Extreme Measures for Extreme Snoozers

Learn about the science of snooze, why snoozing is bad for your health and some tips and gadgets to stop it

Snoozing alarm clock

Sleeping should be a restful, restorative and stress-free part of our day. However, for millions of people, slipping into your dreams can be a nightmare. For others, the real problem is getting out of bed.

Snoozing is a tantalizing prospect for even the strongest and most well-adjusted morning people. Almost everyone has snoozed their way through class or a morning meeting before, but we’re here to talk to those who go beyond the norm – those who can truly manage to keep slapping that snooze button through anything: from weddings to funerals, and hot dates to due dates. This is for the most hardcore serial-snoozers out there.

Why we choose to snooze

Your body relies on a complex set of external cues, internal clocks, and chemical processes to wake your brain up in the morning. Things like light levels, your circadian rhythm and lifestyle factors all influence when we arise.

However, in the modern 9-5 world, we don’t always have the luxury of waking up naturally. Instead, we wake to the gentle, calming, grating screech of our smartphones or alarm clocks in order to meet the demands of our lives.

Each morning, we ignore our bodies and the hundreds of thousands of years of evolution that have optimized how we as humans greet the day. That scream of the alarm disrupts our sleep cycle – throwing the body and brain out of whack and starting our day at a disadvantage.

When we interrupt our sleep with an alarm, we exacerbate something referred to as sleep inertia. Sleep inertia is the period of grogginess, confusion, disorientation or grumpiness following waking from sleep. This period typically lasts about thirty minutes in ideal conditions, but with sleep deprivation and/or abrupt awakenings present it can extend up to four hours.

Groggy woman

This is why when you look over at the alarm and have to make the split-second decision to snooze or not to snooze, you may choose the latter. Your brain and body aren’t yet functioning properly, and your decision making machinery is working at a disadvantage.

In fact, the body hasn’t even warmed its core temperature back to baseline levels when your alarm wakes you – which makes the pull of your warm bed that much harder to resist.

We sincerely apologize if we’ve made you hate alarms not only for their obnoxious call but also the inherent wrongness of their use. We hate them too.

Your body relies on a complex set of external cues, internal clocks, and chemical processes to wake your brain up in the morning.

Why you shouldn’t snooze

Each time you hit snooze and get back to bed, the body thinks it’s about to enter another long sleep cycle, only to be interrupted in a few minutes with another alarm. Unfortunately, waking up at the start of a new sleep cycle is the worst possible time to do so.

These repeated sleep interruptions have shown an impact on wakefulness and performance similar to that of sleep deprivation. These effects can be compounded with actual sleep deprivation, as is often the case with serial snoozers.

Delaying your wake time again and again in hopes of feeling more restful when you do decide to get out of bed is ultimately flawed logic; the more you snooze, the less pleasant your morning will be.

Sleep deprivation and snoozing

What causes serial snoozing can boil down to one main problem – not getting enough sleep.

For most people without sleep or anxiety disorders, this can be an easy fix. Adults typically need 7-8 hours of sleep a night, so get 7-8 hours of sleep a night.

Turn your screens off before bed, don’t drink or smoke too close to bedtime and try and hop under the covers around the same time each night. Don’t let work, social engagement, or (if you’re like some of us) video games keep you awake until the wee hours. Once you find yourself getting to bed at a reasonable hour, the worst of your snoozing career should be over.

Chronotypes and snoozing

No, it’s not the name of a 70’s sci-fi movie

If you’ve boned up on your sleep hygiene and are still having a hard time getting into bed and waking without snoozing, you may have been blessed with an unlucky “chronotype.”

Chronotypes are groups of people that follow similar patterns in terms of time windows of activity levels and sleep.

“Bear” chronotypes, the half of the population who wake gradually with the sun and become drowsy after sunset, are well-suited to modern society. The other three groups (lions and dolphins and wolves, oh my) aren’t so lucky.

While we can’t exactly help stop the root cause of your snoozing overnight, we have some tools and tips to get even the most chronic snoozers out of bed each morning.

