If You Habitually Hit The Snooze Button On Your Alarm, New Research Says You May Be Mentally Sharper For It

Fortune Well October 19, 2023


If You Habitually Hit The Snooze Button On Your Alarm, New Research Says You May Be Mentally Sharper For It

Are you a fan of hitting the snooze button in the morning, or setting multiple alarms and sleeping until the very last one? 

It seems like an inefficient use of time—but it may not be, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of Sleep Research

Among 31 habitual snoozers, researchers found that 30 minutes of snoozing did not affect performance on a cognitive test taken immediately after waking—or actually improved it—compared to performance on the same test immediately after waking on a no-snooze day.

While snoozing resulted in about six minutes of lost sleep, it prevented awakening from slow-wave sleep, a deep state that’s hard to shake off quickly. And there were no apparent effects on stress hormone levels, morning sleepiness, mood, or overnight sleep patterns, researchers wrote.

“The findings indicate that there is no reason to stop snoozing in the morning if you enjoy it—at least not for snooze times around 30 minutes,” said lead author Tina Sundelin, an assistant professor of psychology at Stockholm University in Sweden, in a news release about the study. “In fact, it may even help those with morning drowsiness to be slightly more awake once they get up.”

Snoozers are in good company

If you’re among those who repeatedly hit the snooze button, no shame—you’re in good company. When researchers queried roughly 1,700 adults on their sleep and wake habits, nearly 70% said they used the snooze function or set multiple alarms at least sometimes. Those who did got an average of 22 more minutes of sleep per morning, on average, though extra sleep time ranged from one measly minute to a whopping 180 minutes.

Those who snoozed had the following attributes, when compared to non-snoozers, according to the study:

  • Tended to be younger than non-snoozers
  • More likely to be night owls
  • Generally slept less than non-snoozers
What if you wake up before your alarm?

For those wondering if they should head back to bed or get an early start on the day when they wake up before their alarm, the answer comes in shades of gray.

The best answer depends on a few factors, experts tell Fortune, but generally leans toward heading back to bed. That’s because sleep has restorative properties and impacts multiple body systems.

The first question to ask yourself: whether or not you’ve gotten the recommended seven to nine hours of shut-eye. That’s according to Joachim Behar, a sleep researcher and the head of the Artificial Intelligence in Medicine Laboratory at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel.

Most experts recommend seven to nine hours of sleep for adults. If you haven’t deposited enough time in your sleep bank for the night, Behar suggests heading back to bed—with one exception. If your alarm is set to wake you in 90 minutes or less, stay up, he advises. A complete sleep cycle takes around 90 minutes, and interrupting one can lead to sleep inertia. 

That’s “the grogginess and difficulty concentrating that many people feel after waking up,” Dr. Raj Dasgupta, chief medical advisor of Sleepopolis, previously told Fortune.

Waking up early isn’t always a bad thing, Dasgupta maintains. If you’re finding yourself staring at the ceiling 30 minutes or less before your alarm, “it’s a good sign that your sleep schedule is aligned with your circadian rhythm,” he says.

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