A sleep specialist explains why hitting snooze is a terrible idea

Fight The Snooze Button
Fight The Snooze Button

If you're like me, then every morning after the alarm goes off you hit the snooze button.

It feels good, but it's probably not good for you, according to Mayo Clinic professor of medicine and former president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine Timothy Morgenthaler.

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"Most sleep specialists think that snooze alarms are not a good idea," Morgenthaler, who is also board certified in the field of sleep medicine, told Business Insider. "If you think about it ... you would need a snooze alarm if you're planning on waking up too soon."

That snooze button is there because you know when the alarm chimes that you're not ready to get out of bed. While an extra few minutes under the covers might seem glorious, bigger issues are at work, Morgenthaler said.

If you're not ready to get out of bed, it probably means you didn't get enough sleep the night before. Most adults need between seven and eight hours of sleep a day, according to the National Institute of Health.

But many of us don't get at least seven hours of sleep a night, and one of the telltale signs is our terrible habit of literally falling asleep at the wheel. Between 2009 and 2010, the CDC collected questionnaires from over 147,000 residents in Washington DC to discover that on average 1 out of every 25 drivers had reported falling asleep at the wheel within the last 30 days.

Another problem with snooze alarms that other sleep specialists have found is that they hinder your overall quality of sleep. During sleep, our brain runs through multiple sleep cycles that each last 90 minutes and consist of five stages.

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So, if you fall asleep after hitting the snooze button, then you're setting yourself up for another sleep cycle that you have no chance of finishing, according to Robert S. Rosenberg, the medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley and Flagstaff, Arizona.

Not only does this rob you of more quality sleep that you would have had if you'd just set the alarm 10 minutes later it also "messes with your brain hormones" and disrupts your circadian rhythm, Rosengerg told Van Winkle's.

Your circadian rhythm is the internal biological clock and is one of the key systems that control our overall drive to sleep or wake.

Therefore, if you're one of the many Americans suffering from fatigue — whether at work, behind the wheel, or somewhere else — you might want to consider banning the snooze button from your life.

"If you're getting enough sleep and if you have no sleep disorder then you shouldn't need something like that," Morgenthaler said and added that a good first step would be to start going to bed a half an hour earlier.

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