If you’ve boned up on your sleep hygiene and are still having a hard time getting into bed and waking without snoozing, you may have been blessed with an unlucky chronotype.

Tips and tricks for snoozers

If you’re looking to break your snoozing streak, here are some tips to get up and at ’em on the first try.

Old school alarm clock

  1. Smart alarm placement: One of the simplest ways to make sure you can’t snooze your way through the day is by just putting your alarm somewhere slightly out of reach from your sleeping position. Having to get out of bed to turn off your alarm will help wake you and resist the urge to get back in bed and sleep an extra few minutes.
  2. Coffee: It isn’t just delicious and energizing to drink – the scent and allure of it can also help you resist the urge to snooze. Program coffee to brew a few minutes before your alarm would go off, and let the smell of fresh coffee wake you up and draw you out of bed.
  3. Buy an old-school alarm clock: With the rise of smartphones, we’ve seen a mirrored decline in alarm clock sales. It’s a shame really because old-school alarm clocks are typically far louder and more jarring than an iPhone speaker. If you want something that really gets you out of bed, get an alarm clock and put it on the other side of the room. 

Tools to prevent the snooze 

If the tips above don’t get you out of bed and keep you there, here some gadgets and apps that might do the trick. 

Ruggie alarm clock

  1. Alarmy: The app, touting itself as the “World’s Most Annoying alarm clock app,” forces users to complete a task before they can turn their alarm off. Tasks can include vigorously shaking the phone, solving a math problem (which is difficult enough without being in the throes of sleep inertia), or moving to a predetermined location to take a picture. Devilishly clever, Alarmy is a sound way to make sure you start off your day on time.
  2. Ruggie: The Ruggie is an alarm clocked dressed up as a bedside rug. The device works using pressure sensors in inside the mat; after the alarm inside the mat begins to ring, Ruggie owners have to walk to and remain on top of the device to power off the alarm. Also, it looks really soft.
  3. Clocky: The “original runaway alarm clock on wheels” is likely the most novel (or annoying) device on the list. The premise is simple: as the alarm goes off, the clock will drive away and beep until you can catch it and turn it off. It’s about as subtle as a sledgehammer, but there’s no more invigorating way to wake up than reenacting the chicken chase scene from Rocky II with your alarm clock.
  4. Sonic Bomb Alarm Clock and Bed Shaker: For those who want to make very sure they have no chance of snoozing or sleeping through their alarm, check this out. The aptly named Sonic Bomb assaults sleepers with a three-pronged alarm system; the clock itself rings at an incredible 113 dB (a few dB lower than a jet take-off), a pad under your pillow vibrates and flashing lights erupt from a display on the clock. While the device does have a snooze button available, very few are likely to want to wake up to the alarm system more than once a morning.
  5. Phillips Wake-Up Light: Part of what drives people to snooze is that their bodies haven’t received the proper cues that tell them to wake up, one of which is morning light. This alarm clock and light system attempt to replicate the sunrise, brightening gradually over 20-40 minutes before the alarm goes off. While it’s one of the pricier items on the list at $109.79, Phillips claims to have clinical data backing up its utility, and if it doesn’t work for you there’s a 90-day money back guarantee.
  6. SWAN Teasmade and Alarm Clock: Woe to the coffee drinkers reading – the only bedside brewer/alarm clock we could find was for tea (or instant coffee). While you’re sleeping, the SWAN alarm clock begins to boil two cups worth of water so you’ll wake up to an alarm and a cup full of steaming water ready for your tea. Before you ask, yes, the plug does fit US and Canadian outlets. Tea isn’t just for the Brits.

So there it is – your guide on snoozing and how to stop it. If you’ve read the article, tried some tips and gadgets and still can’t sleep, try buying a dog or having a child. Both are equipped with loud alarms, are void of a snooze button, and will blast you out of your sweet dreams with their nightmarish morning breath.

For more on snoozing, strange alarms and sleep, stay tuned on Mattress Advisor.