snooze_alert.jpgWake up, sleepy heads! If your alarm clock’s snooze button is your best friend in the morning, cover up that yawn because we may have some important news for you. In this New York Times article, Dr. Edward Stepanski says short bouts of sleep diminish the restorative value of rest. In other words, those extra Zs you catch from hitting the snooze button way too often may not be worth the damage to your body in the long run.

Stepanski, who studied sleep fragmentation at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, shares how even small noises that don’t wake you up already affect your sleep quality. “That’s why someone who falls asleep with the TV on may wake up exhausted,” he says. “So, if a person is rousing themselves enough to reset a clock, there’s likely to be an even more profound effect.”

The snooze button usually interrupts you during rapid eye movement (REM), the stage of sleep where muscles are relaxed and people dream. A decrease in REM sleep results in a weakened mental state when awake, sleep researchers say. Thus, you find yourself feeling exhausted even when you get a proper amount of sleep.

Stepanski emphasizes, though, that people who get the required eight hours of sleep are less likely to nod off again after hitting the snooze button. This means the chances of getting interrupted sleep in the morning are slim. Meanwhile, night owls and habitual late sleepers may find themselves physically weak because snoozing on top of getting too little sleep.

If you’re reading this and think, “Hey, I use the snooze button a lot but I don’t feel tired, at all,” think again. Our bodies are so used to being busy (and to relying on the stay-awake effect we get from caffeine) that researchers believe a lot of people live in a “perpetual sleep-deprived state” without noticing it. So the next time you set your alarm clock, consider setting it to a later time rather than an earlier hour you can hit snooze on. Start training your body to sleep early, and you won’t need to snooze. Your body will naturally do the work for you.

For more information on this issue, read the full article by Martica Heaner from The New York Times website, “Snooze Alarm Takes Its Toll on a Nation.”

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