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Just five more minutes, you think as you push the snooze button.
The next thing you know, the alarm is blaring again, and you aren’t sure what happened.
You think you’re dreaming because you sure don’t feel awake. Then you realize you aren’t asleep.
Actually, you aren’t sure what’s going on.
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We’ve all done it. Hit the snooze button more than once. We think it’s no big deal. It’s just a little extra sleep.
But, that little bit of extra sleep can do a lot of damage during the day.
That’s not all:
Over time, all that damage can add it up. It can decrease your productivity, and even make it harder for you to sleep at night.
It’s a vicious cycle that feeds itself.
Hit the snooze button. Wake up sluggish.
It gets better, though:
You can break the snooze button habit to have happier, more productive days.
Why Hitting the Snooze Button is Bad
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Hitting the snooze button is a guilty habit you need to break. And the reasons to quit are based on the science of sleep.
9 Minutes Isn’t Enough Time to Rest
When you hit the snooze button, you already know what’s going to happen: you get nine more minutes of sleep.
Unfortunately, nine minutes isn’t enough time to sleep.
What we found
No REM sleep when you hit the snooze button
You’ve probably heard of REM sleep. That’s the sleep where you’re dreaming.
There’s also non-REM sleep. That’s when you’re sleeping, but not dreaming.
When you first fall asleep, you’re in non-REM sleep. That’s the period when you’re relaxed and kind of sleeping, but not yet dreaming.
It’s a light sleep. If someone were to wake you, you probably wouldn’t even realize you had been asleep.
Why We Hit the Snooze Button
A 2014 survey found that 57 percent of all Americans hit the snooze button regularly. The same study found that almost 58 percent of Americans stay in bed for at least five minutes after the alarm goes off.
No? Just me?
OK, moving on.
Throughout the night you’ll go back and forth between REM and non-REM sleep. That’s normal. In fact, you’ll probably go back and forth about four times during the night.
However, once you wake up, you’ve broken the cycle.
Whether that’s to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night or because the alarm clock sounded, your REM sleep is over.
When you go to the bathroom, it’s not a big deal to break the cycle. You’ve got plenty of time to fall back asleep, go through non-REM sleep and then into REM sleep.
But, if you hit the snooze button, turn over and start sleeping again, you can’t complete a sleep cycle.
What’s the big deal, you ask?
Sleep inertia is that tired, groggy, not-quite-awake feeling you get when you finally drag yourself out of bed.
It doesn’t matter if it’s after the first snooze or the seventh. If you fell back asleep during the nine-minute snooze cycle, you’re probably going to experience sleep inertia.
Even though you’re up and at ‘em, you’re slower than usual.
Maybe you’re even cranky.
You might attribute this to needing coffee, but sleep inertia is more than just needing that morning jolt of java to get going.
In some respects, sleep inertia isn’t that big of a deal.
One study found that when you experience sleep inertia, your brain still works, but you’re a little slower to react.
In many cases, sleep inertia only lasts about 30 minutes, though in some cases it can last up to four hours.
However, in other respects, sleep inertia is a big deal.
Here’s what we found:
It’s kind of like being drunk
A study by the University of Colorado found that when you’re still bleary and groggy in the morning, your brain only functions at 67 percent of its normal capacity.
Probably not a big deal since most of us aren’t working on our taxes that early in the morning.
It turns out that that reduction of capacity is the same as having a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent.
While this isn’t a big deal if it goes away after 30 minutes, it can be a big deal if it doesn’t go away after a few hours. And you have to drive to work.
Many drowsy driving accidents happen early in the morning because the driver is still suffering from sleep inertia.
Clean Up Your Sleep Routine
Since day drunk is not a good look, you’ve got to clean up your sleep routine.
I know, it sounds like something mom would make you do, but maybe mom was on to something.
You might remember that when you were a kid, there was a specific sequence of events that happened before it was time for bed.
Image via: Pixabay
It might have been something like a snack, a bath, brush your teeth, read a story, then turn off the lights.
That sequence never changed. Why?
Because the routine signaled to your brain that it was time to settle down and get into sleep mode.
As an adult, if you keep a bedtime routine, you can train your brain to know it’s time to slow down and go to sleep.
Doing this helps you relax and fall asleep quickly, making it less tempting to smash the snooze button in the morning.
Here’s what you need to know:
Improve your sleep hygiene
Sleep hygiene is all the things we do that make it harder (or easier) to sleep. It’s also about setting up the right environment to make sure we get those zzz’s.
