If you hear your alarm in the morning and then decide to go back to sleep for a few more minutes, you’re not alone. According to one 2014 survey, 57% of Americans regularly hit snooze. There are worse habits, to be sure, but the problem with snoozing is that the alleged upside (more sleep) isn’t even that good. Sleeping in little chunks is far less restful than sleeping straight through to the time you intend to get out of bed.
Fortunately, it is possible to kick the habit. Here are nine strategies for ending the addiction for good.
If you want to change your life, or at least your morning routine, you need to know your purpose for doing so. "Some people define purpose as the reason you get out of bed in the morning," says Christine Whelan, author of the new book, The Big Picture: A Guide to Finding Your Purpose in Life. This is particularly relevant for snoozing. "Your ‘why’—your reason to get up—has to be more powerful than the ‘but’ of hitting your snooze button."
Maybe it’s that your boss took a chance on you with a promotion, and you never want to be late to work again, or maybe it’s that your snooze button habit is driving whoever you share a bed with crazy, and you'd like this person to continue sharing your bed. In any case, figure out a good reason and you’ll be more motivated to do things differently.
One obvious reason people hit snooze is that they’re tired. If it's not possible to sleep later in the morning, you can "sleep in" by going to bed earlier. Monica Moriak quit the snooze button after realizing that "I was going to bed at around 11:00-11:30 p.m. and need to be up by 6:15-6:30 a.m." This was not enough sleep for her. "I decided I wanted to aim for eight hours a night, so I moved my bed time to 10:00 p.m." Most nights she makes it into bed by 10:15 p.m., and is asleep before 10:30 p.m., meaning she gets her eight hours, and wakes up rested. If you have trouble winding down on time, try setting a "bedtime alarm" just like you’d set a waking alarm.
Moriak also started to use a Jawbone, which has an app that monitors sleep cycles. People naturally go in and out of deep, don’t-disturb-me sleep and lighter sleeping (when you might wake up anyway if you hear a noise or need to go to the bathroom). The app "really helped since it times the alarm to my lighter sleeping, so I am not awakened from a deep sleep," she says. If you’re moving around anyway, it’s less painful to get up.
When you were a kid, you probably felt no temptation to hit snooze on Christmas morning or your birthday. You were just too excited to see what the day would bring. You can achieve a similar dynamic by doing something you really want to do when you first wake up. Elisabeth McKetta stopped snoozing when she realized that, between her job and her family, early mornings were her only time to write. She gets up at around 5:25 a.m. "I still fight it for the first post-alarm minute most days," she says. But she can write in quiet from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. She’s written five books during that two-hour window over the past few years. Progress creates its own motivation.
If you move your alarm somewhere far enough away, you’ll have to get out of bed to turn it off. If your living quarters are tight enough, you could put your alarm by a programmed coffee machine, and have that first cup waiting for you. Usually by the time you’re up and about and sipping coffee, it’s easy enough to continue into the shower and get on with your day.
Jen Dziura, founder of the work-life advice site GetBullish, says that she used to have a snooze-button problem, but her smartphone saved her. "I think that problem solved itself when smartphones got smarter," she says. She used her phone as her alarm clock, and when she would go to hit snooze, she'd see all the emails and social media alerts that she wanted to check. "Maybe checking Facebook first thing in the morning isn’t the most productive thing you could do, but it’s probably better than going back to sleep in little fits and starts," she says.
People are often willing to change a habit for a short period of time. Try challenging yourself to stop snoozing for a week, or even a month. Jo Burr decided to wake up early, without the snooze button, and to pray every morning during the weeks before Christmas in 2015. Since she was accountable to a group at her church, this helped her stick with the challenge for a few weeks. Then the benefits became so obvious that she decided to keep going. "I leave the house with a feeling of victory, not a sense of exhaustion from arguing with myself about ‘just one more time’ and losing," she says. "Now I feel in charge of my day."
Burr is on to a key problem with snoozing: You waste a lot of energy arguing with yourself over getting out of bed when it’s a foregone conclusion that eventually you will. Some people have quit the habit by consciously choosing to save their willpower for other things. Jason Womack, coauthor with his wife Jodi of the new book Get Momentum: How to Start When You're Stuck, says that he used to have a snoozing habit so bad that "I’d even set the alarm ahead of time so that I could hit snooze a few times. But then, he "researched what happens when people working together make and then break agreements. It’s not good. Frustration, animosity, even team breakdown is the result."
He decided that "setting the alarm for the morning is making an agreement with myself. When I start my day having kept that first agreement, I build confidence and self-efficacy, it strengthens my resolve to do what I said I would do. And that’s the key to being productive."