Is Hitting the Snooze Button Healthy?

Tara Youngblood Oct 13, 2022

Is hitting the snooze button bad for you?

If you could see yourself hitting the snooze button in the morning, it would probably look more like a science fiction movie with your arm emerging from underneath the covers, flailing around searching for the alarm clock.

Once you locate it, you smack the snooze button for just 10 more minutes of slumber – and 10 minutes later – you crave more sleep, recreating the scene from an alien film.

In this article, we'll cover the following:

Snoozing

Though most people hit the snooze only once, with over 35% of women and 43% of men never needing their alarm after it first buzzes or chimes or plays a popular song, nearly 12% of women and 7% of men hit the snooze button three times. [1]

Nearly 8% of baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, reset their alarm for extra sleep over three times, more than other generations. [2]

Should you feel guilty for wanting your beauty sleep? You stay up watching a ballgame or hang out late with friends and family. You cram for that test past midnight or prepare for the next workday.

Mornings come quickly, and alarm clocks go off sooner than expected.

Is Hitting the Snooze More Than Once Bad?

What we’ve found is that repetitive waking and then dropping back asleep disrupts proper functioning during the daytime hours. Furthermore, it can be harmful to your overall health.

Let’s talk about why this is and the actionable steps you can take to get the restful and restorative sleep you need.

57% of people regularly hit the snooze button, while on average, the snooze button gets hit twice before finally getting up.

Why the Urge to Hit the Snooze?

Getting out of bed when you’re not ready can be quite a drag, especially when you have consistently been shorting yourself on sleep. In one study, over half of the participants admitted to using the snooze button multiple times to get out of bed. [2]

When you first wake, you have sleep inertia to thank for this yearning to snatch that few extra minutes. During this state, you are not really thinking clearly. Alertness, problem-solving, and other cognitive abilities are impaired.

You tend to act on impulse rather than thinking logically. Generally, sleep inertia lasts about 30 minutes, although it varies widely depending on the person. [3,4]

Read More: What is Deep Sleep?

Is Snoozing Bad for You?

Occasional use of the snooze button is probably OK. But if you overdo it, it can be extremely problematic for good sleep habits and overall sleep health.

Fragmented Sleep

When you use the snooze button, you become ripe targets for sleep fragmentation.

The body and brain are inherently designed to progress systematically through 4 stages of sleep. Stages 1-3 are known as Non-Rapid Eye Movement (N-REM). Stage 4 is called Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. One round of stages 1-4 lasts (on average) about 90 minutes. [5]

In most cases, when the alarm goes off in the morning, you are transitioning out of REM or light sleep. After you press snooze, you might dive right back into REM, with the alarm jolting you awake a mere nine minutes later.

There’s just not enough time to get back into those normal stages of restorative sleep. [6] This can keep you in that zombie-like state of grogginess even longer and doesn’t really help us out in overall sleep health. [7]

Additional Resource: Want to learn more about the human REM and Non-REM sleep cycles? Check out our in-depth article on Different Types of Sleep Stages.

How Does Snoozing Impact Your Health?

The progression from one sleep stage to the next is guided by a complex series of hormonal, neurochemical, and brain wave pattern changes.

Our bodies and brains respond by promoting the following:

Impact on Your Health

  • Muscle and Bone Growth

  • Relaxation and Stress Relief

  • Memory Consolidation

  • Immune System Function

So, in order to get the required amount of sleep that’s restful and restorative, you need to cycle through between 4 and 6 sleep cycles per night. [8,9]

Dr. Chris Winter, Men’s Health sleep advisor and author of, The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How to Fix It, advises that repeated slamming of the snooze button causes a number of negative health impacts. [10]

Jumbled Hormones

A perilous domino effect occurs when melatonin (sleep hormone) decreases as cortisol (a wake hormone) is ramped up. As you snooze, these hormones go up and down, causing confusion regarding what’s really supposed to be happening.

