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I'm a Doctor and Warn You Never Press This Button on Your Phone

Don’t press that button!
Woman texting on smartphone

Your sleep schedule, morning routine, and the way you wake up sets the tone for your entire day. Your circadian rhythm, also known as your body's internal clock, is responsible for the quality and quantity of sleep you get. It's also extremely sensitive to changes in your routine or restfulness as you wake. That's why the unhealthiest thing you can do, long-term, is hitting the snooze button on your alarm in the morning—it can negatively impact your circadian rhythm and throw off your entire day. "An irregular circadian rhythm can have a negative effect on a person's ability to sleep and function properly," according to Harvard Health. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Signs Your Illness is Actually Coronavirus in Disguise.

You Snooze, You Lose

"No matter how bad your sleep was on a particular night, you must still get up at the same time every morning," Deirdre McSwiney, sleep technician and cognitive behavior therapist for Insomnia, told The Hard Shoulder. "This business of lying in or having the luxury of pushing that snooze button—which I think was the worst invention ever—is not good for you."

Most alarm clocks or smartphones default snoozing time to nine minutes. It isn't clear why early alarm clock manufacturers chose this as the perfect snooze increment, but it's remained the standard to this day. Wasting an extra nine minutes on a snooze may not seem harmless but it can have detrimental effects on the quality of your sleep.

To wake up efficiently and "on the right side of the bed," you must get up at the end of your REM cycle, according to Amerisleep. REM stands for rapid eye movement and it's what occurs when you're in a deep sleep. Your body is restoring but your brain is actively awake, so it's important that you only wake up at the end of the cycle to feel adequately rested.

When you smack the snooze button, you give yourself about nine minutes to fall back into a REM cycle. "One of the most critical factors is the sleep stage prior to awakening," according to a study published in Sleep Medicine Reviews. When your snooze alarm goes off, it's possible that you'll be right in the middle of that REM cycle. This means you won't get any sound or restorative sleep during your snooze period. 

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Here's What the Doctor Says

To ensure you're waking up at a good point in your REM cycle, say goodbye to your snooze button. "Facing into morning light is what gives that deep trigger into the brain that your sleep-wake cycle is pivoting correctly," says McSwiney. If popping out of bed when the alarm sounds seems impossible, it's time to reevaluate your sleeping habits. 

If you rely heavily on a few snooze cycles every morning, it may mean you're suffering from a sleep disorder or simply not getting enough high-quality sleep. "Make sure you're getting seven to eight hours of sufficient sleep and good quality sleep," says Dr. Reena Mehra, M.D., M.S. from the Cleveland Clinic.

"Much of the latter part of our sleep cycle is comprised of REM sleep, or dream sleep, which is a restorative sleep state," Dr. Mehra explains. "And so, if you're hitting the snooze button, then you're disrupting that REM sleep."

If you know you're clocking in at seven to eight hours of good sleep but you're still addicted to the snooze button, Dr. Mehra suggests seeing a physician to evaluate your health. You may have an underlying sleep disorder that needs to be addressed.

Dedicate the time and discipline to avoiding the snooze and eventually, you'll pop out of bed when the alarm sounds. While it's a tough habit to break, once you stop relying on those extra nine minutes, you may find yourself feeling more refreshed and in a better mood after waking up. Getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night also strengthens your immune system—and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Kelly Hernandez
Kelly Hernandez is a health and wellness writer and certified personal trainer. Read more
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