Hitting the snooze button each morning could be worth the extra few minutes in bed, according to a new sleep loss study published Wednesday, which found that even though people who use the snooze button while begrudgingly waking up are more likely to be drowsy, it could still have benefits, according to at least one researcher.
People who hit snooze are roughly three times as likely to feel drowsy when they wake up as people who do not use the snooze button—either because they do not use an alarm or wake up immediately with an alarm—according to a study published Wednesday in the Journal of Sleep Research.
Researchers surveyed more than 1,700 participants—including roughly 250 who said they do not rely on alarms to wake up—and found that among individuals who use the snooze button, roughly 71% said they typically snooze on workdays while 23% snooze on both workdays and off days, with 60% of snoozers reporting they “most often” or “always” fall asleep between alarms.
According to the study, people who use the snooze button spend an average of 22 minutes per day snoozing but lose an average of 13 minutes of sleep on workdays compared to people who opt out of using the snooze button—researchers did not find a significant difference in sleep loss on days off work.
In a follow-up three-night laboratory study involving 31 participants, researchers also measured participants’ sleepiness, cortisol levels, mood and performance on a series of mathematical and memory-based cognitive tests after waking up.
Surprisingly, participants who snoozed exhibited improved memory functioning and solved simple addition questions faster in cognitive tests than participants who did not use the snooze button, though those improvements only held true when measured immediately after participants woke up, and leveled off when measured again 40 minutes later.
Despite the slight loss of sleep from hitting the snooze button, Stockholm University Dr. Tina Sundelin, an author on the study, urged snooze-button users not to avoid doing so “if you enjoy it,” adding the feature could help people who suffer from morning drowsiness feel “slightly more awake” once they are fully up.
One third. That’s the share of U.S. adults that typically receive less than the recommended amount of sleep at night, according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society, adults ages 18 to 60 should receive at least seven hours of sleep per night, while teenagers are recommended eight to 10 hours of sleep every 24 hours, and children ages six to 12 should receive nine to 12 hours every 24-hour period.
The CDC links sleep loss to chronic diseases, including Type 2 diabetes, depression, heart disease and obesity. A study published last year in the journal PLOS Medicine found adults 50 and older face a slew of health problems if they sleep less than five hours per night, and are 30% more likely to develop multiple chronic issues—including stroke, heart disease, dementia, depression and liver and kidney disease. Though researchers have not definitively stated why chronic conditions are more common among people who sleep less, several studies have linked a loss of sleep to hormonal changes that affect appetite, drops in energy and impaired decision making, and can impair the immune system.
Researchers also found variations in age between snoozers and people who opt not to use the snooze button, finding people who snooze tend to be six years younger, on average.