Photo: Yohann LIBOT on Unsplash
Let me be the first to say that I’m a little hypocritical. Sleeping in is awesome. Just this morning, I not only snoozed my alarm; I turned it off entirely and skipped my first class. So don’t get the idea, just because I’m writing this article that I have my life perfectly together. Chances are, I’m just like you.
I think we can all move towards better lifestyle habits, myself included. Healthy living starts from the moment that alarm goes off. Every morning, we face a choice. Do we get the day started the right way and get out of bed when we told ourselves we would the night before? Or do we succumb to temptation and abuse the snooze?
“Just...just ten more minutes. Maybe 20… or 30.”
For a lot of us, there can be some great repercussions from not hitting the snooze button. Hitting snooze doesn’t make you a lazy person; it can be a legitimate struggle to get up. But maybe it’s time to start considering if we’re living our best lives by laying around in bed longer than we probably should.
With that in mind, let’s look at five reasons to try turning off that alarm and getting up the first time.
Be better at sticking to planning and sticking to commitments
When you set your alarm for 9:00 am and you actually get up at 9:00 am, that’s a magical thing. Why? Because you made a commitment and followed through with it.
Setting an alarm for the morning is making a pact with yourself. When you break that pact, you’re teaching yourself not to trust yourself. It’s like when you ask someone to meet you at Starbucks, and they show up 30 minutes later. You learn to not trust them to be on time. The same goes for hitting snooze, except the breakdown in trust is internal.
Not trusting yourself can have serious negative influences on other aspects of your life. Statements like “I’ll go to the gym today” start to have seriously less weight. So, moving forward, if you don’t want to snooze the gym, class, or that essay that definitely isn’t going to write itself - then don’t snooze your alarm either!
Improve your planning and scheduling skills
This is something that translates exceptionally well to the professional world. The ability to schedule and budget time is invaluable in the world of business. In the course of a busy day, a good manager, entrepreneur, or employee needs to be able to handle time constraints.
When you have a meeting at 1:00 pm, can you snooze it? Can you ask for ten or twenty more minutes while you compose yourself in your office or cubicle? Is there no fallout from showing up to work late? Of course, the answer is no.
When you do any of things things, you can expect a visit from your supervisor. Be your own supervisor! When you commit to waking up at a certain time, hold yourself to it. You might just find that commiting to other events in your schedule become easier. Don’t be that friend or that coworker that’s always late. Start strong in the A.M.
Mental health—something we could all work on
People who say they need multiple alarms in intervals to ease themselves awake may want to reconsider. Neuroscience expert Matt James told the New York Post that went you abuse the snooze, “You’re essentially multiplying the assault on your brain and body each time you press snooze, by repeating the impact on your autonomic nervous system each time you’re awoken.”
Neil Stanley, an independent sleep expert, told The Sun, “It’s far better to have 30 minutes of consolidated sleep than to press the snooze button. Every time it wakes you up, you get an increase in cortisol [the “stress hormone” related to the “fight or flight” response] … which causes you to wake up with a start.”
He adds that added stress could easily be a result of chronically hitting snooze.
“It’ll put you in a bad mood, rather than killing you,” he explained. This last part doesn’t really come as a surprise. No one dies from hitting snooze too much, but it is important to ask yourself if you really need more stress in your life.
Stanley concludes by advising exactly what this article proposes.
“Really, the advice is to set an alarm for the time you want to wake up and then get up at that time,” he said.
Discipline and productivity
There’s a reason that people leave boot camp in the best shape of their lives. It all starts with a mandatory, early wake-up.
“You begin bright and early at around 0500 and quickly make your bed, tidy up your personal area, brush your teeth, shave, and other personal hygiene,” explains the US Army Basic Training website. “Following that,” it continues, “you meet with the rest of your squad and divide the cleaning duties and other tasks given to you.”
The life of a recruit in Basic Training is extremely repetitive, but it has one key advantage: it teaches discipline. Recruits must adhere to strict schedules and not make excuses when it comes to the day’s demanding physical activities. The fact that the “vast majority” of trainees get through basic is a testament to how successful the regimen is.
I suggest applying some of these tactics to your everyday citizen life—not necessarily the 5:00 am wake up, but the activities that require fortitude and mental and physical toughness. Don’t hit snooze; do make your bed when you get up. Do that and also plan out the day. How long will my commute take? How long to do I have to get ready? What do I need to have prepared for that meeting later? What am I going to do for dinner?
It may suck to do at first, but I think you’ll feel the benefits. By being a more disciplined person and making a schedule for yourself— even a tentative one— your productivity could skyrocket.
Abusing the snooze is making you more tired
While it may feel like getting some extra minutes in the morning is helping you, some experts say otherwise. Waking up abruptly leads to a period of grogginess called sleep inertia, something we’ve all experienced.
“Hitting the snooze button can actually make sleep inertia worse,” says Elika Kormeili, a clinical psychologist specializing in sleep. “It will leave you dragging throughout the day.”
Kormeli adds that snoozing your alarm for ten minutes won’t count toward your total hours of sleep.
A full cycle of sleep consists of both NREM and REM sleep, the latter being the restorative “deep sleep.” REM sleep doesn’t start until around twenty or thirty minutes into the cycle, according to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard. This figure is far below the ten minutes the snooze button can offer you. So, even if you successfully fall back asleep after hitting snooze, you’re not doing your body any good in just ten minutes.
It’s better to just stay awake after the alarm goes off, Kormeili says. There’s not enough time to complete another sleep cycle (which usually take 70 to 120 minutes to complete).
“In my experience, people ‘snooze’ repeatedly,” Kormeili says. “This behavior causes havoc on your sleep patterns.”
Michael Schroth is a junior English major at Worcester State University. He is a two-year consultant for his university’s writing center, a member of the honors program, and a part-time contributor to The New Worcester Spy. Michael also currently holds an editing internship with Waldorf Publishing. Catch him lifting at the gym or watching New England sports in his free time.