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Hitting snooze is common among sleep-deprived people

A new study led by the University of Notre Dame has shed more light on people’s tendency to hit the snooze button on their alarm devices. The experts found that 57 percent of the participants were habitual snoozers, most likely due to the fact that they are not getting sufficient sleep. Although scientists and medical professionals have long advised against such behavior, the act of snoozing has remained until now virtually unstudied.

“Most of what we know about snoozing is taken from data on sleep, stress, or related behaviors,” said study lead author Stephen Mattingly, who conducted the research during a postdoctoral fellowship at Notre Dame. “Alarm clocks, smartphones, they all have snooze buttons. The medical establishment is generally against the use of snoozing, but when we went to look at what hard data existed, there was none. We now have the data to prove just how common it is — and there is still so much that we do not know.”

Since, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only one in three Americans get enough sleep, Dr. Mattingly and his colleagues suggest that snoozing may be how some of them battle their chronic exhaustion. “So many people are snoozing because so many people are chronically tired,” Mattingly explained. “If only one in three people are sleeping adequately, that means a lot of us are turning to other means to manage fatigue.”

By surveying 450 adults with full-time, salaried employment, the scientists found that females were 50 percent more likely to snooze than males, and that all snoozers tended to experience more disturbances during sleeping hours. Moreover, night owls – people who go to sleep later in the night – were found to snooze more and be more tired in general. “In the 9 to 5 world, night owls are losing,” Mattingly warned. Finally, respondents who woke naturally, without the help of an alarm, slept longer and consumed less caffeine.

“Part of the focus of this study was to demystify what is happening with snoozing,” said study senior author Aaron Striegel, a professor of Computer Science and Engineering at Notre Dame. “Is it really worse than waking up to an alarm on the first ring — is it that much different?”

“The recommendation against an alarm is well-founded, but as far as we can tell from the physiology and our data, waking to one alarm or hitting the snooze button and waking to two or three alarms doesn’t make much of a difference. If you need an alarm because you’re sleep-deprived — that’s the issue.”

The study is published in the journal SLEEP.

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By Andrei Ionescu, Staff Writer

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