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A woman snoozing her alarm on her phone as she lies in bed.

sigridgombert / RooM via Getty Images

Is Snoozing Your Alarm Healthy or Harmful?

Keep these pros and cons in mind before hitting the snooze button.

By Jessie Van AmburgJanuary 10, 2024


Generally speaking, there are two kinds of people in this world: People who can get up right away as soon as their alarm goes off, and people who need at least one more snooze (if not more) before they can drag themselves out of bed. I firmly fall into the latter camp, and I’m not alone: Research estimates that a majority of Americans snooze on the reg.  

I’ve always felt a little bit ashamed every time I hit the snooze button on my phone alarm. Why couldn’t I just get up? What was I really getting out of those extra nine to 10 minutes of sleep, anyway? And as a health reporter, I’ve always known that sleep doctors tend to frown on the practice. But I, like many others, haven’t ever understood exactly why that is. That’s why we spoke with top sleep experts to unpack whether snoozing is healthy or harmful once and for all. 

What Is Snoozing?

As its name suggests, snoozing is the practice of waking up in the morning (typically when prompted by your alarm), then falling back asleep for a little bit, then waking up again. As good as it may feel in the moment, it’s typically considered a bad habit by most sleep experts. 

“Snoozing in general is unlikely to be beneficial for most people,” says Sarah Silverman, PsyD, a behavioral sleep medicine specialist. 

In fact, regularly snoozing might hint at underlying sleep issues, says Shelby Harris, PsyD, director of sleep health at Sleepopolis. “Repeatedly hitting the snooze button might indicate that you have insufficient sleep, disrupted sleep cycles, or an irregular sleep routine,” she says. Silverman agrees, adding that people who frequently snooze might also have “circadian misalignment” (meaning they wake up earlier than their body wants to due to work, school, or other responsibilities). 

As mentioned earlier, snoozing is fairly common. But some people are potentially more predisposed to snoozing: “I tend to see snoozing more commonly in younger adults and biological night owls or evening types,” Silverman says.

Potential Drawbacks of Snoozing

Let’s get something important out of the way: There isn’t a ton of high-quality research on snoozing, and what is out there is kind of a mixed bag. (Some studies suggest it’s harmful, while others find it’s no big deal.) 

Generally, sleep experts like Silverman and Harris aren’t huge fans of the practice. “Establishing a regular sleep schedule and maintaining good sleep habits usually provides you with way more substantial benefits for overall sleep quality and health [than snoozing],” Harris says. 

Here are a few reasons why experts don’t love snoozing:

1. Snoozing May Mess with Your Natural Sleep Cycle 

Your sleep cycle has four stages: NREM1 (right after you first fall asleep), NREM2 (light sleep in which brain activity slows down), NREM3 (also known as slow-wave sleep, which is deep and restorative), and REM (which involves lots of brain activity and dreaming). You usually go through four to six of these cycles in a night until you wake up. But if you go back to sleep after waking up, only to make yourself wake up again soon after, you only allow your body to go through a tiny portion of its natural sleep cycle. That disruption can cause grogginess and reduce sleep quality, Harris says. Speaking of grogginess…

2. Snoozing Can Make You Super Groggy

A 2022 study in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology found that university students who used a snooze alarm dealt with sleep inertia (that groggy, slow-brain feeling when you first wake up) for longer periods than those who didn’t, “possibly because snooze alarms induce repeated forced awakenings,” the study notes. That’s why snoozing can often make you feel “more tired than if you got up the first time,” Harris says.

3. Snoozing Isn’t Typically Very Restful 

Those extra 10 (or 20… or 30) minutes of sleep you may get from snoozing likely aren’t particularly high-quality, Silverman says. (After all, there’s not much time to get back into deep, restful sleep—which typically takes at least 30 minutes to reach—if your alarm is jolting you awake every 10 minutes.) 

4. Snoozing Might Make You Sleepy Later in the Day

Silverman says snoozing regularly, especially if you do so for more than 30 minutes, might also make you feel exhausted during the day—again due to the disrupted sleep situation. 

5. Snoozing Might Mask an Underlying Sleep Condition

Snoozing might seem trivial and harmless, but if you have to do it all the time because you’re just so dang tired and can’t fully wake up, there could be something else going on. “In my experience, if you’re snoozing multiple alarms for more than 30 minutes on a regular basis, it’s likely a sign that you’re not getting enough sleep or may have an underlying sleep disorder that warrants a sleep evaluation,” Silverman says.

