In 2014, it was estimated that 76% of Americans woke up to the sound of a blaring alarm clock, smartphone or electronic device. An average night’s sleep was measured at 6 hours and 48 minutes and 57% reported feeling tired upon awakening. Interestingly, the same percentage of people reported that they hit the snooze button at least once before getting up. By doing this are you really buying extra minutes of precious sleep or are you hurting yourself and your sleep in the long run?
We experience several cycles of sleep nightly. There are 4 stages of varying length within each cycle. Stage 1 is the lightest with stage 4 being the deepest, most restorative stage we experience. Each cycle or group of stages lengthen as the night progresses. As you can imagine, it is much easier to be awakened during stage 1 or 2 than during stage 4. This is the premise surrounding the newer alarm systems that can sense activity, breathing and heart rate levels and awaken you during the lighter stages of sleep.
So what is wrong with grabbing a few extra minutes of precious sleep by hitting snooze? Our brain basically doesn’t care for false alarms. Each time you hit the snooze, you are telling your brain WAKE UP, no go back to sleep. By doing this, you begin a new sleep cycle over again that you will not have time to finish. This fragmented extra sleep, starting a sleep cycle and not finishing it, can cause us to experience persistent grogginess during the day. This results in poor decision-making skills, memory issues, decreased overall performance and disruption of our natural circadian rhythm.
Having to hit the snooze button usually is a symptom of a bigger problem. You probably are not getting an adequate amount of sleep. Chronic sleep deprivation, getting 6 hours or less of sleep per night, increases your chance of being overweight, developing diabetes or cardiovascular disease and poor health overall. So what can you do?
Just as you take the time to choose the right food and schedule your exercise, take the time to work on getting better sleep. Our body needs sleep to adequately rest and recover from the daily grind. Sleep is healing and allows the body to reset itself. Take better care of your body and it will take care of you. Don’t hit the snooze!