Hitting That Snooze Button May Be Doing More Harm Than Good

During the COVID-19 global pandemic, many of us were in lockdown, transitioning from working in an office to work-from-home. So that meant a shift in our morning routine: no commuting, no hitting the gym beforehand, no need to put on a suit, no need to put on makeup, and sometimes, no need to shower! Raise your hand if you just jumped from your bed to your desk a minute before your shift started? *Raises all the hands* So that meant we didn't need to wake up hours before work, sometimes, we would rise mere minutes before the work day began. But now, as the world slowly opens up and some of us are going back to the office, we're struggling to rise early again. Enter the snooze button on our alarms. Hitting the snooze button may be a daily occurrence, but could it be harming your mental capacity during the day?


According to a study by researchers at the University of Notre Dame, which was published in Sleep, 57% of 450 participants hit that button daily, and women were 50% more likely to do it than men. How harmful is it? Could it be the cause of our grogginess and lack of energy through the day? Or is the real culprit going to bed late and scrolling Instagram for hours before bed? We investigate.

Hitting snooze can affect your energy levels

Experts say that chronically hitting the snooze button several times in the morning, and then every morning during the week, can affect your alertness during the work day, making you less productive, and even increase your grogginess. "When you hit the snooze button repeatedly, you're doing two negative things to yourself," Robert S. Rosenberg, medical director of two Arizona Sleep Disorders Centers, told CNN. "First, you're fragmenting what little extra sleep you're getting so it is of poor quality. Second, you're starting to put yourself through a new sleep cycle that you aren't giving yourself enough time to finish. This can result in persistent grogginess throughout the day." Neurologist Dr. Aarthi Ram agrees, telling the Houston Methodist, "If anything, all of that interrupted sleep will make you feel more groggy."


What's more, it can affect your activity throughout the day, meaning you don't have the energy to exercise or even move about. The University of Notre Dame study published in the journal Sleep found that those who smashed that snooze button tracked fewer steps and more sleep disturbances than other respondents.

However, is the snooze button the real culprit behind the fragmented, poor quality sleep and resulting grogginess? Experts warn that you shouldn't place all the blame on your alarm.

Snoozing is caused by not getting enough sleep

Many of the same experts who warn against smashing that snooze button note that the underlying culprit behind grogginess and alertness is actually due to people not going to bed early enough, and practicing poor sleep hygiene before bed (we're looking at all you TikTok scrollers!). Lead author of the University of Notre Dame study, Stephen Mattingly, told Notre Dame News, "So many people are snoozing because so many people are chronically tired." Dr. Robert S. Rosenberg agrees, telling CNN we're just not getting in a full eight hours of zzz's. Mattingly also told Fortune that in some instances, hitting snooze has benefits! "If you snooze and you're more alert when you get behind the wheel to go to work, that might be a benefit and a useful one. If it reduces dependence on caffeine, that's another. It's not uniformly bad — similar to stress. Some stress is good — that's why we have the fight or flight response. There are times and places for it. There may be cases when hitting the snooze button is actually beneficial."


So if we're not getting enough zzz's, what's the solution? Medical director of sleep medicine at Atrium Health, Dr. Douglas Kirsch, told WCNC to reduce screen time before bed, and "stick to a consistent schedule." Make sure you go to bed at a reasonable hour, and try to employ relaxation techniques like stretching or showering before bed to calm your anxiety.