Most of us will experience poor sleep at some point but there are many who struggle with getting adequate sleep regularly. There are some habits that seem OK to ensure more sleep but they could be harming you.
There are 4 stages of a sleep cycle.
- The first stage is the non rapid eye movement stage 1, which is the transition between sleep and being awake, it lasts for about 5-10 minutes.
- Stage 2 is non rapid eye movement stage 2, which is when your body temperature starts to drop, the heart rate begins to slow. This stage lasts approximately 20 minutes.
- Non rapid eye movement stage 3 the muscles start to relax, the blood pressure, and heart rate drop and the deepest part of your sleep occurs.
- The fourth stage is REM, rapid eye movement, sleep or active sleep. This is when the brain becomes more active, you dream, your body is relaxed but your eyes are moving rapidly. REM sleep starts usually 90 minutes after the sleep cycle occurs and lasts about 10 minutes.
You may have 4-5 sleep cycles per night. When your REM sleep stage is complete your body will automatically start a new sleep cycle back starting at non rapid eye movement stage 2.
Hitting The Snooze Doesn’t Help
In a study that was done it showed that 1 out of every 3 adults hit their snooze button 3 times every morning before getting out of bed.
In the same study, half the adults that aged in their 20’s and 30’s hit the snooze button at least once every morning.
Though some people think it is beneficial to hit the snooze button to get a bit more rest before getting out of bed, that may not be completely true. The negatives of hitting the snooze button may be greater.
When your alarm goes off in the morning chances are you are at the end of a REM sleep cycle. So it is a more natural time for your body to transition out of sleep and into wakefulness. When you hit the snooze button and fall back to sleep you fall back into a REM cycle but at the beginning of it.
When your alarm goes off again you are now waking up at either the beginning or the middle of your REM sleep cycle which can cause you to feel groggy and disoriented.
This fragmented sleep is poor quality. Poor quality sleep may cause you to feel less rested.
Disrupted sleep cycles put you at higher risks for pain, inflammation, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
Hitting your snooze button can also throw off your body’s circadian rhythm.
It can confuse your body to know when it is time to sleep and when to wake up. One week of poor sleep can cause heightened stress, lowered immunity, and increased inflammation.
Oversleeping can also occur when you hit the snooze button one too many times. Oversleeping can cause you to feel more tired throughout your day.
If you have an alarm that wakes you up with a loud noise it can trigger the fight or flight system in your body. This fight or flight system elevates your heart rate, and your blood pressure quickly.
Snoozing your alarm can cause your body to be jolted awake multiple times, putting your body in heightened awareness when you are sleeping which can cause you to not be in a full deep sleep.
In a study it showed that people who snoozed their alarms had a heart rate that was 2 more beats per second than a person who woke up with their first alarm. This can cause more stress to be on your heart, making it work harder at night than waking up with your first alarm.
Improve Your Night Time Routine
If you are struggling with hitting the snooze button then you may want to take a look at your sleep. Are you going to bed early enough? You should aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. If your alarm goes off at 7am, then the latest you should be up at night is midnight.
It is also important to try to go to sleep at the same time every night. Just as important is to wake up at the same time every day. This helps your body stay on a good sleep cycle.
When going to bed, make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool.
Try to avoid napping, caffeine, alcohol, and screens close to bedtime.
Giving yourself time to wind down before bed is important, yoga, reading, or meditation can all be good ways to do that.
When setting your alarm for the morning, set it for a realistic time. Setting it too early can make you think you have time to snooze. Setting it with no flex time built in will make you more accountable to get up on time.
When your alarm goes off, sit up immediately. That change in posture will help your body wake up. If you need to move the alarm across the room out of arm’s reach. This will make you have to physically get up to turn it off, which can also help your body wake up.
As soon as you are up, turn on a light. This can be a lamp, or opening the curtains if the sun is up. This exposure to light stops the body from producing melatonin which is a chemical in your body that helps you sleep.
Though it may be tempting to hit your alarm in the morning. The fragmented sleep you are getting in those few minutes between alarms is fragments and poor quality. It only takes one week for side effects of poor quality sleep to take effect. Evaluating how much sleep you are getting and popping out of bed at the first alarm can actually help your sleep cycle be better quality.
READ MORE: Melatonin The Sleep Hormone
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