Other chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine get similarly entangled in the misinformation. This includes dysregulation of an appetite hormone called ghrelin, which messes up your hunger cues.

Sleep Drunkenness

This happens when cognitive processes aren’t quite put into full gear. People get disoriented more easily and have trouble making logical decisions. Dr. Winter emphasizes that it's similar to actually being drunk.

Missing the Morning Bathroom Break

Sleep and digestion work together. When you first wake, the process of peristalsis (wave-like contractions) moves food along through the digestive system. Bouncing between wakefulness and sleep throws off the whole system, increasing the potential for constipation and bloating.

Research has also documented a sudden and repeated rise and fall in heart rate. [11] Sleep expert Dr. Neil Stanley put it quite well when he said that it “scares the wits out of you and your heart rate shoots up…your stress hormones rocket.”[para. 4] [12]

How to stop hitting snooze button

How to Stop Snoozing

It’s time to take control of that button. So, what do you do to overcome that morning struggle with your snooze button? All it takes is learning about your own individual sleep needs, shoring up your sleep hygiene habits, and gaining knowledge of the science of sleep.

Another key factor in making sleep a health priority is getting help from your support system, such as friends and family, healthcare providers, and sleep specialists.

Actions You Can Take to Stop Hitting Snooze

  1. Give yourself a compelling reason to stop hitting the snooze button.
  2. Learn about what happens to your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing status while you sleep. It will help you understand your sleep needs.
  3. Sit up or turn on a light when your alarm first goes off. [13]
  4. Set the alarm for a realistic time that takes into consideration the need for 7-8 hours of sleep. [14]
  5. Take a look at your sleeping environment in terms of lighting, temperature, and noise levels.
  6. Make it difficult to hit snooze.
  7. Reward yourself for not hitting the snooze button.

Be Kind to Your Body (and Mind) and It Will Reward You

Remember that occasionally hitting the snooze isn’t automatically bad. Just like any other tool or piece of equipment, it’s simply important to use it wisely.

The best thing you can do for yourself and your family is make sleep a priority. And waking up feeling refreshed. Research has shown definitively that those who get high-quality sleep reap unending benefits in physical, medical, cognitive, and mental health. Besides, it’s more fun to go through life awake!

Citations / Resources

[1] Sound the Alarm: The Tones and Trends of Waking Up - Sleep Junkie. (2017, February 27). View Resource

[2] Ibid.

[3] Mattingly, S.M., Martinez, G., Young, J., Cain, M.K., Striegel, A. (2022). Snoozing: an examination of a common method of waking. Sleep, 1-13. View Study

[4] Hilditch, C. J., & McHill, A. W. (2019). Sleep inertia: current insights. Nature and science of sleep, 11, 155–165. View Study

[5] McCallum, K. (2021, December 15). Does hitting the snooze button help or hurt? Houston Methodist. View Resource

[6] Cleveland Clinic. (2021, December 3). Sleep: How much you need and its 4 stages. View Resource

[7] Net, S. (2022, August 29). How to sleep: Hitting button could have negative health affects, warns study. View Resource

[8] Rosman, K. D. (2018). The power of restful sleep and how to get some. Mental Health Matters. View Resource

[9] Cleveland Clinic. (2021, December 3). Sleep: How much you need and its 4 stages. View Resource

[10] Millard, E. (2018, January 11). 5 ways hitting the snooze button is wrecking your body. Men’s Health. View Resource

[11] Ibid.

[12] Mattingly, S.M., Martinez, G., Young, J., Cain, M.K., Striegel, A. (2022). Snoozing: an examination of a common method of waking. Sleep, 1-13. View Study

[13] Net, S. (2022, August 29). How to sleep: Hitting button could have negative health affects, warns study. View Resource

[14] McCallum, K. (2021, December 15). Does hitting the snooze button help or hurt? Houston Methodist. View Resource

[15] Ibid.

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