How to Stop Oversleeping or Hitting Snooze

There is nothing sweeter than silencing an obnoxious alarm by hitting the snooze button to enjoy a few extra minutes of sleep. But if you find yourself using the snooze button regularly—or even oversleeping—it may be time to re-think your sleeping habits. Hitting the snooze button and oversleeping actually go hand in hand, and could even be hurting your health.

Learn how to stop hitting snooze and how to optimize your alarm clock setting to help you meet your sleep needs and avoid oversleeping.

man reaching to turn off alarm clock
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Causes of Oversleeping or Relying on Snooze

Medical Conditions

When we are sick with a short-term condition that causes fatigue, such as a cold or the flu, or we've had a busy, exhausting day, our bodies need more sleep. But there are also a number of long-term or chronic conditions that can disrupt our sleep patterns and lead to oversleeping, including:

  • Insomnia: The inability to fall asleep or stay asleep
  • Sleep apnea: A serious condition where the airway becomes blocked and you briefly stop breathing
  • Restless legs syndrome: A condition in which patients have the urge to move their legs while resting
  • Narcolepsy: A condition that makes it difficult to stay awake for extended periods of time

Inconsistent Sleep Schedule

Having an irregular sleep schedule puts you at risk for multiple health conditions. Just as the body relies on regular meals to stay healthy, it also needs regular, predictable sleep.

Should You Use an Alarm Clock?

Do you set an alarm to tell you it is time to stop eating? Of course not. You pay attention to your body’s signals to inform you when you are feeling full and have eaten enough. It would be best if we could also listen to our body’s ability to regulate sleep that same way. In an ideal world, we'd wake up naturally without the need for an alarm. You can take steps to do just that!

Determine Your Sleep Needs

Sleep requirements vary by age and health status, and the number of hours we need to sleep decreases as we age. While newborns typically require anywhere from 14 to 17 hours of sleep per night, the average healthy adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep per night to avoid sleep deprivation.

Everyone's sleep needs are different, though. To figure out how much you need, consider in the recent past how much sleep, on average, you have needed to feel rested. As much as possible, this need should be met each and every night. If too little sleep is obtained one night, it may be necessary to catch up with a nap or more sleep the next night. Commit to spending the amount of time in bed you need to feel rested, and be consistent.

How Much Sleep is Enough?
 Newborns 14 to 17
 Infants 12 to 15
 Toddlers 11 to 14
 Preschoolers 10 to 13
School-aged children 9 to 11
Teenagers  8 to 10
Young adults and adults 7 to 9
Older adults 7 to 8
Source: National Sleep Foundation

Keep a Regular Sleep Schedule

Our bodies respond best to regular patterns. This applies to the timing of meals (we get hungry and eat meals at about the same time every day) as well as to the habits of sleep and wakefulness.

If you go to bed at about the same time every night, you will get sleepy about that time. After determining your sleep needs and what time you want to get up, make sure you get to bed at the right time.

Go to Bed When You Feel Sleepy

Chances are that you sit down to eat when you are feeling hungry. In a similar fashion, you should go to bed when you are feeling sleepy. Don’t just crawl into bed at 10 p.m. because you want to fall asleep. If you can’t doze right away, lying awake may contribute to anxiety and insomnia.

Instead, wait until the feeling of sleepiness comes, and get into bed then. This signal can be strengthened by keeping a regular wake time.

Wake Up at the Same Time Daily

It is especially important to keep the wake time consistent, even through the weekends. This helps to stabilize our patterns of sleep.

Get Sunlight

By getting 15 to 30 minutes of sunlight upon awakening, it is possible to regulate your circadian rhythm, reinforcing your ability to sleep during darkness. By keeping this wake time on schedule, it also becomes easy to go to bed and fall asleep more regularly. If needed, especially if you must wake earlier than you naturally would on your own, it may be necessary to use an alarm.

