives out a warning, your body just says “no.” If you really feel you need another nine minutes under the covers before you can take on the day, hitting the snooze button isn’t such a big deal. If you’re doing it at least three times a week there’s probably a bigger issue at hand.

For some people, hitting snooze is as much a part of the morning routine as brushing your teeth. That’s a pretty good sign that you’re not getting the quantity or quality of sleep you need. Slapping that button and slamming your face back into the pillow gets you a little more shut-eye, sure, but it’s often very shallow, restless sleep that isn’t really restorative. If the length of your nap between beeps is too long, you could slip into a deeper stage of sleep and then have to reawaken in the middle of it, which will make you feel more groggy than if you’d pried yourself out of bed the first time. In other words, hitting snooze feels like you’re doing yourself a favor, but the impact is minimal or nonexistent.

In fact, it might even be making the long-term problem worse. One of the keys to good sleep is a consistent sleep pattern. Snoozing for a few minutes one day, a few more another day, and—it’s OK to admit it—half an hour when you really, really don’t want to go to work, throws off this pattern. For your best sleep, and to get all the sleep your body requires, you want to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every day.

If you have to snooze, only do it once, and keep it under 20 minutes to decrease the chance of falling back into deep slumber. The real ideal is to make sure you’re getting ample sleep on a regular basis so you don’t need to hit snooze at all.

QUIZ: Are You Getting Quality Sleep?

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