In the moment, there’s nothing more satisfying than silencing your phone, turning it over, and dozing off again—especially when it’s Monday morning, it’s frigid outside, and you’d sooner skip breakfast than leave your warm cocoon of blankets. But this small act of rebellion could ultimately cost you more than a few minutes of your morning routine. By hitting the snooze button, you’re interfering with your body’s natural wake mechanisms, which actually sets you up for more exhaustion during the day ahead.
“When you let yourself fall back asleep, you’re tricking your body into thinking it’s going back into sleep mode,” explains Adam Tishman, sleep expert and co-founder of Helix. “When your alarm goes off again, your body and brain are confused, resulting in that foggy feeling called sleep inertia. Sleep inertia can stay with you throughout the day, making you actually feel more tired throughout the day.”
And sleep inertia probably isn’t even the only source of your exhaustion—hitting snooze can also significantly impact the rapid eye movement part of the sleep cycle, the time during which our bodies are most inactive and our brains are most active. (REM sleep is when we dream.)
When we wake up, the body typically has to transition through other sleep stages to fall back into REM sleep, the final stage of the sleep cycle—which is exceedingly difficult if you’re constantly hitting snooze. “Throughout the night, your body switches in and out of REM, with REM increasing throughout the night as morning approaches,” explains Tishman. “If you set your alarm early with the intention of pressing the snooze button, you deprive yourself of receiving the full restorative benefits of REM sleep as it’s much harder to fall back into REM sleep once your alarm has gone off.”
But if breaking the habit seems easier said than done, it’s probably because we can actually become addicted to hitting snooze. “Your body and brain get used to your sleep and waking patterns,” says Tishman. “Once the habit is formed, it can be difficult to break.”
Difficult but not impossible, especially if you’re armed with a few expert-approved tips. Keep scrolling for Tishman’s pointers for waking up the first time your alarm rings—and in turn feeling much better throughout the day.