Mythbusters: Is hitting snooze really that bad for you?



There are two types of people in the world: those who just wake up feeling instantly refreshed and those who hit the snooze button in the mornings and dread getting out of bed.

Snoozing in gets a bad reputation – ever heard of “you snooze, you lose”? – and there’s a general myth that hitting the snooze button is unhealthy. Some experts argue that alarms spark an artificial fight-or-flight response, causing blood pressure to spike, the heart rate to accelerate and the body to release cortisol, the stress hormone. Repeatedly going through such shock, again and again, is what makes it dangerous, they say.

But it actually depends on how you use it.

“It’s very individualized,” says professor Kneginja Richter, who specializes in sleep at a clinic in southern Germany. “If you just do it once or twice and then can smoothly start your day, it’s definitely not a problem,” Richter told Deutsche Presse Agentur (dpa).

“Actually, it can even be good in that you wake up not feeling stressed.”

The best use of that precious time between the next alarm bell is to slowly wake up and start thinking about what the day will bring, for example, according to the expert.

The snooze button becomes more of a problem when someone is so tired that they fall right back asleep. “Anyone who hits snooze over and over, and thus keeps yanking themselves in and out of slumber, is doing themselves no favors,” explains Richter.

The optimal snoozing time is also still up for debate. Sleep fragmentation studies have shown that 20 minutes may be the perfect interval for rest without going into a deep sleep, while some sleep experts suggest keeping it under 10 minutes.

Such behavior, though, begs for a little self-reflection: Why do you keep doing this? “If someone wakes up rested on their own in the morning anyway, they won’t consider snoozing so long,” she says.

To make sure you’re getting enough sleep, you should first figure out what kind of sleeper you are and then structure your daily life around that schedule. About 70% to 80% of people sleep between 11:30 p.m. and 7 a.m. The other 20%-30% are part of the night owls club – people who prefer to stay awake late into the night and then sleep in during the day.

Younger people and men tend toward being night owls while older people and women are more likely the opposite – morning larks.

One way to wean yourself off your snooze button is to not place your alarm clock or cellphone right next to your bed. Then, in order to switch off the alarm, you’ll have to get out of bed.



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