Your sleep schedule, morning routine, and the way you wake up sets the tone for your entire day. Your circadian rhythm, also known as your body's internal clock, is responsible for the quality and quantity of sleep you get. It's also extremely sensitive to changes in your routine or restfulness as you wake. That's why the unhealthiest thing you can do, long-term, is hitting the snooze button on your alarm in the morning—it can negatively impact your circadian rhythm and throw off your entire day. "An irregular circadian rhythm can have a negative effect on a person's ability to sleep and function properly," according to Harvard Health. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Signs Your Illness is Actually Coronavirus in Disguise.
You Snooze, You Lose
"No matter how bad your sleep was on a particular night, you must still get up at the same time every morning," Deirdre McSwiney, sleep technician and cognitive behavior therapist for Insomnia, told The Hard Shoulder. "This business of lying in or having the luxury of pushing that snooze button—which I think was the worst invention ever—is not good for you."
Most alarm clocks or smartphones default snoozing time to nine minutes. It isn't clear why early alarm clock manufacturers chose this as the perfect snooze increment, but it's remained the standard to this day. Wasting an extra nine minutes on a snooze may not seem harmless but it can have detrimental effects on the quality of your sleep.
How To Wake Up Efficiently
To wake up efficiently and "on the right side of the bed," you must get up at the end of your REM cycle, according to Amerisleep. REM stands for rapid eye movement and it's what occurs when you're in a deep sleep. Your body is restoring but your brain is actively awake, so it's important that you only wake up at the end of the cycle to feel adequately rested.
When you smack the snooze button, you give yourself about nine minutes to fall back into a REM cycle. "One of the most critical factors is the sleep stage prior to awakening," according to a study published in Sleep Medicine Reviews. When your snooze alarm goes off, it's possible that you'll be right in the middle of that REM cycle. This means you won't get any sound or restorative sleep during your snooze period. Keep reading to see if you might have a sleep disorder.
Sign You May Suffer From Sleep Disorder
To ensure you're waking up at a good point in your REM cycle, say goodbye to your snooze button. "Facing into morning light is what gives that deep trigger into the brain that your sleep-wake cycle is pivoting correctly," says McSwiney. If popping out of bed when the alarm sounds seems impossible, it's time to reevaluate your sleeping habits.
If you rely heavily on a few snooze cycles every morning, it may mean you're suffering from a sleep disorder or simply not getting enough high-quality sleep. "Make sure you're getting seven to eight hours of sufficient sleep and good quality sleep," says Dr. Reena Mehra, M.D., M.S. from the Cleveland Clinic.
Why Does it Matter?
"Much of the latter part of our sleep cycle is comprised of REM sleep, or dream sleep, which is a restorative sleep state," Dr. Mehra explains. "And so, if you're hitting the snooze button, then you're disrupting that REM sleep."
If you know you're clocking in at seven to eight hours of good sleep but you're still addicted to the snooze button, Dr. Mehra suggests seeing a physician to evaluate your health. You may have an underlying sleep disorder that needs to be addressed.
Dedicate the time and discipline to avoiding the snooze and eventually, you'll pop out of bed when the alarm sounds. While it's a tough habit to break, once you stop relying on those extra nine minutes, you may find yourself feeling more refreshed and in a better mood after waking up. Getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night also strengthens your immune system. Revise your morning routine to ensure you get up on the right side of the bed and set yourself up for a great day by avoiding these five things you should never do when you first wake up.
Do You Sleep Stay Curled in a Ball?
If your sleeping habits include curling into a tight little ball, be sure you stretch out wide as soon as you wake up. If you stay in the fetal position after waking up or remain in your tightly curled ball, you could be setting yourself up for an unsuccessful day.
A study conducted by Dr. Amy J.C. Cuddy, P.H.D, from Harvard concluded that people who slept curled up and remained in this position after waking had lower confidence levels. "If you wake up in a fetal position, you're waking up on the wrong side of the bed," Dr. Cuddy says. Set your day up for success by stretching out wide and tall as soon as your eyes open.
Don't Check Your Emails First Thing
Sleep Advisor polled 1,000 Americans and found that 17% of them check their email on their smartphone first thing in the morning. While it may feel like you're getting a jump on your day by grabbing your smartphone, it can actually be detrimental to your happiness and may raise your stress level.
A study conducted by the University of British Columbia limited 124 professionals to only checking their email and smartphone notifications sparingly. When study participants got used to this new email checking schedule, they reported feeling less stressed and more in control of their day. Even if your first thought is all the emails you've missed as your eyes flutter open, give yourself time to wake up before checking your phone.
ChugWait to Chug Coffee
For many, coffee is the motivator to get out of bed in the first place. But if you're an early riser, it may be best for you to wait before you brew a pot of joe. The caffeine in your favorite morning beverage is known to interfere with your body's cortisol production. With caffeine in your system, your body may produce less cortisol, a hormone that's released as a stress response and when your blood glucose levels dip.
Your body naturally experiences three spikes in cortisol each day, according to a study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Drinking coffee before 10 a.m. could make the caffeine ineffective and mess with your body's cortisol production. It's best to wait for that first sip until after the early morning hours.
Don't Stay in Bed Too Long
Your bed should be your sanctuary, dedicated only to sleep. If you wake up in the morning and hang out in bed for a while, you could be confusing the connection your brain has to your bed. "As soon as you wake up after a night of sleep, you should get out of bed. If you lie awake in bed, your brain links being awake to being in bed," according to Professor Matthew Walker from University of California Berkeley.
When you lay in bed, you may find it harder to fall asleep in the future. If you still feel like lounging after you wake up, relocate to your favorite chair or the couch. This ensures your brain still connects your bed solely to sleep. As for yourself, follow these sleep tips so you can keep your immune system strong, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.