A man snoozing his alarm clock.

Riska / E+ via Getty Images

Potential Benefits of Snoozing

Despite snoozing’s drawbacks, some recent studies have started to paint a different picture of snoozing. Here are two potential upsides of the practice: 

1. Snoozing Might Help You Wake Up from Deep Sleep 

If your alarm happens to go off while you’re in a deeper sleep cycle phase, then snoozing might make waking up a bit less harsh, Silverman says. “Snoozing may be helpful to allow for a slow transition into the lighter stages of sleep, which may make it a little bit easier to wake up or reduce the effects of sleep inertia, depending on the individual,” she says. 

But don’t snooze for longer than 30 minutes, she advises. And tread with caution, as snoozing after waking from deep sleep could actually make some people feel worse—more on that later.

2. Snoozing Might Boost Morning Brain Function

A new study published in the Journal of Sleep Research found that snoozing for 30 minutes in the morning improved (or at least didn’t affect) cognitive function right after waking up, among people who regularly snooze. But those effects generally tapered off after about 40 minutes and didn’t persist into the afternoon. Another study from 2022 published in the journal Sleep found preliminary evidence that snoozing isn’t associated with decreased sleep duration, increased sleepiness, or more naps—but the study notes that more research is needed.

Does Snoozing Impact Everyone Differently?

Based on the above, you might find the pros and cons of snoozing a little contradictory. (It can make you groggy…but also make you not groggy?) What gives?

A big reason behind this is that many individual differences affect how you’ll respond to snoozing, Harris says. “People can react differently to snoozing based on their unique sleep needs, sensitivity to sleep disruptions, circadian rhythms, and tolerance to sleep inertia,” she explains. 

A person who tends to require more sleep to function properly, for example, might have a different experience with snoozing than someone who only needs seven hours of rest to feel refreshed. “Understanding these individual differences is important in assessing the impact of snoozing on someone’s personal sleep quality and overall well-being,” Harris says. 

What stage of sleep you’re in when your alarm goes off is also pretty critical to how snoozing will (or will not) affect you, Harris says. “Light sleep, closer to wakefulness, makes snoozing less disruptive to your sleep cycle, minimizing the chances of grogginess when you wake up,” she says. “However, waking from deep sleep or REM sleep intensifies the chances of grogginess, potentially making subsequent snoozing more and more disorienting.” 

Frustratingly, you don’t have a lot of control over what sleep phase you’ll be when your alarm goes off, Silverman says. “But generally, the closer you are to your final wake-up time [the time your body naturally wants to wake up], the lighter the sleep becomes. If your alarm goes off during REM or [N3], you are more likely to feel the effects of sleep inertia,” she says. 

For all of these reasons, “some [people] may benefit from the extra five minutes of snoozing, while others might find it disrupts their sleep patterns or leads to grogginess,” Harris says.

How to Maximize Your Snoozing

In short…don’t. But if you have to hit the snooze button, there are some ways to do it while reducing the potential negative impacts of the practice. 

“Aim for a snooze duration of 10 to 15 minutes to prevent falling back into deeper sleep stages,” Harris suggests. “Avoid multiple snooze cycles as they further fragment sleep and can increase grogginess.” She also recommends using alarms that gradually get louder (or have a light feature) to help with waking up. 

However, the more ideal strategy is to address the underlying issues that compel you to hit snooze in the first place, Harris says. That starts with prioritizing basic good sleep habits, like getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, and minimizing screen time before bed

It’s also a good idea to just commit to a wake-up time, says Silverman. “I generally recommend setting your alarm for the latest possible time you need to be up and out of bed and start your day to prevent snoozing,” she says. 

The Takeaway

Some people might be able to get away with snoozing with minimal negative consequences. (And if that’s you, I’m very jealous.) But in general, it’s best to try to avoid the practice. “While snoozing might not be harmful in the long run to everyone, maintaining good sleep habits and a regular sleep schedule is still crucial for overall sleep health, and this generally includes skipping the snooze button in the morning,” Harris says. And if all else fails, Silverman recommends seeking out a sleep specialist to see what’s going on—and get some much-needed relief.

This content is for informational and educational purposes only and does not constitute individualized advice. It is not intended to replace professional medical evaluation, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of your physician for questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. If you are having a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.


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