The Snooze Button Isn't Doing What You Think It Is

Published On 11/04/2016 Published On 11/04/2016
snooze button and sleep quality

As good as it might feel to not wake up when the alarm clock goes off, the snooze button is not your friend. It's like the drug dealer in a PSA from the 70s. The first hit is free, but you'll be paying for it later. 

That was the message relayed by behavioral scientist Dan Ariely in his recent Wall Street Journal column. "Set your alarm for exactly the time you need to get up," he writes. "Since you want to start your day at 7am, you may be tempted to set the alarm a bit early β€” let's say 6:40am β€” and hit snooze a few times until it is 7am or maybe even 7:15am. But if you pick this snooze strategy, your body can't learn the conditioned response between hearing the alarm and getting up."

Studies have corroborated that conclusion. You're better off sleeping in a continuous stream as long as possible, instead of breaking it up at the end with the snooze button. That fragmented sleep can do more damage than good, as ASAP Science demonstrates in the below video.

"In general, our bodies do better when they can get used to a single clear rule β€” to get out of bed the moment the alarm sounds," Ariely says. "When we play with the snooze button, our bodies get a confused message β€” sometimes we hear the beeping and get up, sometimes we hear it and stay put for 10 more minutes, sometimes we lie there for another 20 minutes, and so on."

Your alarm clock, in many ways, should be training your body how to react. Like Pavlov's dog, your body should be conditioned to respond appropriately to the stimulus of the alarm clock. But the snooze button is a mixed message. It's not only screwing up how your body is trained to react, going back to sleep isn't doing you any good. You don't reach a state of restorative sleep and instead of starting the process of waking up, your body is beginning the process of falling back asleep, which is counterproductive for your day and can result in sleep inertia.

If you stick with just waking up without the snooze button, eventually the struggle lessens and your body starts to react to the alarm the way you want it to. If that's a struggle to start, try these tips for breaking your snooze button addiction. Or maybe you need an alarm clock that wakes you with an orgasm. Your choice.

h/t Independent

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Dustin Nelson is a News Writer with Thrillist. He holds a Guinness World Record, but has never met the fingernail lady. He’s written for Sports Illustrated, Men’s Journal, The Rumpus, and other digital wonderlands. Follow him @dlukenelson.



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