But that’s not all:
Interestingly, sleep hygiene isn’t just the things we need to do when we go to sleep at night. There are things we do all day every day that can interfere when we try to sleep at night.
Image via: Study Breaks
It may be tempting to nap away on a lazy Sunday afternoon. However, doing this will wreak havoc when you try to sleep at night.
Wait, you’re probably saying.
“I heard that taking a 20 to 30-minute nap is good!”
That’s true, but here are the facts:
To make napping work, you have to limit your nap to 20 to 30 minutes. Anything longer and you’ll probably suffer from sleep inertia.
That could make it harder for you to fall asleep at night because your body isn’t tired anymore.
While there are benefits to daytime naps (like feeling more alert), while you’re trying to break the snooze button habit, avoid napping.
Stop with all of the caffeine
Even half a cup could mess you up.
Here is the recommendation:
Not only should you not enjoy some after dinner java (even decaf!), you should try to avoid it at least six hours before bed.
For most of us, that means nothing after three o’clock in the afternoon.
No more nightcaps
A nightcap sounds like a great idea, especially if you’ve given up your after dinner coffee.
Unfortunately, alcohol can be just as bad.
Sorry. Here’s why:
While alcohol can help you fall asleep faster, your body will start processing the alcohol during the second half of your sleep cycle, interrupting it.
That makes it harder for you to keep snoozing.
Time to start exercising
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You’re not getting out of it: Exercise is one of those things that’s going to help you sleep at night.
When you exercise is just as important as making sure that you exercise.
The old school advice was to exercise first thing in the morning. The thought was raising your heart rate and releasing all those endorphins made it harder for people to fall asleep if you exercised in the afternoon.
However, that’s not the case for everyone.
If the thought of hitting the gym with the early birds is too much to bear, you’re in luck.
For some people, a nighttime workout is just as effective as a morning one.
While the jury is still out, when you exercise in the afternoon, you’ll raise your body temperature a few hours before bedtime.
After that, your temperature drops (right around bedtime), signaling your brain it’s time to sleep. For some people, this temperature drop helps them fall asleep.
Either way, exercise is important for establishing and maintaining healthy sleep habits.
If nothing else, exercise can help you release stress and tires you out, making it a little easier to sleep at night.
Watch what you eat and when you eat it
You are what you eat and what you eat can affect how you sleep.
Here’s the bottom line:
Get enough natural light
Let the sunshine in!
Getting enough natural light during the day helps us fall asleep at night.
Interestingly, getting exposure to darkness at night helps us fall asleep.
I know. Duh.
Here’s the science:
You’ve probably heard of circadian rhythms. That’s what keeps us in sync with the 24 hours a day planet we live on. It’s our internal clock that helps us know when to rise and shine, and when to go to bed.
This can’t happen on its own.
While people will maintain their own natural, internal rhythms, they are helped along by external cues. Like sunlight and darkness. These things help keep your body in line with day and night.
Getting a daily dose of sunshine helps keeps our circadian rhythm in check and helps us stay on “time.” Of course, daily exposure to sunlight may not always be possible.
Make sure you sleep in comfort
Image via: thefunnybeaver
Evaluate your current sleeping arrangement.
Start with your mattress.
Is it comfy? Does it support you?
These things matter:
Waking up sore or tried may be caused by an old mattress. Or proof that you’re sleeping on the wrong one.
Also, is the room dark enough? Quiet enough?
All these things can contribute to poor sleep.
Even if you aren’t pressing the snooze button, but you’re still waking up tired, you may have a poor sleeping environment that’s contributing to the problem.
No devices before bed
I know you know (and I’m just as guilty), but, put the phone down!
First, it’s kind of similar to natural light and having so much bright light so close to bedtime messes up our brains. When we stimulate our brains with blue light so close to bed, we disrupt our circadian rhythms, and our brains think it’s time to wake up and play.
Sure, you can use special glasses or the “night mode” settings on your device. But, that may not be enough.
That’s not all:
It can be tempting to play games, read something interesting, or engage in some “lively debate” on social media.
Although, there’s nothing wrong with these activities — they also engage your brain.
By that I mean, pleasant political discussions on social media wake up your brain and get it moving and grooving. Which makes it harder to fall asleep.
So, put the devices down at least two hours before bed to ensure your brain stays relaxed and ready to sleep.
Watch the following video to learn more:
It’s not for everyone, but for some, meditating before bed can be a great way to empty the mind, get rid of anxieties, and fall asleep quickly.
Use a guided meditation app to help you get started, like Headspace.
