Mind & Body

Why a psychologist wants you to hit the snooze button and sleep in for an extra 20-minutes

If you’ve been looking for an excuse to hit the snooze button in the morning, this is it, thanks to psychologist Nancy Sokarno.

Hitting the snooze button invariably polarises people – either you jump out of bed when your alarm goes off, or you hit snooze (sometimes repeatedly). Ask anyone and you’ll get arguments for or against both ways of waking up, but turns out, hitting the snooze button and getting more sleep might actually do more good for you.

We chat to Lysn psychologist Nancy Sokarno about why she thinks you need to hit the snooze button and sleep for an extra 20-minutes each morning.

The 8-hour guideline

Believe it or not, there is a science behind the idea of getting the right amount of sleep, which is typically recommended for eight hours. Research suggests that any more (or less) can have adverse effects on things like your mood, memory and appetite. Therefore, hitting the snooze button can be tricky business, depending on how you slept that night.

There is some sleep science out there that suggests hitting the snooze button can disrupt healthy sleep patterns and leave you feeling drowsy for the rest of the day. However, the type of sleep we get is more important than the duration in most cases. Having a full night’s sleep that is interrupted or bad quality sleep, can be just as detrimental as having little to no sleep.

Like what you see? Sign up to our bodyandsoul.com.au newsletter to read more stories like this.

What does an extra 20-minutes do?

Sleeping for an extra 20-minutes can actually prolong your REM sleep which happens during the final stages of sleep. Each phase of sleep is incredibly important however REM sleep is especially so because it increases brain activity and promotes learning. A full sleep cycle is 90 minutes to two hours, during which time the brain cycles from slow-wave sleep to REM sleep. Getting a full sleep cycle is ideal to feel completely rested, however it’s not always practical. If you can tap into extra REM sleep, you can benefit greatly. REM sleep is thought to play a role in memory and mood and gives our brains more chance to consolidate our thoughts and come up with our most creative ideas.

Hitting the snooze button can also be beneficial because it allows you time to gradually wake up, rather than jolting yourself awake. If you’ve slept poorly that night, you may also benefit from an extra 20-minutes or more sleep. However, snoozing too much and being late for work or appointments is never a good thing.

If you’re finding yourself feeling the need to snooze a lot longer – or more often – than you should, try to recognise that there might be other issues at hand. Perhaps you’re not getting adequate or quality sleep, or your sleep is interrupted throughout the night.

8 tips to maximise your sleep

Here are some tips to try and get the best sleep possible:

1. Make sure that you get 8 hours of quality sleep

2. Avoid stimulants before bed like coffee or energy drinks

3. Avoid screens (TV, ipads, phone) before bed

4. Exercise throughout the day

5. Ensure you have quality bedding

6. Eat nutritious food and drink lots of water

7. Check lighting conditions to ensure you’re not getting exposure to the wrong kinds of light

8. Eliminate the pressure from the day with relaxation techniques, journaling, meditation or mindfulness apps

Nancy Sokarno is a psychologist at Lysn. Lysn is a digital mental health company with world class wellbeing technology which helps people find their best-fit professional psychologist whilst being able to access online tools to improve their mental health.