Why scientists say it’s not a BAD idea to hit the snooze button and treat yourself to an extra 30 minutes in bed in the morning
- Researchers quizzed 1,732 people in Sweden, the US, UK, Finland and Australia
- The volunteers who were habitual snoozers did better in three out of four tests
Snoozing isn’t losing, as people who regularly press the snooze button may be mentally sharper when they finally get up.
The most common reason people give for resetting their alarm and enjoying a snooze is that they are too tired to wake up, a study of more than 1,700 people found.
Scientists conclude that a snooze may therefore fight off ‘sleep inertia’ — the sleepy struggle to get going mentally in the morning.
Evidence for this came from 31 people given permission to set an alarm half an hour before they actually needed to wake up, and press the snooze button three times.
They were tested on their memory, simple maths sums and a confusing mental task after doing this – and after sleeping through to the same time.
The most common reason people give for resetting their alarm and enjoying a snooze is that they are too tired to wake up, a study of more than 1,700 people found. Scientists conclude that a snooze may therefore fight off ‘sleep inertia’ — the sleepy struggle to get going mentally in the morning
The volunteers, who were habitual snoozers, did better in three out of four tests after being allowed to snooze, suggesting resetting their alarm made them mentally sharper.
Sleep trackers showed a snooze made people less likely to have to get up following a deep sleep – which may reduce brain fog.
Surprisingly, despite 30 minutes spent snoozing with interruptions from their alarm, the snoozers actually got around 23 minutes of sleep.
However the researchers caution that their study is small, and the morning benefits may only be seen in people who regularly hit the snooze button.
These tend to be younger people and night owls, who potentially go to bed later, so benefit from even interrupted extra sleep in the morning.
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Dr Tina Sundelin, who led the study from Stockholm University, said: ‘The findings indicate that there is no reason to stop snoozing in the morning if you enjoy it – at least not for snooze times around 30 minutes.
‘In fact, it may even help those with morning drowsiness to be slightly more awake once they get up.’
The study, published in the Journal of Sleep Research, presents the results of an online questionnaire filled out by 1,732 people in Sweden, the US, UK, Finland and Australia.
It showed more than two-thirds of people set multiple alarms or hit snooze at least sometimes.
These snoozers were almost four times more likely to say they were night owls than people who never snoozed, and six years younger than non-snoozers on average.
Researchers recruited 31 people who snoozed at least twice a week to compare their mental abilities after snoozing or having to get up with the first alarm.
After snoozing, people did better in a test of mental arithmetic, which asked them to quickly and accurately add numbers together, compared to when they slept through to their alarm.
They did better in a memory test asking them to recognise words they had been shown previously.
A snooze also meant people did better in a tricky test where they had to name the colour a word was written in, like blue, even if the word itself was ‘red’.
After pressing the snooze button, volunteers more quickly completed this tricky task after previously seeing the word for a colour written in the same colour.
However snoozing made no difference in a working memory test, where people had to remember the point at which a box in a grid flashed red.
The apparent benefits of lying in after the first alarm had also disappeared by lunchtime, when people were given the tests again.
Snoozing was not found to make people less sleepy or more joyful, when they were asked about drowsiness and mood.
Indeed, the 31 snoozers who were monitored in the lab tended to have more light sleep after resetting their alarm compared to sleeping through.
But, despite having to wake up to hit the snooze button about every 10 minutes, the effects on their overall sleep quality were not found to be significant.
HOW MUCH SLEEP SHOULD YOU GET? AND WHAT TO DO IF YOU STRUGGLE TO GET ENOUGH
– Preschool (3-5 years): 10-13 hours
– School-age (6-13 years): 9-11 hours
– Teen (14-17 years): 8-10 hours
– Young adult (18-25) 7-9 hours
– Adult (26-64): 7-9 hours
– Older adult (65 or more) 7-8 hours
Source: Sleep Foundation
WHAT CAN I DO TO IMPROVE MY SLEEP?
1) Limit screen time an hour before bed
Our bodies have an internal ‘clock’ in the brain, which regulates our circadian rhythm.
Mobiles, laptops and TVs emit blue light, which sends signals to our brain to keep us awake.
2) Address your ‘racing mind’
Take 5-10 minutes before you go to sleep to sit with a notebook and write down a list of anything that you need to do the following day.
3) Avoid caffeine after 12pm
If you want a hot drink in the afternoon or evening, go for a decaffeinated tea or coffee.
4) Keep a cool bedroom temperature
Keep bedroom thermostats to around 18°C. During spring/summer try sleeping with your bedroom window open to reduce the temperature and increase ventilation.
5) Limit alcohol in the evenings
While you might initially fall into deep sleep more easily, you then wake up frequently during the night and have poorer deep sleep overall.
6) Supplement vitamin D
Vitamin D plays a role in sleep. Vitamin D is widely available online and from most pharmacies.
If you are unsure if this is appropriate or how much you need, seek advice from your GP.
7) Ensure sufficient intake of magnesium and zinc
Foods high in magnesium include spinach, kale, avocado, bananas, cashews, and seeds.
Foods high in zinc include meat, oysters, crab, cheese, cooked lentils, and dark chocolate (70%+).
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