You Snooze, You Lose: Why Hitting the Snooze Button Can Derail Your Entire Day


You hear your alarm go off at 6:30 A.M., and you groggily tap the snooze button, sinking back into the fluffy, cotton covers. Encased in the blankets like a wool burrito, you drift off into a delicious few minutes of sleep, savoring every second. The next time you're awakened by the ringer, however, you don't feel more rested. Instead, you're more dazed and drowsy than ever. What happened? Do you need to hit the “snooze" button again?

Contrary to conventional wisdom, hitting that tempting option on your phone doesn't lead to a more rested state. Research has shown that snoozing actually causes sleep inertia – a physiological state of impaired cognitive and motor performance that is present immediately after awakening. There are a few reasons for poorer functioning caused from pressing that button, ranging from the physiological to the psychological.

Interrupting the Sleep Cycle

Throughout a night of sleep, a person typically progresses through a series of four to five sleep cycles. Each sleep cycle consists of four stages, including one REM stage and three non-REM stages. When you awake, hit the snooze button, then fall back to sleep, you're more likely to fall back into the beginning of a sleep cycle. This translates into the production of hormones that encourage deep sleep.

This means that you're starting to dip into a deep slumber, only to be rudely awoken by the alarm ten minutes later. According to psychologist Maria Konnikova, the beginning of a sleep cycle “is the worst point to be woken up," resulting in us feeling like we slept poorly.

There's another piece of useful information that can be drawn from the sleep cycle. If you often find yourself waking up feeling groggy, the trouble may be that you're waking up at the wrong part of your sleep cycle. To remedy this, try setting your alarm a few minutes later, or a few minutes earlier. Trial and error will help you find your sweet spot, and once you do, stick to a regular sleep schedule.

Our Brains Become Confused

On a behavioral level, hitting the snooze button bewilders our minds. Psychology professor and behavioral economist Dan Ariely posits that by hitting snooze, we're training our minds to be confused by the alarm sound. Our minds like consistency, and when we press that button, instead of recognizing the alarm sound as the cue to “get out of bed," it becomes the tone for “let's sleep for a few minutes more." This of course means that each time you hear your alarm go off, your brain will expect to get “just a few more" minutes of sleep, making you never want to step out of bed.

The more you snooze, the more confused your body and brain will get, which means you'll feel more out of it when you actually wake up, even though you got more sleep. Furthermore, this type of grogginess and sleep inertia can last for up to two to four hours, leaving you feeling unproductive even after you've showered, breakfasted, and gone into the office.

Throwing off Your Sleep Schedule

By pressing that alluring button, you're changing the times you get up every day. On Monday, you may awake at 7:00 AM, but on Tuesday, you may press the snooze button three times, leaving your bed at 7:30 AM. This inconsistency throws off your internal clock, and may mean that your body won't know when to start feeling sleepy. You'll likely start going to sleep later, resulting in more sleep deprivation.

Getting a full night of peaceful, uninterrupted sleep is extremely important and beneficial, both to health and wellbeing. Not getting enough sleep results in fatigue, which has been linked to poorer and riskier decision making. Dr. Timothy Roehrs, the Director of research at the Sleep Disorders Research Center, found in a study that the sleepy subjects made riskier decisions that put them at risk of losing money, while the alert subjects made more prudent choices.

So What is a Person to do?

The best way to counter this problem is to set your alarm for the time you have to get up, and then to actually get up when it goes off. It will help to set it for the same time every day, for your body to establish an internal schedule. Do this for a prolonged period of time, and the consistency will ensure that you'll feel naturally sleepy at the end of the day, meaning you'll be sleeping at your bedtime when your body needs it. This in turn will make it more likely for you to wake up naturally, unprompted by an alarm (and of course, no snooze button!).


A Modern Day Witch Hunt: How Caster Semenya's Gender Became A Hot Topic In The Media

Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.

Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.

That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.

Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.

Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.

Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.

With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.

The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.

Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.

As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.

Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.