Why You Should Retire The Snooze Button

Hands up if you’ve ever heard the term “drockling”? Chances are you haven’t, even though you’ve probably drockled a fair amount in the past year. Put simply, drockling is the slipping in and out of consciousness after sleep. If you’ve ever woken up, only to decide to get another five minutes of sleep, congratulations: you’ve drockled. And there’s a good chance your alarm clock helped you do it.

When Levi Hutchins invented America’s first alarm clock, he probably didn’t expect to find, decades later, a function that served to circumvent the alarm’s actual purpose: to get you awake. It’s tough to say when the snooze button became such a necessary part of modern work culture, but it has. And like a lot of modern conveniences, the snooze button has unintended consequences for its users.

When we drockle, we accumulate what’s called sleep inertia, a fuzzy, groggy sensation that can last for hours after getting up. The unpleasant stimuli from the alarm clock going off tells our brains, hey, it’s time to get up. When we hit the snooze button, we’re reassuring our brains that it is safe to return to slumber. Which makes our brains doubly confused when, mere minutes later, the snooze button goes off again.

For folks hoping to take on the world, snooze-button drockling can sabotage their plans of hitting the ground running. According to a 1999 study on the effects of sleep inertia, overall alertness and cognition were significantly impaired when participants accumulated sleep inertia through drockling; what’s worse, those effects lasted for anywhere between two and four hours.

It’s not simply a matter of more winks equalling more focus and mental acuity. Our circadian rhythms – the patterns that regulate our sleep – are more complicated than that. Moreover, difficulty waking in the morning can indicate a host of sleep-related issues. If you’re having trouble getting up, hitting the snooze button could actually compound your sense of exhaustion going through the day, which will in turn make you more likely to turn to external sources, like caffeine, to counteract your grogginess. It’s a potentially devastating cycle, and the evidence is clear: you’re likely better off retiring that snooze button than giving yourself an extra five minutes of sleep.

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