A man reaching for the alarm clockBy the time the sounds of night and day cross paths of one another, I am well into my morning activities. In other words, I get up pretty friggin’ early. In fact, I’m usually writing by 4:30 a.m.

I used to coax myself awake starting as early as 3:30 in the morning, however. I would silence 3 or 4—sometimes even 5—preset alarms before I would pull myself out of bed. One morning, everything changed because I was given an ultimatum. My usually kind and tolerant husband told me that all my early morning (he actually said “middle of the night”) sound effects messed with his sleep. Such a hothouse flower, that one. He declared, “You’re going to need to pick between marital bliss and your snooze alarms.”

Man. I loved my snooze alarms! I loved that time between buzz and beeps when dreams bloomed full spectrum and how the bedding felt especially perfect right after I took another swipe at the snooze alarm. Darn that selfish Matthew for wanting to take these joys away from me.

I briefly considered trying to find a silent snooze alarm that shakes your pillow and doesn’t make noise. I didn’t think I wanted some electronic thingie under my head all night, though. Besides, with my luck, it would also shake awake my handsome princess and the pea sleeping next to me. So marital bliss, in the end, won out.

I Heard You the First Time

Thank goodness marital bliss won out! Ever since I agreed to no more snooze alarms, I have had more energy and pep than I’ve had in years! Honest to Gawd! You may think it’s because of all the marital bliss I’m having, but it’s not that. I mean, a happy marriage does bring sunshine to the day, if you know what I mean, but that’s not what has been putting the extra skip in my step. And this is the part that I’m excited to tell you about.

I have more energy simply because I refused to snooze. Just by getting up when the first (and now only) alarm goes off, I have boosted my energy level. It is THAT easy! This approach also is way cheaper than the sublingual B-12 supplements and the daily afternoon Grande Americano that I sometimes used for pick-me-ups when I was still snoozing. While anecdotes are not evidence, good sleep science supports refusing to snooze.

Scientists Skip the Snooze

If you’ve been dragging your tail for a long time and you are guilty of hitting the snooze, listen up. Yizhak Kupfer, Assistant Director of Critical Care and Pulmonary Medicine at Maimonides Medical Center, says, “Over the course of a night, a person goes through five shifting stages of sleep. The brain constantly goes through these stages, emitting different brain waves that reflect if a person is experiencing lighter or deeper periods of sleep.”

Robert S. Rosenberg, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Centers of Prescott Valley and Flagstaff, Arizona, describes what happens when you choose to snooze: “When you hit the snooze button repeatedly, you’re doing two negative things to yourself. First, you’re fragmenting what little extra sleep you’re getting, so it is of poor quality. Second, you’re starting to put yourself through a new sleep cycle that you aren’t giving yourself enough time to finish. This can result in persistent grogginess throughout the day.” *

When I interviewed nursing sleep specialist Patti Cantillo Kodzis, she made a similar argument when we discussed power naps for my medical student clients. She said, “Unless you can go through the whole sleep cycle and sleep for at least 45 minutes to an hour, it’s probably not worth napping.” If you have to cut the sleep cycle off, you likely will not feel any more rested and might even feel worse.

You Snooze, You Lose

If you’re always tired, ditch the snooze. I did it and the difference has truly been noticeable. I have more energy in the first part of my day, but I also find that my dips are lessened during my lowest energy times of day. I also feel less tired in general, even when I have a night of shortened or poor sleep.

In the next piece, I’ll round out this post by talking about sleep hygiene: Good sleep habits that will help you sleep better and feel more rested during your waking hours. Also, I’ll introduce you to a wake-up light you’ll want to add to your wish list.

*Originally published at upwave.com