We’ve all heard of those lucky people who wake up to the first chime of their alarm — or no alarm at all — feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
As for the rest of us, we dread the ding and might hit snooze, hoping we’ll feel less tired with a few more precious minutes of sleep. It can easily become a habit to hit snooze every morning, but if you find yourself hitting snooze multiple times every day, it could be a sign you’re dealing with burnout and need to address the underlying causes.
While the thought of catching more ZZZs is tempting, paradoxically, hitting snooze can actually make you feel worse. Here’s why you may be caught in an alarm-snoozing cycle and how to stop hitting snooze every morning.
Why we hit the snooze button
The answer seems obvious: you don’t want to get out of your comfy bed and go to work or deal with the realities and responsibilities of life. But it can also be because it’s become an ingrained habit.
If you look at the snooze process psychologically, you can see that your brain has become wired through repetition to participate in a stimulus/response loop. Your alarm going off is the stimulus, and when you wake up (especially if you still feel tired), you hit snooze as the response. When you do this often enough, it becomes an entrenched habit.
Some people begin hitting it more often, sometimes as much as six, seven, or eight times each morning before finally getting up. When this becomes an everyday occurrence, we at Flourish refer to this as snooze addiction, and we’ve found it can be a signal that there’s something deeper going on. If you’re suffering from burnout, you need to address the underlying issues causing you to want to stay in bed.
How hitting snooze makes us feel worse
So why is hitting snooze a bad thing, other than it can leave us feeling rushed in the morning and possibly late to work or other obligations?
We may hit snooze because we think closing our eyes or staying in bed will help us get more sleep and feel better rested when we do eventually rise. But if you manage to fall back asleep in between the buzzes, you’re getting short bursts of sleep that are constantly interrupted. Adding these small bursts onto your sleep cycle can throw off your body and create sleep inertia, which can make you feel groggy and last several hours into your day.
Plus, according to The Cleveland Clinic, that sleep you get in-between snoozes isn’t restorative sleep, so you’re not actually doing yourself any good. And by repeatedly disrupting the late-stage REM sleep that happens in the morning, you can throw your body into fight-or-flight mode, the clinic says. That’s not a great way to wake up motivated and start the day.
Making yourself get out of bed the first time the alarm goes off, even if you feel like a zombie, can leave you feeling better as the day goes on than if you snoozed and got five more eight-minute mini-naps.
Breaking out of the snooze cycle
We have some good news: Breaking this pattern is easier than you might think. Let’s go back to the stimulus/response cycle, where you wake up and hit the snooze button out of habit.
Here’s our philosophy on how to stop hitting snooze: You have to overload the stimulus/response circuit by inserting something in between the stimulus and response. Your options are endless, though the two activities we’ve found to work best are to drink water or do push-ups.
We believe in the “tiny habits” philosophy of behavioral scientist BJ Fogg, which states that if you want to stick to new habits successfully, you have to start with small, easy steps. In other words, baby steps rather than cold turkey.
Here’s an example of how this could look. You wake up to your alarm, and instead of immediately hitting snooze, you hop up and do one pushup, or you take a gulp of water. In the beginning, you can hit snooze and go back to sleep again if you feel drawn back to bed.
But over time, you begin to increase the size of the activity that you insert between the alarm and snoozing. For example, slowly build from two pushups to five, and eventually 10. Or if you’re using the water method, build up to drinking the entire glass of water, and eventually put the water somewhere out of reach of bed so you have to get up to drink it.
Eventually, you’ll find that doing this activity will leave you feeling awake enough that you’re no longer compelled to hit snooze and get back in bed. It sounds simple, but our team has used both of these strategies successfully — with ourselves and our clients — to end snooze addiction.
There are other tricks you can try, too. The National Sleep Foundation suggests anti-snooze strategies such as putting your alarm far enough away that you have to get out of bed to turn it off, using an alarm that wakes you gradually with light rather than a blaring sound, or waking up at a different time in your sleep cycle to see if you feel more rested. You could also experiment with setting your alarm for 10 or 15 minutes later so you get real sleep during that time rather than interrupted, poor-quality snooze sleep.
Once you’re able to get out of bed after your first alarm bell rings and start your morning without hitting snooze, you’ll start the day feeling less frazzled and rushed. You’ll likely also feel more rested as the day goes on since you didn’t have an interrupted sleep cycle and the foggy feeling that comes with it.
In some cases, ending the snooze addiction may feel impossible. Or perhaps you’re able to wean yourself from snoozing but still awake feeling depleted and dreading work. If this sounds familiar, it’s likely that mere sleepiness isn’t the source of your snooze issues and you might be suffering from burnout.
At Flourish, we define burnout as a form of chronic emotional exhaustion that leaves you feeling drained and overwhelmed by daily life. It can happen as a result of overworking, an unhealthy relationship with your work or a lack of boundaries, a toxic work environment, unfulfilling work, among other causes. But this chronic stress can manifest mentally, emotionally, and physically, causing constant exhaustion and — you guessed it — a propensity to hit snooze multiple times each morning.