How to Use an Alarm Clock

There are many situations when an alarm clock can be necessary to maintain a schedule. Without it, oversleeping may lead to serious consequences, including tardiness to school or work. If you regularly oversleep, this may threaten job security and lead to other professional and financial problems. So even if you have to use an alarm clock, there are ways to improve how you use it. Some tips include:

Be consistent. Select a wake time that you can adhere to every day, even on the weekends. In setting your alarm, try to set it to the latest possible time that you can get up and still do what you need to do.

Consider a device or app that monitors movement in sleep. These alarms may sound when they detect that you have already started to shift around. This may help you fully complete your sleep cycles. You also may wake easier than if the alarm were to sound and wake you from much deeper sleep. However, the downside to these is that being awoken during the night may worsen sleep quality.

Don’t hit the snooze button. Place the alarm clock across the room so you have to get out of bed to turn it off, and don’t return to bed once you are up.

Once you're awake and out of bed, head straight to the shower (where you won’t fall back to sleep). If you have trouble waking in the morning, even requiring multiple alarms, this may suggest that something else is causing you to be too sleepy.

Snooze Smarter

If you have to be at work by 8 a.m. and it takes you 90 minutes to get ready, eat breakfast, and drive there, you will want to set your alarm for 6:30 a.m. By setting the alarm to the latest possible time, you will get more uninterrupted sleep and also ensure you are prompt to work.

If you were to set the alarm for 5:45 a.m. but then spend 45 minutes hitting the snooze button, your last 45 minutes of sleep would be severely fragmented by the alarms. Even if you immediately got back to sleep, this undermines your sleep quality. It may interrupt rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, a state of sleep that occurs in the last few hours before morning and is important for problem solving and memory processing.

Why You Wake Up Feeling Overly Sleepy

Sometimes, even if you sleep, you can wake up groggy. Why is this?

  • Sleep inertia is the desire to stay asleep. It may also be stronger in the setting of other sleep disorders. For instance, obstructive sleep apnea may undermine sleep quality, so even if you sleep for the proper length of time, it is not refreshing sleep. This can make you want to stay asleep.
  • Circadian rhythm disorders, like delayed sleep phase syndrome, can also make it hard to wake up in the morning. Insomnia is another example of this type of disorder.
  • Sleep aids, like medications, alcohol, or other drugs, can have hangover effects that also make it hard to wake in the morning. In particular, sleeping pills may not fully wear off by morning and this can make it hard to wake on time.

Ways to Enhance Sleep Quality

Sleep quality can be enhanced by sticking to a consistent schedule, waking at the same time every day, going to bed when feeling sleepy, and getting enough time in bed to meet your sleep needs. There are a few other pointers that may be helpful, too:

  • Don’t be too optimistic in selecting a wake time. It is better to set the alarm to an obtainable goal.
  • If necessary, help yourself get up on time by setting multiple alarms, having someone call you on the phone, enlisting others to physically wake you, or even using technology that prompts you to get out of bed to turn off the alarm.
  • Sunlight exposure is important, but it can also be nice to wake to pleasing sounds or favored music.
  • Give yourself something to look forward to when getting up, whether it is an enjoyable activity, a favorite coffee, or even a special breakfast.
  • Even if you are retired and don’t have to get up at a specific time, avoid insomnia by keeping a fixed wake time and don't spend too much time in bed.
  • Don’t let yourself sleep in too much on the weekends, as this can contribute to Sunday night insomnia.
  • If you find yourself checking the clock too much at night, set the alarm, turn or cover the clock, and don’t look at it during the night. If it is time to wake up, the alarm will sound, otherwise simply roll over and go back to sleep.

A Word From Verywell

The alarm clock can be a necessary part of waking in the morning but if you use it smartly, you won't need the snooze button. If you find yourself waking up tired or unrested even after enough sleep, it's important to discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider or to seek help from a board-certified sleep medicine physician.

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6 Sources
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