There are very few things in life that feel better than those 10 extra minutes of sleep after pressing the snooze button on your alarm in morning. Unfortunately, hitting the snooze button to get a few more precious moments of sleep can potentially do more damage than good.
The reason sleep feels so good, and bonus sleep feels even better, has a lot to do with chemicals being released in our bodies. Whoever said sleep is like a drug wasn’t lying. As you fall asleep, your body releases a chemical called serotonin into your bloodstream. (Also, see our post Dubstep on the brain for other examples of serotonin’s effects on the human body). Serotonin is a chemical that tells the brain to soothe the body and creates a calm, peaceful feeling of well-being and happiness. Hitting the snooze button is literally like taking another hit of serotonin to the brain. So why is this bad for us again? Don’t worry I’m getting there…
During a normal 8 hour sleep cycle, your body releases serotonin to send you to dreamland and then slowly brings you back by lowering the levels of serotonin and shooting you with a dose of dopamine, another chemical known for energizing the body, giving you that feeling of alertness and motivation. As your body naturally lowers your serotonin and increases your dopamine levels, every time you hit the snooze button you are re-injecting yourself with serotonin mixed with high levels of dopamine. This chemical high leaves you feeling good in the moment but you eventually crash from the chemical imbalance and may lead to waking up feeling disoriented and drained of energy for the rest of the day.
While I enjoy those extra minutes of sleep just as much as the next guy, there are some studies that show snooze sleep may cause a decline in brain function that lead to loss of memory, slowed reaction time and lack of focus and concentration.
We each have our own unique sleep/wake cycles. If you’re having trouble sleeping and you wake up every morning feeling unrested and drained of energy you can analyze your own sleep cycle by journaling the rhythmic pattern of your sleep schedule throughout the week. Keeping a sleep diary and doing some simple data analysis can help figure out the root of insomnia, and other problems related to mood and fatigue. After a few days of collecting data you will notice a pattern start to emerge from your sleep schedule. You may discover daily habits or changes in mood that affect your sleep. Once you have this data you can make some slight changes to your daily habits and routine or even diet. Visit your doctor and bring your notes with you to come up with a plan together.
Some media may contain mature content. Discretion is advised when viewing with students.
Have students watch the video on the Snooze button and have them take note of the terms and facts mentioned in the video.