These can help teach you what to do and how to do it. Don’t get discouraged. Learning meditation can take time and a lot of practice.
Start with one minute and work your way up from there. Because one minute may be all you need to settle your mind.
Image via: Quick Meme
If meditating isn’t for you, try a “worry journal.”
Here’s what that means:
One of the reasons we stay up late is there’s nothing to distract our brains. We’re in a dark, quiet room. We’re comfy, and there’s nothing to distract us.
So, we start thinking of everything that’s bothering us.
Instead of waiting for the worry monster to come for you, write down all those nagging anxieties. Jot them down and forget about them.
Or, at least put them someplace where you can deal with them after a good night’s sleep.
How can I make myself get out of bed more quickly?
Before we start our discussion regarding how to make yourself out of bed early, the first and foremost thing you have to stop telling yourself is that you are not a morning person.
Leave The Snooze Button Alone!
You’ve quit caffeine, exercised in the sunlight, and mastered meditation. But, you still can’t give up the snooze button.
There are still a few more tricks you can try to quit the snooze button habit.
Take a look:
Image via: Max Pixel
Who doesn’t love a fabulous prize?
Make not hitting the snooze button a game or a challenge and you might find yourself snooze-free.
Begin with the goal of not hitting the snooze button tomorrow.
If you do that, you get to have a donut with breakfast. Or, whatever reward works.
Then, up the ante.
If you don’t hit the snooze button for a week, you win the prize.
Then it has to be for a month.
Pretty soon it will be natural to get out of bed right away, and you won’t need the reward at all.
Make it hot, hot, hot, hot!
Assuming you have control of your thermostat (and it’s programmable), set the thermostat to start warming you up about one hour before the alarm goes off.
The reason for this is simple:
In the hour before you wake, your body temperature starts to rise.
Give that natural process a boost by making the room warm. This helps make it a little less jarring to wake-up.
Bonus: you won’t scream when your feet hit the cold floor.
Go to bed earlier
This one is obvious, but probably the hardest.
If you keep hitting the snooze button, you probably aren’t getting enough sleep.
Which means it’s time to face the facts: You need an earlier bedtime.
This is one you can’t do cold turkey, though.
While you might be able to fall asleep early sometimes (like after an all-nighter), on most nights, you just can’t. That’s because of our circadian rhythms.
We can’t just snap our fingers and change it.
But you can change it:
So, to get to an earlier bedtime, start moving your whole bedtime routine back by 15 minutes.
It will feel weird, and it will take some time to adjust (kind of like jet lag), but eventually, your body will get used to the earlier time.
When you find falling asleep at the earlier time works, move it back another 15 minutes.
Repeat as necessary until you no longer need the snooze button.
Find a reason to get up and get going
This is kind of like rewarding yourself, only different.
Instead of rewarding yourself for not hitting the snooze button, give yourself a reason to not hit the snooze button.
Want to be a writer?
Tell yourself you have to get up and write because it’s the only time you can.
Training for a marathon?
Make sure you’re up early to get your morning run in.
Whatever motivates you, make that the reason to get out of bed.
Amazing Facts About Dreams
No one doesn’t not dream, with the exception of people who suffer from extreme psychological disorders. Even if you think you don’t dream it’s just because you’ve forgotten your dreams.
Buy a programmable coffee maker
One study found that the smell of freshly brewed coffee helps wake the brain up. While some of this has to do with genetics, just the smell of the coffee stimulates the brain and helps it wake up a little faster.
So, the study was on rats, but my unscientific study of my own life tells me this is true.
And, if you want to try your own unscientific study, you can.
There’s an easy solution to mornings:
Buy a programmable coffee maker and set it to brew, so the smell hits you just as the alarm goes off.
Obviously, this works better if your bedroom is close to your kitchen. But, even if you have to walk a bit, try it and see what happens. Once that smell hits your brain, I bet you can’t go back to sleep.
Image via: San Francisco Bay Coffee
Let yourself be bad
We all know that it’s good to be bad. And hitting the snooze button is as bad as some of us get.
So do this instead:
Try letting yourself indulge in another bad habit (for a short time!) while you’re kicking the snooze button habit.
As long as it’s not something that gets in the way of good sleep hygiene (binge-watching, an extra beer), let yourself be bad for a while as a reward for being good.
Stick to a schedule
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Ever notice how you sleep in on weekends? Then, come Monday morning, no matter how much good sleep hygiene you practiced, you still hit the snooze button?
Yeah. Me, too.
Our brains love routine!
Monday through Friday, we wake up at the same time, go through the same “steps” to get ready for school or work, and follow the same bedtime routine every night.
