If This Is the First Thing You Do Every Day, Call Your Doctor

John Quinn
·3 mins read

As summer turns over to fall, getting out of bed in the morning can take a little extra motivation for even the most disciplined of us. But medical experts suggest that an inability to heed your alarm may be a sign that something else is wrong. According to a recent report from the department of Sleep Disorders Research at the Cleveland Clinic, if you feel the need to hit that snooze button after a solid night of sleep, it's time to see your doctor. Read on to find out why, and for more ways you could be affecting your sleep, Don't Put This In Your Body Before Bed, Doctors Say.

The Cleveland Clinic report highlights that not all sleep is the same, and that how a night's slumber ends can be a big clue as to your overall wellbeing. "Much of the latter part of our sleep cycle is comprised of REM sleep, or dream sleep, which is a restorative sleep state," Reena Mehra, MD, the director of Sleep Disorders Research at Cleveland Clinic, said in a statement. "And so, if you're hitting the snooze button, then you're disrupting that REM sleep or dream sleep."

closeup of snooze button on alarm clock
closeup of snooze button on alarm clock

But why does this matter? Well, every night, you go through two basic types of sleep, REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and non-REM sleep. The National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke describes non-REM sleep as moving through three stages: Stage 1. When you changeover from wakefulness to sleep; Stage 2. When you go into light sleep; and Stage 3. When you go into the deepest level of sleep for the longest period. You cycle through these three varieties several times in the night, spending the most time in Stage 2, but Stage 3 is the type that leaves you feeling fully refreshed in the morning.

By contrast, REM sleep first occurs about 90 minutes after you fall asleep. "Your eyes move rapidly from side to side behind closed eyelids," the experts at the institute explain. "Your breathing becomes faster and irregular, and your heart rate and blood pressure increase to near waking levels. Most of your dreaming occurs during REM sleep, although some can also occur in non-REM sleep. Your arm and leg muscles become temporarily paralyzed, which prevents you from acting out your dreams."

This is where the problem with the snooze button comes in—while going in and out of REM sleep. With an already heightened level of alertness, disrupting this sleep with an alarm at 10-minute intervals can cause a "fight or flight" response, raising your blood pressure and heartbeat, while being too short an interval to allow for restful slumber. Over time, as the National Health Service warns, insufficient restful sleep can contribute to weight gain, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, and diabetes.

RELATED: For more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

"Make sure you're getting seven to eight hours of sufficient sleep and good quality sleep," said Mehra. "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 their need to hit the snooze." And for more bad habits to ditch when it comes to sleep, find out The Things You're Doing That Would Horrify Sleep Doctors.