Of all the love-hate relationships in my life, the most relentless is the one I have with that seductress of the morning, the snooze button. The snooze button knows I love it because it allows me to claim the last 36 minutes of my slumber, which I deeply covet. Hands down, the last half hour is not only the best sleep, but also when I find myself in the most comfortable position I’ve been in all night.
The snooze button knows I hate it because – as part of the alarm – it wants to lull me out of the best sleep, the best pillow position, the most inviting configuration of everything about slumber. During the last 36 minutes, I experience all five stages of grief over my impending loss of sleep.
- Denial.When the alarm sounds, it’s still dark outside, so I refuse to believe it’s time to get up. Cleverly, I weave its sound into the plot of whatever I’m dreaming. My sleeping brain says, “Right then, a rat did a riverdance on a xylophone for nine minutes.”
- Anger. The first snooze session, which is supposed to last nine minutes, flies by in what feels like 15 seconds. Alarm #2 is drowned out by my profanity.
- Bargaining. During snooze session #2, I mentally negotiate. “OK, OK – just let me have one more snooze and while I’m lying here, I’ll figure out what I can wear that won’t need ironing. I’ll wear my hair in a ponytail if I can just have one more – OK, two more – snoozes! If I snooze one more time, maybe my timing will work out so I’ll make all the lights!”
- Depression. As I drift off into snooze round #3, I know I’m getting into a non-negotiable time crunch. I’ll silently seethe that I live too far from work. If I lived closer, I wouldn’t feel guilty about getting up later. I’d be getting all the sleep I need. I could go home at lunch. I’d save all the wear and tear on my tires, my car, my sleep-deprived face. I don’t have the strength to deal with anything. It’s all I can do to hit the snooze button one. last. time. I swear.
- Acceptance.The end of snooze sesh #4 is the signal that 36 minutes have gone by at warp speed. I occasionally revert to stage 3 (bargaining) with my fervent plea for five more minutes, but I know it’s no use. I’m now late out the door, my hair’s a haystack, my clothes are wrinkled and every red light is waiting.
I’ve never sprung out of bed in the morning. The very idea sounds unnatural, yet my own dad was an early riser who scoffed at a snooze button and whose cheery enthusiasm irked me as much as pouring myself out of bed did. Every morning, he’d yelp a chipper, “Up and at ’em!” For years, I’d snap back, “WHO IS ADAM?!” Whoever he is, tell him to come back in 10 minutes.
SIDEBAR: Real Expertise
There are a thousand articles (all written by early birds, to be sure) with warnings about the snooze button. As a devout snoozer, I think I bring enough credibility to refute the claims of the so-called “sleep experts.”
- “The snooze button is not your friend.”Of course it’s your friend. It’s your friend who knows you could use a little more sleep, and that’s a BFF if there ever was one. Hang onto that friend.
- “The snooze button messes up your sleep cycle and circadian rhythms.”Noooo, the initial alarm does that. With surprisingly little practice, your body will start to love snooze cycles (even if your spouse might not).
- “Instead of hitting the snooze button three times, recharge with a 15-minute midday nap!” This is great advice for a toddler. Who else gets to take a nap midday? Also, four times is the magic number.
- “If you want to hit the snooze, you’re probably not getting enough sleep at night. (Ya think?) Try moving your bedtime up in 15-minute increments until you can get up with the first alarm.”This would make my bedtime 3 p.m., which would interfere with my day job.
- “The snooze button will just make you feel groggy.”It might, but I won’t know for sure for another 36 minutes.