When you’re enjoying a delightful sleep that’s interrupted by the irritating screeching of an alarm, it’s not fun. However, some of us repeat this process two, three, or even four times each morning.
We hit the snooze button because really, Really I don’t want to get out of bed, but what exactly happens to your body when it wakes up like this, only to fall back asleep and repeat the process?
Dr. Kat Lederle, a sleep therapist and circadian rhythm specialist at Somnia, says that hitting the snooze button makes waking up more difficult. We feel groggy, perhaps more than the first awakening.
“That groggy feeling can linger and color our daytime experience in a negative way,” she says. “When we hit the snooze button, it will start to confuse the biological clock because, one way or another, that biological clock can anticipate that usually the alarm goes off at 6:30, for example, and it will prepare the body for that. somehow for 6:30, but when you decide to take a nap, the clock and the body are a bit confused because they have everything ready, like cortisol, to be released into the bloodstream. And that again can lead to or contribute to the lightheadedness we feel when we finally get up.”
What if you’re a habitual sleeper and always factor in an extra 20 minutes or so of snooze time? What kind of impact does that have?
“This will reduce the quality of that sleep,” adds Lederle, “because you won’t get a good night’s sleep again, so you’ll stay in a lighter stage of sleep. So if you intend to go to sleep, instead of hitting the snooze button and making your body work hard to go back to sleep, I’d say just have that extra half hour.”
But to make sure you don’t fall back asleep, she says, move your alarm clock farther away or do something like open the blinds or curtains. This light exposure should wake you up.
“The biological clock is a configured area in your brain. It is about 50,000 cells and adjusts to the rhythm of everything that happens in our body, including sleep and wakefulness. This biological clock needs a daily reset and that is done through exposure to morning light,” he explains.
“Now, even when your eyes are closed, you can still perceive light, so by opening the curtains, at least the body clock will know that it’s light outside and the brain can continue with its data and processes.”
If you start your day sleeping, it can not only leave you lethargic for the rest of the day, but it can also affect the quality of your sleep the following night.
“It’s like if you hear noise during the night, you might wake up, which is the worst case scenario, but even if you don’t wake up, the brain will register it and there will be what we call a ‘mini-arousal.’ which interrupts the continuity of your sleep”, explains Lederle.
“And one thing that is just as important, perhaps more so than sleep duration, is the continuity and quality of your sleep. Repeated alarms interrupt the continuity and therefore the quality of your sleep, meaning you feel less rested the next day. And you’ll get tired a lot quicker that way, so you might look to stimulants like caffeine and the like to fix the problem temporarily.”
And we all know the problem of drinking too much caffeine in the body.
So if you’re a seasoned sleeper, try placing your phone further away and maybe open the curtains, instead of dancing on the snooze button all morning.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.