Psychologist Maria Konnikova declares in The New Yorker today that "snoozers are, in fact, losers." She's talking about the large percentage of modern sleepers who rely on the snooze button to (very slowly) rouse themselves out of bed in the morning. While I'm convinced by the science behind her argument is probably correct (science is usually right!), I'm not convinced I'll change my snoozin' ways. A life without a snooze button just isn't worth living.
Like a lot of people who have get up early for work or school, I hit snooze four or five times each morning. Basically, I just listen to the mellifluous sounds of an iPhone for 45 minutes while staying under the covers. By the third snooze, I check the weather and mentally pick out my outfit before rolling over one more time. I'm also not the only who behaves this way.
According to Konnikova's beloved science, however, our frequent snoozing might just us put us to sleep... permanently. Drawing out the process of waking up doesn't make you more rested, and it might be bad for your brain:
It may seem like you’re giving yourself a few extra minutes to collect your thoughts. But what you’re actually doing is making the wake-up process more difficult and drawn out. If you manage to drift off again, you are likely plunging your brain back into the beginning of the sleep cycle, which is the worst point to be woken up — and the harder we feel it is for us to wake up, the worse we think we’ve slept.
So waking up is hard to do and snoozing makes it harder, not easier.
But snoozing, it seems, is just a band-aid for the problem of "social jetlag." According to Konnikova, social jetlag is "the difference between one’s actual, socially mandated wake-up time and one’s natural, biologically optimal wake-up time." Everyone except college students and babies suffer from it. Social jetlag does all kinds of fun things like increase your risk for obesity and drive you to drink and smoke. People who suffer from severe social jetlag (like night-shift workers) "often suffer higher-than-normal rates of cancer, potentially fatal heart conditions, and other chronic disease, like metabolic syndrome and diabetes."
So really, it's our work schedules that are killing us, not our snooze buttons.
Yes, Konnikova argues that the snooze button just makes it harder for our brains to cope with unreasonable wake-up times. But I have to disagree. The snooze button doesn't make it harder for me to wake up, it makes it possible for me to wake up. If I don't hit the snooze, I'll groggily turn off my alarm, oversleep completely, and show up to work at noon. I need that 45 minutes of duh duh DUH duh DUH duh duh to remember I'm human. And since Konnikova doesn't offer any cures for this problem besides "get out of bed," I think I'll stick with my routine. At least until I decide to give everything up, live off the land, and wake with the sun each morning.
Sadly, that puts me in the same camp as this unhealthy loser.
Photo by Ana Blazic Pavlovic via Shutterstock.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.