How to stop snoozing
It’s that familiar sound again: Our alarm is beeping and it’s time to get up. But we don’t feel quite ready to take on the day, so we reach over and hit the snooze button. Then, after what feels like a blink of an eye, we do it all over again.
Snooze. Sleep. Repeat.
This fight goes on for a few rounds and then we're battling our clock (again) to get out the door in time. We know it’s probably not the best way to start a productive day, but we can’t break the habit. So, what tools can teach us how to stop hitting snooze?
Before we deal with how to stop snoozing, let’s look at why it is not good for your health.
Each snooze session on an alarm clock is normally between 5 and 10 minutes long. But drifting in and out of sleep for those extra few minutes could have a negative effect on our physical health.
When we snooze, we are disrupting the REM sleep — or dream sleep — which is a restorative sleep state, and that can trigger a response that increases your blood pressure and heartbeat. And 5 or 10 minutes is not enough time to return to restorative sleep. Hitting the snooze button is also not the best way for our minds to begin the day. We add to our stress by starting our morning in a fight with our alarms, where we eventually concede defeat. So we’ve established it’s a bad habit. But it’s still tempting, right? One of the first things to look at as we work out how to avoid hitting snooze is whether we are getting enough sleep.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of Americans aren’t getting the 7-9 hours of sleep recommended for our overall health and well-being. Not sleeping enough is linked with many chronic diseases and conditions including heart disease, obesity, and depression.
So, to figure out how to stop snoozing the alarm, let’s start by looking at how to get a better, longer night’s sleep.
At any given time, about 30% of us are having difficulty sleeping, and almost all of us will suffer at some point in our lives. Bedtime is perhaps the worst time of the day to get caught up in our thoughts. We are stressed about the events of the day, the stress keeps us awake, and that stresses us out even more.
Meditating before bed is an excellent way to let go of the day and Headspace offers sleep-based guided meditations to help us rest the mind, so we can rest the body.
Headspace also offers sleepcasts to help us unwind and drift off. These 45-55 minute stories take us to a dreamy environment and are remixed every night, so they are slightly different each time we listen. This is to avoid memorizing the narrative and using it to track the passage of time, something that causes anxiety for restless sleepers.
There are a number of other practical sleep hygiene techniques we can implement to optimize our conditions for sleep and help us with how to stop hitting the snooze button.
Keep the room cool and comfortable — studies suggest the ideal temperature is around 65 degrees. We should try and go to bed and wake up at the same time, give or take 20 minutes, every day including the weekends. Get enough natural light in the day, then dim the lights in your home after dinner. And unplug from emails, internet browsing, and social media one hour before bed.
Ideally, our phones should be out of reach when we sleep. And because many of us use our phones as alarms, this will also help us to stop snoozing in the morning. There’s no pressing the snooze button when we have to get up to shut off the alarm.
A 2018 study found that people who used Headspace for only 10 days reported an 11% decrease in stress. After 30 days, they reported a 32% decrease. The less stressed we are, the more soundly we will sleep.
Headspace co-founder and former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe suggests that we meditate for ten minutes a day — about the length of the snooze cycle on many alarm clocks. So instead of pressing snooze, why not use that extra 10 minutes to prepare your mind for the day?
He says: "Science is pointing to 10 minutes a day, every day of the week, being far more beneficial than 70 minutes on one day of the week." And even if our main reason for meditating is to improve our sleep, the best time to add daily meditation to your routine is probably in the morning.
"I think doing it first thing in the morning, one, ensures that you do it,” says Andy. "Two, you start the day fresh, and three, you lay down a foundation of mindfulness that means that you are more likely to make mindful decisions throughout the day, and are more likely to experience that quality of life throughout the day,"
So with all its health benefits, there is no better alternative to help us with how to stop snoozing in the morning than replacing it with a healthier habit. Meditation does for the mind what sleep does for the body. By meditating instead of snoozing, we start the day with a rested mind.
Andy explains: “Resting the body is very different from resting the mind. We can be sound asleep but still have a racing mind, which explains why we might wake up feeling so tired.
"How much meditation is equal to how much sleep? Well, it’s hard to say, as there are so many different factors, but I would say that 20 minutes of meditation, plus the 10 minutes to get ready, more than make up for the 30 minutes of sleep you’d otherwise be having.
"Now at first, the body might object a little. But in time, both the body and mind will adapt.”
With Headspace, you can access hundreds of guided meditations and join over 40 million people who have already downloaded the app. There are guided wind-down meditations, sleep music and sleepcasts to help us sleep better at night, and guided meditations to make part of our daily routine for a more productive and less stressful day. So join Headspace now for free, to replace hitting snooze with healthier habits.