You don’t want to be late on your first day back at work after the Christmas festivities, so you set your alarm the night before, leaving plenty of time to get ready for the day ahead. As morning breaks, your alarm goes off and… you press the snooze button.
Five minutes later, the alarm goes off once more. And again every five minutes until finally you get up, rushing around the house to ensure you leave on time and cursing your decision to prioritise a few minutes’ extra sleep over a calm start to your day.
This routine is incredibly common, with one in three adults hitting snooze three times before getting up and 50% of adults in their twenties and early thirties taking the snooze option every morning. But did you know that regularly pressing snooze could actually make you more tired?
Although you could be forgiven for assuming that more sleep will reduce your tiredness, studies have shown that overuse of the snooze button can have a major negative impact on your sleep cycle, making you feel less rested.
Your sleep cycle has two distinct stages: REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM. The REM stage is where your body rests properly, re-energising from the previous day and preparing you for the next. These periods of deep sleep usually begin about 90 minutes after you first fall asleep, continuing in roughly hour-long cycles throughout the night.
You’re usually coming towards the end of an REM cycle when your alarm goes off in the morning, making it a good time to get up and begin your day. However, if you hit the snooze button and go back to sleep, you begin a new REM cycle – only to be quickly woken from it, throwing your body out of sync and leaving you feeling dazed and lethargic.
While your instinct may be to grab an extra five minutes, you’re actually likely to feel much more refreshed if you force yourself out of bed when you first wake up – and there are plenty of other ways to stop snoozing and make your morning routine more efficient.
While we’ve established that excessive snoozing is inadvisable, your path to a better morning routine actually starts before you wake up. Studies have shown that an alarm that wakes you gradually is more beneficial than the traditional alarm bells which wake you with a start, potentially raising your stress levels – a far from ideal start to the day. You may even consider a sunrise clock, which simulates sunrise as a more natural, relaxing alternative to an alarm.
Another tip is to set your alarm early enough that you can get up gradually. If you have to get up the moment your alarm goes off, you’re starting the day in an anxious state – setting aside ten minutes or so to ease yourself into consciousness is likely to leave you feeling calm and relaxed, providing a solid platform to begin the day.
If you want to get better at getting up in the morning, you may want to amend your diet. Coffee is a handy pick-me-up, but too much can leave you feeling on edge, while alcohol and unhealthy food the night before may lead to tiredness the next morning.
Additionally, anything that will improve your sleep is likely to be beneficial the next morning, whether it’s ensuring you have a comfortable bed or maintaining a regular sleep pattern. Experts also say that you should avoid blue light technology such as phones, computers and TVs for two hours before you go to bed.
Waking up can be tough for some and easy for others – and there are a number of reasons why you might have a different wake-up routine to those around you. If you find getting up hard, try some of the tips from our wellness blogs about getting better sleep.