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A weekly show where we endeavor to answer one of your big questions. This week, Mitra Mirpour asks, "Does hitting the snooze button and getting those few extra minutes of sleep actually help?"
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Craig: Hi.  I'm Craig, hang on, I'm gonna hit the snooze button.  (Snores)  ...and this is mental_floss on YouTube.  Today, I'm going to answer Mitra Mirpour's big question, "Does hitting the snooze button and getting those few extra minutes of sleep actually help?" 

Well, it didn't help me, I'm still tired.  You've probably seen a ton of articles about how the snooze button is terrible and makes us even more tired, but as usual, things are a little more complicated than that.  Let's get started.

(MF Intro)

A lot of sleep experts, or slexperts, are anti-snooze button.  Most of them will recommend setting an alarm for the actual time that you'll wake up as opposed to giving yourself time to hit the snooze button in the morning.  That way, you won't risk the grogginess that usually comes after hitting snooze.  But surprisingly, there haven't been many scientific studies on the effects of hitting the snooze button, so there's no definite conclusion yet.  That means we're done, right?  See ya. 

Some believe that it might make you more tired for a couple reasons, like, we know that neurotransmitters are connected to sleep cycles.  When we fall asleep, a lot of serotonin is released into our blood stream, which is why sleep is so enjoyable.  But when we're about ready to wake up after about 7-9 hours, or in my case, 17 hours, the body starts to release more dopamine into the blood stream, preparing us to wake up.  If you wake up suddenly, then go back to sleep, this cycle gets messed up, and it might be even harder to wake up after that.

There are potentially more serious side effects to the snooze button, too, like one study done at the University of Pennsylvania in 2014 found a connection between hitting the snooze button in the morning and health problems, like weight gain and heart disease.  According to Dr. David Dinges, who conducted the study, "When we use the snooze button, we are in effect constantly disrupting the final 10, 20, or 30 minutes of sleep as opposed to just setting your clock another half hour later." 

But there's a flip side to this.  Sleep fragmentation expert Dr. Edward Stepanski has claimed that hitting the snooze button isn't so bad, especially for people who've already gotten 8 hours of sleep, and in general, some people just handle it better than others.  You know, people are different.  We can all get along, though. 

Let's be honest, though, hitting the snooze button isn't always a conscious choice.  Sometimes we do it without realizing it, and there's a reason for that.  When we wake up sooner than we'd like, sometimes we experience what's known as sleep inertia, or slenertia.  This is morning grogginess that's impacted by how suddenly we've been awoken.  It takes a while for the prefrontal cortex to wake up in the morning with us, and that's the part of the brain connected to decision making, so if you've been hitting the snooze button more than you'd like, just blame it on sleep inertia.  It's probably--your boss probably won't accept that as an excuse.

Thanks for watching mental_floss on YouTube, which is made with the help of all these nice slexperts.  If you have a big question of your own that you'd like answered, leave it below in the comments.  See you next week.

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