You snooze, you lose? It's not quite as simple as that
Actually it might give you a brief edge on those weird morning people
If on waking your first instinct is to smash that snooze button, new research may encourage you to let sleeping dogs lie.
Though the practice is an everyday occurrence for many of us (except on weekends), there hasn't been much scientific investigation of snoozing despite claims that it has negative cognitive effects. So a team from Stockholm University aimed to learn more about the behavior.
For their study published in the Journal of Sleep Research, the psychologists quizzed 1,732 people on their morning habits, and found that about 71 percent snoozed on workdays, and 23 percent on workdays as well as days off. Some 60 percent of snoozers reported they "most often" or "always" fall asleep between alarms.
Participants tended to spend an average 22 minutes per day snoozing, but would lose about 13 minutes of sleep on workdays compared to those who got up as soon as the alarm sounded. The difference between sleep loss on days off was negligible.
Snoozers also tended to be younger and more likely to be the kind of people who only truly come to life in the evening. However, feelings of morning drowsiness were also more common in this cohort.
To get a handle on snoozing's effects on mood, sleepiness, and cortisol levels (the stress hormone that controls alertness), the researchers followed up the above with a second study in a sleep lab with 31 habitual snoozers over three nights.
On one morning they were allowed to snooze for 30 minutes, and another they had to get up with the first alarm. The team found that even though the participants' sleep was disturbed through those blissful 30 minutes, most of them still got more than 20 minutes of extra shuteye, barely affecting their total sleep for that night.
In the snoozing state, none of them had to wake from deep sleep – a much more agitating experience – and they were also found to perform slightly better in cognitive tests right after waking, although this leveled off as the day progressed.
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Lead author Tina Sundelin said: "Our findings show that those who snooze on average sleep slightly shorter and feel more drowsy in the morning compared to those who never snooze. But there were no negative effects of snoozing on cortisol release, morning tiredness, mood, or sleep quality throughout the night.
"Our study shows that half an hour of snoozing does not have negative effects on night sleep or sleep inertia, the feeling of not quite being alert in the morning. If anything, we saw some positive outcomes, such as a decreased likelihood of waking from deep sleep. When participants were allowed to snooze they were also a bit more quick-thinking right when they got up."
But she added: "It's of course important to remember that the study only included people who are regular snoozers and find it easy to go back to sleep after each alarm. Snoozing is most likely not for everyone."
This author finds that choice of alarm plays a big part in how often the snooze button will be abused. Many phones' defaults are jarring and beg to be deactivated immediately, but opting for a favorite song may just lull you back to sleep permanently, which risks disciplinary action at the office.
We ripped the audio from this video, made it into an alarm, and let it loop until we get out of bed (though we do wish "The Only One They Fear Is You" from the Doom Eternal soundtrack would continue). It moves mountains. ®