Don’t just take our word for it, though. We asked 2 sleep experts to delve into the science-y bits behind it and share their tips on how to ditch the pesky snooze alarm. Over to neuroscientist Matt Janes and psychologist Michael Banissy on this one.
alarm, shock, horror
If you wake up feeling like you need a sneaky extra 5 minutes of kip, Matt says that hitting the snooze button is not the answer: “Repeatedly hitting the snooze button compounds the amount of stress you’re put under each day as your sympathetic nervous system is shocked into action every 9 minutes. And that has a cumulative effect on your mental health over the course of the days, months and years.”And that’s not all. Our super important skills like attention and memory are affected, too: “The benefits of good quality sleep on our mental abilities are widespread,” says Michael. “Reductions in a variety of skills from poor sleep have been reported, including attention, general alertness and short-term memory. And there is a risk that these drops in performance could be made worse by snoozing.”
He adds, “When we sleep we move between different sleep cycles. Different things can occur depending on the phase of sleep where we wake up. For instance, when we wake up in an early phase of sleep known as non-REM sleep, there is an increased risk of experiencing grogginess afterwards, which has been linked with reduced mental performance.”
The key lesson here? You snooze you lose. So here’s what our experts recommend to make sure you wake up feeling fresh and have a sprightly start to the day.
cram in those zzz’s
Turns out beating the snooze button could be as simple as making sure you get enough sleep every night. Don’t eyeroll us just yet, though. If you’ve tried every method under the sun to nail your sleep but can’t quite seem to hack it, our routine calculator could help you plan your days to give you the best possible kip and brighter starts.“Try to have 8 hours of good sleep,” Matt says. “Ideally, we’d all wake up naturally without an alarm. But if you need to use one, don’t hit snooze. It’ll only increase the load on your system.”
How you start your day after you wake up is just as important: “When you wake up, try to resist any habits that might set your brain whirring or cause you stress. So that means not checking your phone for new emails, messages and alerts. Seeing an overloaded inbox can further stress out your nervous system,” adds Matt.
munch those leafy greens
Fun fact: certain foods can impact the way we sleep. So eating snooze-loving foods that help our bodies to relax and wind down for sleep could just be the ticket to skipping the snooze button the next morning.
Matt says: “Leafy greens block the sympathetic system due to their magnesium content. So, if you’re feeling anxious, stressed or agitated, load your plate with broccoli, cabbage and kale.”
If you’re not keen on greens (no judging), here’s another way to wake up supercharged: “You can achieve the same effect with food supplements. For example, supplemental magnesium inhibits the sympathetic nerves and potassium boosts the parasympathetic system (also known as our ‘rest and digest’ state), so using these two supplements together can help you to find balance,” says Matt.
According to Michael, exercise is a great way to tire your body out for sleep. Making it another great way to get rid of the need for that snooze button. But he recommends being mindful about when you exercise: “Exercise promotes restful sleep, but it’s important to be careful about when we exercise. Exercise can have a short-term outcome of increasing alertness, so while exercise is good overall we need to be careful about engaging in exercise too close to bedtime.”
To soothe and unwind before bed, he recommends calming types of activity like walking or stretching: “Exercise stimulates the sympathetic nerves, whereas yoga and meditation stimulate the parasympathetic nerves, so they are good for those who want something a bit more relaxing,” Matt says. Looking for some more wind-down tips? Check out 7 things to do when you’re feeling frazzled or how to clear a busy head before bed. And before you know it, that snooze button grogginess will be a thing of the past. Ahhh.