The snooze button seems like the greatest invention when you need a few minutes of extra sleep in the mornings. However, how many times do you wake up after hitting the snooze button feeling groggier than before and continue your mornings feeling fatigued? That snooze button isn't as helpful as you think. It's actually bad for your alertness and wakefulness during the day, and it's bad for your sleep schedule, too.
On days when you don't have to set an alarm, your body wakes you up naturally using its own biological clock. Your body has natural processes it uses to wake up and prepare for activity as well as put you to sleep. An hour before you naturally wake up, your body temperature rises from its cooler sleeping temperature. At this time, your body also moves from the deep stages of sleep, REM, to lighter sleep, and cortisol and dopamine hormones are released to provide energy for your body. Alarms usually cut these natural body rhythms short because your body isn't quite ready to wake up. This has you reaching for the snooze button!
If you're addicted to hitting the snooze button, you're not alone! Many people set their alarm clocks earlier than they need to wake up just to enjoy the false comfort of more sleep provided by the snooze button. But interrupting your body's sleep cycle and stages of sleep affects your alertness in the morning and triggers sleep inertia, the groggy state of transition from sleep to wakefulness. Sleep inertia can last a few minutes or a few hours depending on which sleep stage your body is waking from.
As you fall back asleep after hitting the snooze button, your body may fall back into deeper sleep cycles. The next time the alarm rings, your body once again is disturbed from its sleep cycle and the grogginess persists. It's a vicious cycle. You are usually better off setting your original alarm later and, for most of us, going to bed earlier. Fragmented sleep is much less restorative than uninterrupted sleep. Even if you sleep well throughout the night, but spend the last 30 minutes in bed pounding the snooze button, your body will feel sleepier and less alert during the day.
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Feeling tired is not only a product of sleep deprivation and waking up from a deep sleep before the cycle is complete, but feelings of tiredness also result from not having a regular sleep schedule. Going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning, even on the weekends, helps your body restore itself and leaves you feeling more awake and alert during the day. Though it sounds difficult and may take some time for your body to adapt, keeping a regular sleep schedule is the best, most effective way to feel awake and energized during the day. Even if you wake up feeling a little tired in the morning, try to resist the urge to hit the snooze button and fall back into the dangerous snooze cycle!
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