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Hitting Snooze Probably Isn’t Getting You More Rest—Here’s Why

By Erica Patino
Reviewed by Samantha Domingo, Psy.D.
January 22, 2024

When your alarm clock goes off in the morning, it can be tempting to hit the snooze button a time or three. After all, who doesn’t want to get a little more sleep?

But if you find yourself hitting snooze repeatedly every day, that type of short, fragmented rest isn't the type of sleep you need to wake up feeling good. “The few extra minutes in bed rarely lead to deep sleep that our bodies find to be refreshing. Unfortunately, we get very light sleep at most, and this does not feel as restorative to us," says Camilo Ruiz, D.O., board-certified internist, sleep specialist, and medical director of Sleep and Internal Medicine Specialists, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

What’s more, you may be hitting the snooze button in the morning because you aren’t getting enough rest in general, says Jennifer Martin, Ph.D., president of the board of directors of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Most people are snoozing because they didn’t get the sleep they need the night before, and they don’t feel ready to wake up when their alarm goes off.”

That is, hitting snooze won’t solve the problem of not getting enough quality sleep—but there are other things you can do to wake up feeling well rested.

Sleep Cycles and Your Snooze Button

When you sleep at night, your body goes through several cycles of sleep lasting about 90 minutes each. Each cycle is made up of four stages.

  • Stage 1: the lightest stage of sleep, in which you’re semiconscious and may be easily awakened
  • Stage 2: a light phase of sleep in which heart rate and breathing rate slow and body temperature drops
  • Stage 3: a deep-sleep restorative phase that can help you feel refreshed when you wake up
  • Stage 4: rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, when you may have vivid dreams

Sleep Stages 3 and 4 are considered the deepest and most restorative, but they occur later in the sleep cycle. When you hit the snooze button and drift back to sleep for periods of 10 minutes or so, you don’t have enough time to get into these restorative sleep cycles. So, while you may be getting an extra 20 or 30 minutes of sleep, technically, it’s not really the kind of rest that makes you feel refreshed.

Fragmented sleep does more than leave you feeling unrested. Over time, it may harm your body, too. “Fragmented sleep can be associated with increased cardiovascular risks, such as high blood pressure, heart attacks, and stroke,” Ruiz says.

That said, Martin says it’s not the end of the world if you hit snooze once a day from time to time: “Everyone gets one free pass here.”

How to Wake Up Feeling More Refreshed

To feel awake and refreshed in the morning and avoid hitting the snooze button on repeat, consider these tips.

  1. Keep to a regular sleep schedule. Your body thrives on routine. Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time each morning, even on days off work. This habit can help you wake up more easily. Most adults should get seven to nine hours of sleep per night—if you’re not able to sleep in later in the morning to get this amount of rest, consider going to bed earlier at night, Martin suggests.
  2. Set your alarm for later. For example, if you’ve been setting your alarm for 6 a.m. and snoozing until 6:30, try setting your alarm for 6:20 instead and then getting out of bed at 6:30, suggests Martin. “You will actually get more sleep and still start your day at the same time,” she says.
  3. Get regular exercise. Getting adequate physical activity can lead to better, more restorative sleep at night, Ruiz says. Thirty minutes of moderate aerobic activity during the day may be enough to improve sleep quality, which may make it easier to get up with your first alarm.
  4. Let some light in. “When you wake up in the morning, exposing yourself to light within a few minutes can help you feel alert more quickly,” Martin says. “Open the blinds, go outside (weather permitting), or sit in a bright area of your home.”

With a little planning, you can start getting more restful sleep—and cut back on hitting snooze. If you still feel like you’re not getting sufficient sleep, it may be worth a conversation with your primary care provider. They can help determine whether there are other possible reasons you’re not waking up feeling well rested.

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