There are two types of sleepers in this world.
On one side, there are the people who repeatedly hit snooze in a bid to squeeze out just five more minutes of blissful slumber, who cannot tear themselves out of bed for love or money. On the other side are those who open their eyes the moment their alarm sounds, spring out of bed, and start their day.
I fall into the former category, and any attempt to share a bed with another human has always resulted in my bleary-eyed companion groaning loudly at my inability to rouse my weary head in the morning. “Rachel!” they cry out in exasperation. “Your alarm keeps going off!” Eyes closed and head firmly resting on the pillow, I whisper, “Just press snooze. I need another five minutes’ sleep.” Five minutes turns into 15 minutes, which in turn becomes half an hour. For me, it’s just another morning. But for anyone sharing a bed with me, it’s disruptive and annoying. Cue: loud sighs, audible groans, and secret eye rolls.
Snooze-button-hitting is a surefire way to kill any glimmer of romance. So, how do you prevent all hell breaking loose when your other half happens to hate your sleepyhead habits in the morning? Thankfully, you don’t need to break up to keep the peace. There are actionable things you can do to salvage your relationship, without getting shortchanged out of feeling well-rested.
When it comes to snoozing versus waking, there’s quite a considerable divide. In the UK, 37 percent of people hit snooze at least once in the morning, and 14 percent do it three times or more, according to YouGov research. But, that same research found that 41 percent of Brits don’t touch the snooze button at all. One in five Brits don’t even bother setting an alarm in the morning.
Radio presenter Olivia Jones is in a relationship with a snooze-button-hitter. “She has done it for our entire relationship,” says Jones, who’s chatted to her partner about it to try to remedy the problem. “She used to have a really harsh, high-pitched noise; she’s since changed it to like a wind chime, sea-breeze-style noise, which is much easier to cope with,” says Jones. Her partner gets up earlier than she does, and Jones has learned to view that in a positive light: “If she does wake me up and I can’t get back to sleep, I see it as an opportunity to watch something, or have a nice coffee, which I look forward to each morning, anyway.”
If Jones’ partner notices that her multiple alarms have woken her up, she’ll hand her some earplugs. These little fixes have made the snooze button less of a contentious issue for Jones and her partner. “Now it’s just a case of empathy for how tired she is,” she says. “I can’t resent someone for being tired when I have the opportunity to sleep a lot more.”
Chatting about it and acknowledging the problem head-on is a start. But if your snoozing habits are quite deep-rooted (mine definitely are) then there are techniques you can adopt to sort yourself out once and for all. Here’s how…
Why hitting snooze might not be such a great idea
Your relationship isn’t the only thing suffering at the hands of your snooze button. According to Dr. Reena Mehra, director of sleep disorders research at Cleveland Clinic, snoozing prevents your body from getting restorative sleep. “Much of the latter part of our sleep cycle is comprised of REM sleep, or dream sleep, which is a restorative sleep state. And so, if you’re hitting the snooze button, then you’re disrupting that REM sleep or dream sleep,” says Mehra. That can prompt a “fight or flight” response from your body, which can lead to raised blood pressure and a surging heart rate. Per Mehra, repeated snooze-hitting could be a sign that a person isn’t getting ample sleep, or that they could have an underlying sleep disorder.
Matthew Walker, a professor of neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley, advises against hitting the snooze button, stating that “interrupted sleep is not good-quality sleep.” He argues that repeatedly setting off alarms in the morning can have an impact on your heart. “You are literally alarming your heart,” says Walker. “Set the alarm for when you need to get up, then turn it off and get up.”
Gradually reduce the number of alarms you set
If you pre-empt your snoozy state by setting multiple alarms for yourself, then you might need to reconsider this decision for the sake of your relationship. Sally Fox is a morning person who barely needs an alarm. Her partner, however, happens to be a “multiple alarms guy.” She says, “He’s always had earlier starts than me, so this was a big bone of contention when we first moved in together. Those beeping sounds go right through me.”
