For Some, Hitting the Snooze Button Has Benefits

Small study finds snoozing past alarm can alleviate sleep inertia without much loss
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2023 10:26 AM CDT
For Some, Hitting the Snooze Button Has Benefits
A woman turns off the alarm on her phone.   (Getty Images/leonovo)

There's a good chance you hit the snooze button on your alarm clock this morning. It's a common habit and, though little understood, may actually help you wake up, according to new research. In a survey of more than 1,700 people, researchers found almost 70% routinely hit the snooze, with most reporting that they were too tired to start their day. Thirty-one habitual snoozers then spent two nights in a sleep lab, per NBC News. Upon waking, they had to immediately begin cognitive tests, including math problems, reports the New York Times. On one morning, they had to wake up at a certain time, but on the other, an alarm was set 30 minutes earlier than on the other day. Participants could hit the snooze button every 10 minutes for up to 30 minutes before setting to work.

The snoozing didn't have a significant negative affect on sleep quality—though participants got six minutes less sleep on average than when they couldn't snooze—and seemed to boost cognition as participants performed slightly better at the cognitive tests immediately after waking. "They came to alertness quicker," Tina Sundelin, a research fellow in psychology at Stockholm University and lead author of the study published Wednesday in the Journal of Sleep Research, tells NBC. It could be that for those who are very tired, "half-sleeping, or sleeping rather than being awake and not functioning, might actually be helpful to your final wake-up," she adds, per the Times. The idea is that going from a deep to a lighter stage of sleep through snoozing is a less severe way to wake up.

It may help alleviate sleep inertia—the impaired cognitive state immediately after waking marked by grogginess, irritability, and slower reaction times—"without substantially disturbing sleep, for late chronotypes and those with morning drowsiness," according to the study. However, the small study size, average age of participants (27), the fact that they tended not to be morning people, as well as a lack of research in this area means researchers can't draw general conclusions. Per the Times, a previous study of 300 university students in Japan found hitting the snooze button resulted in prolonged sleep inertia. Sleep experts also note habitual snoozers may be sleep-deprived or have undiagnosed sleep disorders. Individuals with symptoms of insomnia were excluded from the sleep study. (More sleep stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.