Don't hit the snooze button: Experts explain a better strategy for waking up refreshed

It's hard enough getting out of bed when the alarm sounds, but it's even harder now with an hour of sleep lost due to daylight saving time.

If you're like many, you hit the snooze button at least once.

Your alarm tells you it's a certain time, but your body may tell you it's not ready to get up, and all you want is just a few more minutes of sleep.

Maggie Bliss, 17, knows the feeling.

"My mom will wake me up, and I'll just flip over and go back to sleep," she said.

But if you think those few added minutes of sleep is giving you more rest, you're wrong. Experts say it's actually making your body work harder.

That's because, when you sleep, your brain is trying to clean up waste and support learning and memory.

"The latter part of our sleep cycle is comprised of REM sleep, or dream sleep," said Dr. Reena Mehra, with the Cleveland Clinic. "And so, if you're hitting the snooze button, then you're disrupting that REM sleep."

Mehra said we have different arousal thresholds during different stages of sleep. If we're disrupting late stage REM sleep, it can cause a "fight or flight" response, which increases our blood pressure and heartbeat. Also, the short period of sleep we get in between hitting snooze -- five or ten minutes at a time -- is not restorative sleep.

Mehra adds that some people become conditioned to hitting snooze and actually get used to it. So how can you adjust?

Doctors say having more caffeine isn't the answer.

Training your body to get to sleep an hour earlier is a better solution.

But if you can't, Mehra said it's time to take a look at your sleep habits.

"Just making sure you're getting seven to eight hours. So, sufficient sleep and good quality sleep," she said. "And if that's happening, and someone still feels the need to hit that snooze button, then they should probably see their physician to make sure there's no undiagnosed sleep disorder that could be contributing to that."

One other tip: if you feel yourself lagging during the day, try to get outside. Getting sunlight might help reset your circadian rhythm.

Doctors said some people mistakenly think if they sleep in on the weekends, that makes up lost sleep during the week, but unfortunately, that doesn't erase a sleep debt.

In fact, experts say if you get less than seven hours of sleep per night, research shows over time, that insufficient sleep contributes to weight gain, cardiovascular risks and even early death.
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