Fox and her multiple alarms guy survived, though. “A year and a half later, and we’re down from four alarms to one. We reduced one at a time and started getting earlier nights so that he wasn’t so sleepy in the mornings.”
“I think I screamed at him one morning,” she says. “Then I went back and did what I should have done — broach the topic from a calm place and promise him that I would wake him if he fell back to sleep. Essentially I became the backup alarm for a bit. But now he is just better at waking up the first time, so we got there in the end.”
Remove the bedcovers when your alarm goes off
Many of us snooze-hitters have conditioned ourselves to do exactly that each morning. Dr. William Van Gordon, associate professor in contemplative psychology at the University of Derby, suggests an alternative to the long, drawn-out battle with the snooze button. “Try to get up as soon as possible after the wake-up alarm has sounded,” he says. “Gently remove the bedcovers and sit on the side of the bed before taking a few conscious breaths in and out. This is a new day of your life. Inhale and enjoy it.”
You don’t need to suddenly pivot into a high-energy state once you’ve sat up. Van Gordon suggests “being gentle and aware as you go to the bathroom and perform your ablutions. Then make a hot drink and enjoy every sip of it.” He explains that “Waking up in this manner helps to prepare the mind for the day ahead, as well as prevent it from becoming over-active, which could have a negative impact when the time comes to sleep at the end of the day.”
Ditch your weekend lie-ins
This one might be painful. Leading sleep expert James Wilson (aka The Sleep Geek) says some slight changes can help in eliminating what he calls Snooze Button Syndrome.
“Ditching the long lie-ins at the weekend, where you convince yourself you are ‘catching up’ would help,” says Wilson. “A consistent wake up time all week allows your body to have better quality sleep. I know many people don’t like this idea, so, as I am not an evil man, a lie-in of less than an hour and a half is fine. Any more than this, and your body starts to struggle.”
Buy an old-fashioned alarm clock
Dr. Chris Etheridge, phytotherapist and medical herbalist practitioner and adviser to Puressentiel, which makes essential oils, says that pressing snooze repeatedly can have an indirect impact on your partner’s sleep.
“It can also be quite irritating to be in and out of sleep, so may also affect their mood through the day — and even though it is slight disturbance, their health and wellbeing can also be affected,” says Etheridge. If that isn’t enough to prompt you to change your habits, then he suggests ditching your phone alarm for something more difficult to reset. “If you use your phone as an alarm, invest in a traditional alarm clock or keep the phone outside the bedroom door. This will also encourage you to get out of bed instead of hitting the snooze button,” says Etheridge.
You could also try a light-emitting clock or dawn simulator. Wilson recommends replacing your audible alarm for a sunshine alarm clock, which you can find on Amazon, and big retailers like John Lewis.
“These clocks mimic the sun, raising over a set period, to gently pull you out of sleep. Even if your alarm still needs to go off, your body is more prepared to wake up and stay awake,” says Wilson.
Make sure you’re getting enough sleep
In order to de-condition ourselves from relying on the snooze button, Dr. Mehra from Cleveland Clinic says, “Make sure you’re getting seven to eight hours of sufficient sleep and good quality sleep. Prioritizing 7 to 8 hours of sleep for our overall well-being and health is very important, so that we can optimize functioning during the day and have healthy relationships with our loved ones,” she added. If, after 7 to 8 hours, you still find you need to snooze repeatedly, she recommends consulting a physician to make sure you don’t have an undiagnosed sleep disorder that could be contributing to the need to hit the snooze.
Hitting snooze might feel like a luxury item when we’re being unceremoniously plucked from our sleep each morning, but the person you’re sleeping next to might have other ideas. Think about the bigger impact of this small and seemingly inconsequential habit on your health and your loved one’s happiness. Is five minutes of extra sleep really worth it? Though it pains me to say it, the answer is: probably not.
Sleep well, friends. And steer well clear of the snooze button.