Snoozing is actually good for your health, study shows

Snoozing is actually good for your health, study shows

Pressing the "Snooze" button on your alarm, long considered a factor in fatigue rather than good sleep, may not be a bad thing, according to this Swedish study.

Going back to sleep for a few minutes after snoozing your alarm in the morning? Don't feel bad about it! While for many people the "Snooze" button on the alarm clock conjures up images of complicated mornings, this research from from Stockholm University shows that there are a number of advantages to morning sleepiness

They conducted two studies published in the Journal of Sleep Research on Wednesday, October 18. The first looked at the profile of snooze users, with a questionnaire involving 1,732 people. 69% of them reported falling back asleep, for an average of 22 minutes. Younger participants and "night owls" were more likely to do so.

"Regular snoozers tend to feel more mentally drowsy upon waking, which goes along with the finding that they are younger and later chronotypes than those who never snooze. These individuals may need more time to ward off the effects of sleep inertia, and snoozing may be a potential way of doing this," emphasizes Tina Sundelin, a sleep researcher at Stockholm University, considering this finding unsurprising. While feeling tired was the most common reason given for going back to sleep, some responded that staying in bed for a few minutes longer felt more like "a luxury".

Snoozing is not that bad

The second study looked at the impact of snoozing, using 31 people subjected to different situations. In one case, they were asked to get up immediately when the alarm sounded, while in the other, they were woken up 30 minutes earlier, but were allowed to go back to sleep between alarms that sounded every nine minutes for 30 minutes.

"Snoozing resulted in about 6 min of lost sleep while preventing awakenings from slow-wave sleep", said Sundelin, concluding that they, therefore, went back to sleep in the half-hour before they got up. What's interesting is that "There were no clear effects of snoozing on the cortisol awakening response, morning sleepiness, mood, or overnight sleep architecture," the researchers found out. 

They were then subjected to cognitive tests such as mathematics or a memory test. There was no real difference between the snoozers and the others in terms of fatigue or test performance. "30 min of snoozing improved or did not affect performance on cognitive tests directly upon rising compared to an abrupt awakening", adds the researcher, concluding that the effect of going back to sleep in the morning is not that negative.

No reason, then, to stop pressing the snooze button on your alarm clock, at least for no longer than 30 minutes. "It might even help people with morning sleepiness to be slightly more awake when they get up," concludes Tina Sundelin.