Snoozing is no loss as people who hit the snooze button regularly may be more mentally sharp when they finally get up.
According to a study of more than 1,700 people, the most common reason people turn off their alarms and enjoy a nap is because they are too tired to wake up.
Scientists conclude that napping can therefore combat “sleep inertia” – the sleepy struggle to get mentally going in the morning.
Proof of this came from 31 people who were given permission to set an alarm and hit the snooze button three times half an hour before they were supposed to wake up.
They were then tested on their memory, simple mathematical calculations and a mind-boggling brainteaser – and after they had slept through the night until the same time.
According to a study of more than 1,700 people, the most common reason people turn off their alarms and enjoy a nap is because they are too tired to wake up. Scientists conclude that napping can therefore combat “sleep inertia” – the sleepy struggle to get mentally going in the morning
The volunteers who habitually dozed performed better in three out of four tests after they were allowed to sleep, suggesting that resetting their alarm clock made them mentally sharper.
Sleep trackers showed that napping reduces the likelihood that people will have to get up after a deep sleep – potentially reducing brain fog.
Surprisingly, despite snoozing for 30 minutes interrupted by the alarm clock, the sleepers were actually able to sleep for about 23 minutes.
However, researchers caution that their study is small and the morning benefits may only be seen in people who regularly hit the snooze button.
These are generally younger people and night owls who may go to bed later and therefore benefit from interrupted extra sleep in the morning.
Dr. Tina Sundelin, who led the study from Stockholm University, said: “The results suggest that there is no reason to stop sleeping in the morning if you enjoy it – at least not with a snooze time of around 30 minutes.”
“In fact, it can even help people with morning sleepiness feel a little more alert when they get up.”
The study, published in the Journal of Sleep Research, presents the results of an online questionnaire completed by 1,732 people in Sweden, the US, the UK, Finland and Australia.
It showed that more than two-thirds of people set multiple alarm clocks or hit the snooze function at least sometimes.
These nappers were nearly four times more likely to be night owls than people who never dozed, and they were, on average, six years younger than non-snoppers.
Researchers recruited 31 people who dozed at least twice a week to compare their mental abilities after dozing or getting up at the first alarm.
After sleeping, participants performed better on a mental arithmetic test that asked them to add numbers quickly and accurately than if they slept through the alarm.
They performed better on a memory test in which they were asked to recognize previously shown words.
A nap also meant that participants performed better on a tricky test that required them to name the color a word was written in, such as blue, even if the word itself was “red.”
After hitting the snooze button, volunteers completed this tricky task faster after previously seeing the word for a color written in the same color.
However, in a working memory test in which participants had to remember the point at which a box on a grid flashed red, snoozing made no difference.
Even the apparent benefits of lying down after the first alarm had disappeared by lunchtime, when people were tested again.
Snoozing was not found to make people less sleepy or happier when asked about sleepiness and mood.
In fact, the 31 snoopers monitored in the lab tended to sleep more easily after resetting their alarm clocks than if they slept through the night.
But even though they had to wake up about every 10 minutes to hit the snooze button, the impact on their overall sleep quality wasn’t significant.
How much sleep should you get? And what do you do if you find it difficult to get enough?
– preschool (3-5 years): 10-13 hours
– school age (6-13 years): 9-11 hours
– teenager (14-17 years): 8-10 hours
– Young adult (18-25) 7-9 hours
– Adult (26-64): 7-9 hours
– Older adult (65 or more) 7-8 hours
Source: Sleep Foundation
What can I do to improve my sleep?
1) Limit screen time to one hour before bed
Our body has an internal “clock” in the brain that regulates our daily rhythm.
Cell phones, laptops, and televisions emit blue light, which sends signals to our brains to keep us awake.
2) Address your “racing mind.”
Before you go to bed, take five to ten minutes to sit with a notebook and write down a list of everything you need to do the next day.
3) Avoid caffeine after 12 p.m
If you want a hot drink in the afternoon or evening, reach for a decaffeinated tea or coffee.
4) Maintain a cool bedroom temperature
Keep bedroom thermostats at around 18°C. In spring/summer, try sleeping with your bedroom window open to reduce the temperature and increase ventilation.
5) Limit alcohol consumption in the evening
While you may initially fall into deep sleep more easily, you will wake up more often during the night and have poorer overall deep sleep.
6) Supplement Vitamin D
Vitamin D plays a role in sleep. Vitamin D is available online and in most pharmacies.
If you are unsure whether this is appropriate or how much you need, contact your GP.
7) Ensure adequate intake of magnesium and zinc
Foods high in magnesium include spinach, kale, avocado, bananas, cashews and seeds.
Foods high in zinc include meat, oysters, crab, cheese, cooked lentils and dark chocolate (70%+).