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June 7, 2012 at 4:26 PMComments: 5 Faves: 0

Circumventing the Snooze

By Kyle McCarthy from SLN More Blogs by This Author

My Pillow, My Friend

Like many Americans, I am hopelessly devoted to my pillows. I engage in a twisted relationship with them on a nightly (and far too often, daily) basis. They are, at once, both my closest companions and my fiercest nemeses. Their cool, cushioney grip is usually too much for me to overcome. Part of me wants to rise, refreshed and reinvigorated, but those pillows, in all their resplendent comfort, refuse to part with me at my body’s suggested moment of departure. The most I can muster during those first few seconds of consciousness is an indignant jab at the snooze button on my alarm clock to delay the inevitable.

I feel confident in saying that the snooze button is the single most contemptuous, non-lethal, invention of the 20th century. The cowards at Wikipedia wouldn’t tell me the name of the progenitor of this insidious device (probably for the sake of the inventor’s safety). In fairness, though, I think we can all agree that the general principle behind the snooze seems agreeable. In those first hazy moments upon waking, who doesn’t desire an extra 9 minutes of blissful comatose?

Alarm Clock

Unfortunately, the snooze doesn’t offer any true reprieve as 9 minutes is hardly enough time to reenter a productive state of rest. All the snooze accomplishes is to delay the inevitable and waste valuable time that could be better directed toward your normal routine. According to the CityNews Toronto, “The last hour or so before you wake up is when you should be in your longest period of REM sleep - the time of night when you dream the most.” If you are so far gone in your snooze obsession that you allot an hour or so before actually rising to repetitively smash your alarm clock, then it’s time to reconsider that strategy. 

The Snooze Button Effect

The problem with the snooze is that it sets a tone of procrastination for your entire day. And if you use the snooze regularly, this procrastination can turn habitual. It might seem absurd, but the snooze button might have more to do with this country’s laziness than the television, Facebook, or Hot Pockets combined! It instills a feeling of impending dread for each coming event in our day.

Kevin Ngo refers to this phenomenon as the "Snooze Button Effect." He writes, “Contained in these 9 ‘precious’ minutes is an unknown substance that seemingly causes people to be addicted to its delusional effects. This so called Snooze Button Effect causes people to actually believe in the illusion that 9 more minutes of sleep will actually make a positive difference.” 

Quality over Quanity

Most of us operate under the delusion that the snooze button is an effective way to re-assimilate to consciousness over the course of an hour or so. The truth is that it sets a tone of frustration and irritability that can last the entire day. We should start concerning ourselves less with the quantity of ineffective sleep we get in the morning and more with the quality of sleep we are capable of achieving throughout the night. To do so, we should adhere to a few basics:

  • Don’t lie in bed tossing and turning, waiting for sleep. If you can’t fall asleep, rise; do something productive (e.g. exercise), and try to lie back down after a half an hour.
  • Be sure to put your clock in an area of the room where you have to get up to check the time or turn off the alarm.
  • Set regular times for sleeping and waking (including weekends).
  • Refrain from ingesting any stimulants for at least 4 hours before going to bed.

Living snooze free really is liberating. Avoiding the magnetic temptation of the snooze allows for you to create structure in establishing a morning routine. Further, this new abundance of time provides a period where you can relax and eat a healthy breakfast

Food? In the Morning?

I’ve always seen breakfast as an inconvenient barrier from obtaining that extra 9 minutes of sleep. When my alarm blasts me awake in the morning, breakfast is not at the top of my list of priorities. Historically, I haven’t had time for eggs, I haven’t had time for waffles… I haven’t even have time for instant oatmeal. 


However, since I’ve cut out the snooze from my morning routine, I’m able to devote a full half-hour toward preparing breakfast. It’s no secret that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but I think most people shrug off this idiom and roll back over. 

Breakfast is vital because it kick starts the metabolism, which leaves you feeling energized and alert. Like hitting the snooze, skipping breakfast can leave you feeling irritable and lethargic. I figure, since I’m up anyway, I might as well grab a small bite and get my body going!

The conflict between my pillows and my will continue every morning, but now I have two advantages over my snuggly opponent. The first is that I’ve successfully formed an alliance with the alarm clock. Instead of being a slave to the snooze, I now hold dominion over it. Secondly, I’m hungry in the morning now because I’m used to eating a balanced breakfast every day! It didn’t take long for my body to make these necessary adjustment - just a few simple changes to my routine and the occasional swift gut shot to my pillows to keep them in line.


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  • Facebook....and hot pockets. WHOA

  • 9 minutes of hell is the way I like to thing about the freaking snooze button. You're absolutely right. I hit it, then lay there thinking about what time that was and when it's going to go off again.

    Fortunately for me, it's summer. The early sunlight and songbirds wake me well before the snooze ever gets a chance. Just wish I could make this work for the winter too.

  • Seth - you know, I've been waking up naturally around 6:30 every morning for awhile now and I wasn't sure what happened. I never used to be a morning person, but you're probably right! It probably is all the sun. It's been really nice!

    When I wake up at 6:30 it means I get to enjoy just laying in bed, watching birds and squirrels through the window, remembering my dreams or planning my day for 30 minutes. It's made a big difference in my mood to have some me time before I get ready for the day.

  • Love this blog, I usually think about what I want to do first thing in the morning before I go to bed so I have a good reason to get up. Like last night I said to myself, first I want read from the bible. Other times if I set the stage to get up and exercise I can do that as well. Sometime I will wake up before my alarm and get my day started, just because I had it planned in my head before I even went to sleep!

    PS other day's I love the snooze button because unlike sprouty I can go back to sleep!

  • Yeah, been struggling with the snooze the last few weeks now. Winter solstice is behind though, so come on daylight!

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