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I've read that the snooze button really, really interferes with the wake-up process of the brain. To caricature, in my understanding snoozing the alarm clock can render you a zombie for at least part of the day.

The trouble with the snooze buttons (and with modern sleep):

"But what you’re actually doing is making the wake-up process more difficult and drawn out. If you manage to drift off again, you are likely plunging your brain back into the beginning of the sleep cycle, which is the worst point to be woken up—and the harder we feel it is for us to wake up, the worse we think we’ve slept."

So how bad is our beloved snooze button? Is snooze indeed that damaging for daily productivity?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

The science is pretty persuasive and matches with my experience. I feel that I function better and come to alertness and become truly awake more quickly if I resist snoozing. That said, I've never set my snooze to longer than 10-15 minutes. If I can afford a 30 minute snooze I'd probably just set my alarm for 30 minutes later!

I've also found that a better, less abrupt way of waking up helps. I have a timer that slowly fades my bedside lamp in over the course of 30 minutes (I was skeptical it would work, but it does!) or there is the Philips Wake Up Light and others.

There are various apps that work on a similar concept of more gentle awakening, such as Progressive Alarm, but I'm not sure that having a device at my bedside is good for various other reasons!

Most importantly: if you find you are needing to snooze often--and you have the time to do so--then you might want to re-examine your sleep duration and schedule. I've not had much luck with apps that are intended to monitor sleep cycles for analysis and to wake you up at better times, but it seems logical to me that if I am snoozing more often than not, then adjusting my sleep schedule is probably going to be a much more effective approach.

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I recently made a great leap in my own war with the snooze button. I wish it had never been invented, but I have now proved to myself:

NO SNOOZE If I get out of bed immediately I feel like crap for at least 5 minutes, but after that things seem bearable.

ONE OR MORE SNOOZES Get up after a snooze and I will feel exactly as crap as above, for the same 5 minutes. So what did I gain? Guilt. What did I lose? Self-respect.

I am sad that this moment of enlightenment came after 25 years of snooze abuse. My productivity was definitely ruined by snoozing, and I lost countless hours for no gain.

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From personal experience, I don't notice a negative difference. If anything, I feel more ready to wake up after using snooze for another 30 minutes of precious sleep. I've never done it for more than that, though, so maybe there is a time limit before reaching the negative effect zone? Perhaps max 30 minutes allows you to stay in the Power nap area, instead of full-on sleep?

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I don't notice a major difference if I snooze (heavily) or not. And yes, I have been a heavy user. The fact of snoozing is not a component that determines the quality of my day.

What however does impact my day is the snooze duration. Opportunity cost. I think you have to reconsider why you want to snooze anyway? Answer: a lack of sleep and/or an unnatural sleeping rhythm. But the answer to that is out of scope here.

Find a way so you don't need the snooze button. Increase the quality of your life.

Lost time can never be found again.

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