However, on weekends, we may think “Eh, I don’t have to work tomorrow, so…” And you don’t follow the routine.
Our brains get confused.
It’s off the routine, and it ends up getting off schedule. Which is why you can’t wake up Monday morning.
I know it sucks but stick to the routine seven days a week.
Yes, that means weekends.
Once you’ve banished the snooze button, it will be easier on weekends to go off schedule. Until you’ve mastered it, stick to the schedule.
Use an app
I know. I said no devices.
But here’s the exception:
They can help you learn how to sleep better and help you wake up.
Let’s start with the wake-up part.
So, you just woke up, you’re laying in bed, and you’re tempted to hit the snooze button.
Grab your phone instead.
Even if you have it set to a night-mode, the light from the display is still bright enough to wake your brain.
Don’t just stare at it, play with it. I don’t mean, try to be productive and answer work emails.
Instead, check the weather, check social media, fun things like that. Something that forces you to engage your brain a little.
But not a lot.
But not a lot.
That will help wake it up and get you going.
Now, the sleeping part.
There are lots of apps out there that can help you analyze your sleep patterns and figure out what you might be doing wrong. Some apps out there use the accelerometer and microphone in your phone to track your sleep cycles, to help you figure out when you’re in REM and non-REM sleep.
A little bit of tracking might help you figure out how much sleep you need and what the best bedtime is.
Use light to your advantage
Image via: Quick Meme
Not only will natural light help you sleep at night, but it will also help you wake in the morning.
Try these tips:
Try sleeping with your curtains open. The natural light will help gently wake you. Once you get used to waking up this way, you may find that you have a happier, more productive day.
One small study found that people who wake up using morning sunlight, suffer from less sleep inertia. If they do experience sleep inertia, they recover from it more quickly.
Can’t sleep with the windows open? Or live somewhere where morning sun isn’t really a thing?
Get an alarm clock that simulates the sunrise.
The sunrise alarm clock by Phillips functions not only as an alarm clock, but you can use it for light-therapy if you need more sunlight in your day.
The clock starts a simulated sunrise 30 minutes before your alarm is set to go off. The lights start as a soft red and gradually transitions to white light.
Just like a real sunrise.
Use the bed only for sleeping
There are only certain things you should do in bed.
To make this easy, here are some things you shouldn’t do in bed:
There are others, but you get the idea.
Use your bed for sleep-type things and your brain will associate it with sleep.
Use it for non-sleep type things, and your brain will associate it with everything.
Image via : Pixabay
Place your alarm far, far away
This is a great trick:
Putting your alarm clock in another galaxy might be pushing it. But, you could try placing it across the room.
Or under the bed. This works better if you don’t have roommates (but do have understanding neighbors). It also requires you to have a loud enough alarm to hear it.
Once you’re physically up, you’re up. There’s no falling asleep after a leisurely morning stroll across the bedroom to turn off the alarm.
Get the right alarm clock
The right alarm clock will go a long way toward helping you get your butt out of bed. These are actual, real clocks that you put on your bedside table.
Totally worth it!
Here are some options:
The Nice Ones
There are a ton of alarm clocks out there:
Lots of them feature gentle sounds, or the ability to wake-up to a new sound every day.
Some have a snooze button that gets louder each time you press it. And, some have lights to help wake you up, gently.
Of course, you may want a less gentle approach. And that’s fine too. You’ve got to do whatever is right for you.
The Not Nice Ones
True story. When I was 12, the entire fire department came through my bedroom looking for a possible fire. I didn’t know what had happened until the next day.
If you’re like me and you sleep like the dead, consider an alarm clock that’s more like a burglar alarm. Or a bomb.
The Sonic Bomb Jr. has a 102-decibel alarm. That’s louder than an electric saw. If you can sleep through that, I’m impressed.
If you do, don’t worry, it’s got an attachment that will vibrate your bed (or pillow). And if you can sleep through that, well, I don’t know what to say.
Try the Screaming Meanie 220. It blares an alarm at 120 decibels. That’s as loud as a rock concert. Or a jet engine. I dare you to sleep through that!
For the truly desperate, try an alarm clock that runs away.
Clocky is an alarm clock on wheels. You get one pass at the snooze button and then:
The early bird gets the worm! Or, whatever works for you.
The point is, if you can break the snooze button habit, you’ll be a lot better off. If you can wake up without hitting the snooze button (or better, without any alarm), you’ll have a much more productive day.
Better sleep leads to better waking, which will lead to a happier, healthier you.