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Health Experts Reveal Why Snoozing May Be the Symptom of a Bigger Sleep Problem You Need to Address

Waking up in the morning can be challenging and it is tempting to hit the snooze button and get a few extra minutes of sleep. However, experts warn that the habit may not be the healthiest. Snoozing can disrupt a person’s sleep cycle and is an indication of a more significant issue such as sleep deprivation. According to Sunjay Kansagra, a professor of child neurology and sleep medicine at Duke University Health, “The fact that you need an alarm in and of itself tells you that you’re probably skimping on the amount of sleep your body needs.” Pressing snooze on an alarm does allow the body to get back to sleep; however, those extra minutes may not be helpful as it is possible to wake up from rapid eye movement sleep, which is when the brain is active and people often dream. Dr. Kansagra explained that the next few minutes of sleep “may not be as refreshing as if you were to spend those minutes in deeper sleep.”

Researchers are still trying to determine the relationship between sleep inertia and the depth of sleep. Waking up from a deeper sleep may lead to greater sleep inertia, or grogginess. In a study of mice and rats, researchers found that neurons were “off” or slower to fire when waking up from REM sleep versus non-REM sleep. As a result, pressing snooze repeatedly may make someone feel more disoriented and tired after they get out of bed.

While it is unclear how snoozing might affect the body’s circadian rhythm, experts agree that in a perfect world, people should not need an alarm clock to wake up in the morning. Rather, they should wake up naturally once the body has gotten as much sleep as it needs. Although snoozing may not be part of an ideal sleep routine, it is not dangerous. The real concern with pressing the snooze button frequently is that it is likely a symptom of a much larger issue. Experts agreed that in a perfect world, people should wake up naturally once the body has gotten as much sleep as it needs.

In one study, just over half of people reported needing multiple alarms to get out of bed in the morning. About one in three American adults are not getting enough sleep, with almost 40% saying they fall asleep during the day without meaning to at least once a month. Sleep deprivation has been linked to type 2 diabetes, depression, obesity, heart disease, and dangerous situations while driving or working.

Fixing sleep deprivation requires good sleep in two categories: quantity and quality. Adults should be getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. If someone is hitting those targets and still feeling tired, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “Everybody’s sleep need is genetically determined, and you can’t really change it unfortunately,” Dr. Kansagra said. “You have to get the amount of sleep that your body naturally needs.” The healthier option would be to set one alarm to the latest possible time, which would guarantee getting as much sleep as possible that is of better quality rather than hitting the snooze button multiple times.