We’ve all been there.
It’s 6.30 am on a Monday morning. Suddenly, your peaceful dreams are shattered by the pealing sound of your alarm and you arrive at the stark realization that it’s time to get up and go to work.
But… 10 minutes of extra sleepy time can’t hurt, right? You hit that ever-appealing snooze button and drift back into dreamland before repeating the same 10-minute routine for the next 30 minutes. At 7am, it really is time to get up — but now you feel groggier than ever.
Sleep scientists have been warning about the negative effects of using the snooze button on our alarm clocks for years, but the issue has only been getting the attention it deserves very recently.
Here’s the situation: every time you wake up, hit the snooze button and fall back to sleep, you’re resetting your sleep cycle to begin again.
Sleep cycles last for around 90 minutes and take you through 5 stages which ensure that your brain and body gets the rest it needs for optimal performance.
When you interrupt your sleep cycle by hitting the snooze button, your body is confused: it hasn’t completed its cycle so it stays in a state of sleep inertia, which slows your brain and body down and makes you feel groggy and not completely awake yet.
Sleep inertia can last between 2 to 4 hours — that’s a big chunk of your day that you’re giving over to low performance and feeling less than 100%.
What to Do Instead of Hitting Snooze
Level 1: Just. Get. Up.
Most people set their alarm for the next morning the night before they go to sleep.
If you normally set the timer to go off, say, 15 minutes before you know you absolutely have to get up, stop what you’re doing. Instead, set the alarm for the actual time that you absolutely have to get up.
This means that you’ll have no choice but to get up when your alarm goes off as there’s simply no time to snooze.
Getting up with your first alarm means that you’ll feel refreshed and ready to take on the day, instead of having to deal with a load of sleep cycle false starts and sleep inertia.
Bonus Level: No Alarm
If you’re feeling more confident about your mind’s ability to listen to your internal body clock, why not forgoe the alarm altogether?
Instead of waking up by your alarm at who knows what point in your sleep cycle, you’ll find yourself naturally waking at the end of the cycle.
Not only will this mean that you’ll be at low risk of sleep inertia, but also that you’ll be giving your body all the sleep it needs. Huge numbers of people across the world aren’t getting the level of sleep that they need to nourish their mind and body. When you get rid of the alarm altogether, you allow yourself to finally get the sleep you need.
Level 2: Alarm Hacking
Of course, while having no alarm is great, most people who have tightly scheduled days require an alarm to get them started on the right track at the right time.
But instead of simply just getting up when your alarm first sounds, you can hack your sleep schedule to ensure that your alarm is going off at the end of a sleep cycle, instead of in the middle of one. This should guarantee that you wake at your allotted wake-up time feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to start the day.
The way to do this is to use an online sleep calculator. You’ll need to input what time you want to get up in the morning, and the sleep calculator will work out what time you should aim to fall asleep in order to guarantee you hit towards the end of a cycle when you wake.
For instance, the sleepyti.me calculator tells us that if we want to wake at 6.30am, we should aim to fall asleep at 9.30pm, 11pm, 12.30 am or 2am, depending on how many hours we require.
You should ensure that you plan to be in bed beforehand, depending on how long it usually takes you to fall asleep.
Do you ever hit the snooze button?