What does the snooze button do?
It’s estimated that at least 58% of the UK population under the age of 35 hit the snooze button at least once in the morning, with 25% using it a whopping three times!1 This would seem to imply that, as a nation, we enjoy our sleep but in actual fact, according to the Great British Bedtime Report, over a third of Britons sleep for just 5-6 hours a night.2 No wonder we all rely on alarms so much!
While setting an alarm in an intrinsic part of most of our sleep routines, hitting the snooze button first thing in the morning has long been associated with a list of unhappy side-effects.
The problem is that an alarm can easily wake you up in the middle of a sleep cycle. On average, a sleep cycle should last for around 90 minutes, during which you will move through five stages of sleep, of which the first four are non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. Your final stage of sleep, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is the phase in which your mind is most active and you most likely dream.
If you are woken up in the middle of a REM sleep phase and hit the snooze button, a number of things can happen. Firstly, since REM sleep is the last stage of your sleep cycle, you will be more inclined enter a new sleep cycle when your head hits the pillow, especially if you’re already sleep deprived.
This means that the next time your alarm wakes you up, you will be roused from a deeper phase of sleep, the worst time to be woken up! As a result, you will probably feel groggy and drowsy for most of your morning.
The other worry with hitting the snooze button is that it defeats the purpose of setting an alarm. You’re trying to train your body to recognise your alarm and be aware that it’s time to get up, then you keep hitting snooze. This means that your body starts to disassociate your alarm with actually waking up, making you feel even more sluggish and sleepy when it actually goes off!
Finally, some sleep experts have even dubbed an alarm as ‘cardiovascular assault.’ This is because, when you are in a deep phase of sleep, your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing naturally decrease, sometimes by as much as two thirds of when you are awake. When your alarm goes off it will immediately trigger a surge of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenalin, rapidly increasing your heart rate and blood pressure.
While this surge can be useful for waking you up, this sort of rush can take place multiple times depending on how many times you hit snooze, which may eventually have an effect on your cardiac health!3 That’s why, instead of relying on your snooze button, I’m going to go into a bit of detail about the natural ways you can feel more refreshed in the morning without having to feel like you need to steal an extra 9 minutes of sleep!
My top 6 tips to feel more refreshed in the morning!
1 – Don’t ignore your alarm
If you really have to set an alarm, make sure that you don’t ignore it in the morning. I’ve spoken about a few of the key reasons already; you won’t wake up feeling more refreshed, you may end up feeling groggier and it could potentially upset your cardiovascular health. Instead, no matter how much your sleep deprived mind might cry, force yourself to get up and out of bed!
2 – Let in the light
Just as your body relies on the setting sun to stimulate your production of melatonin, so to your body can make use of sunlight to kick-start your production of cortisol, encouraging you to feel more awake and alert. That’s why I’d recommend opening your curtains as soon as you get out of bed – while you may stand there blinking and squinting for a few moments, after a couple of minutes you may find that you feel a little more roused and awake.
Recently, another trend is growing that we heartily approve of here at A.Vogel – light alarm clocks. Instead of being rudely awoken by a screaming ringtone, you can be gently roused by a gradual increase in light over around 30 minutes. A nicer alternative that shouldn’t upset your sleep cycles!
3 – Drink some water
You might crave a cup of caffeinated tea or coffee when you first get up, but your body is definitely cravings something else. The chances are it’s been over eight hours since you last had any proper fluids which means that your body could be becoming dehydrated. Dehydration can increase feelings of daytime fatigue, not to mention it can also promote hunger cravings.
Most experts seem to agree that drinking a nice big glass of water on an empty stomach is a great way to start your day – it can help to improve your metabolism, flush toxins out of your body and even reduce cravings! The benefits really are endless! If you’re not a fan of plain water, you could try infusing it with a little fruit or heat up your water and take it with a slice of lemon for an extra detox!
4 – Do some gentle exercise
You’re hydrated and you’ve managed to get some sunlight, so what now? Well, if you’ve got time on your hands, you could try doing some light exercise. It doesn’t have to be too intense – not many of us have the time on a week day to hit the gym before work – but you could try a few simple exercises at home.
According to the Huffington Post, exercising in the morning can give you an extra burst of energy, encouraging the release of endorphins, happy hormones, as well as increasing your mental clarity! Exercising on an empty stomach can also promote your metabolism, helping you to burn more fat whilst also supporting your sleep patterns – win-win!4 As I mentioned, start simple – you can check out our get active videos here for some inspiration!
5 – Practice some deep breathing
If you wake up feeling groggy, sometimes taking a few minutes to practice some deep breathing techniques can help to improve your mental clarity. Mindfulness is a form of meditation that focuses on the breath and observing your thoughts, helping to relieve stress and anxiety.
It has a number of benefits for your sleep patterns too, which I explore in ‘Is mindfulness the answer to a good night’s sleep?’ as well as promoting positivity. This particular form can be useful for relieving any tension you’ve been carrying with you overnight and setting you up for a productive day!
6 – Don’t skip breakfast
Breakfast might be the most important meal of the day but for most of us it’s a rushed affair, crammed in somewhere between commuting to work and making sure everyone else is ready! However, rushing this meal can mean that you miss out on a vital source of energy!
Breakfast can help to rebalance your glucose levels and improve your cognitive function, making it easier for you to concentrate as well as lowering your stress levels!5 Not to mention, having a good balance of complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats can help to keep you fuller for longer, preventing any potential snacking.
If you’re looking for some simple, easy and effective breakfast options, please check out some of my favourite breakfast recipes below!
Cashew & Banana Smoothie
Spiced Porridge Two Ways
Coffee Chia Pudding