Challenging conventional wisdom, new research suggests that hitting the snooze button does not lead to cognitive impairment on waking and may actually provide cognitive benefits.
Researchers did two studies to determine why intermittent morning alarms are used and how they affect sleep, cognition, minocin or tetracycline cortisol, and mood.
Study 1 was a survey of 1732 healthy adults (mean age 34 years; 66% women) designed to elucidate the characteristics of people who snooze and why they choose to delay their waking in this way.
Study 2 was a within-subject polysomnography study of 31 healthy habitual snoozers (mean age 27 years; 18 women) designed to explore the acute effects of snoozing on sleep architecture, sleepiness, cognitive ability, mood, and cortisol awakening response.
Overall, 69% reported using the snooze button or setting multiple alarms at least sometimes, most often on workdays (71%), with an average snooze time per morning of 22 minutes.
Sleep quality did not differ between snoozers and nonsnoozers, but snoozers were more likely to feel mentally drowsy on waking (odds ratio [OR], 3.0; P < .001) and had slightly shorter sleep time on workdays (13 minutes).
In the polysomnography study, compared with waking up abruptly, 30 minutes of snoozing in the morning improved or did not affect performance on standard cognitive tests completed directly on final awakening.
Snoozing resulted in about 6 minutes of lost sleep, but it prevented awakening from slow-wave sleep and had no clear effects on the cortisol awakening response, morning sleepiness, mood, or overnight sleep architecture.
“The findings indicate that there is no reason to stop snoozing in the morning if you enjoy it, at least not for snooze times around 30 minutes. In fact, it may even help those with morning drowsiness to be slightly more awake once they get up,” corresponding author Tina Sundelin, PhD, of Stockholm University, said in a statement.
The study was published online on October 17 in the Journal of Sleep Research.
Study 1 focused on waking preferences in a convenience sample of adults. Study 2 only included habitual snoozers making it difficult to generalize the findings to people who don’t usually snooze. The study only investigated the effect of 30 minutes of snoozing on the studied parameters. It’s possible that shorter or longer snooze times have different cognitive effects.
Support for the study was provided by the Stress Research Institute, Stockholm University, and a grant from Vetenskapsrådet. The authors disclosed no relevant conflicts of interest.
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