Health

Hitting the snooze button in the morning may ruin your day

When it's still dark outside and your alarm goes off, your first instinct might be to hit the snooze button.

Just 10 more minutes, you tell yourself. When it rings again, you find yourself hitting snooze again. Just another 10 minutes.

And before you know it, you're locked in this vicious cycle of snoozing and feeling like death when you finally get out of bed.

The truth is, all that 'extra sleep' is not doing your body any good since you're not actually getting any quality rest. Instead, it seriously messes up your sleep-wake cycles and that is bad news for your health. Here's why.

YOUR HORMONES GET MIXED UP

In the morning, your melatonin levels start falling naturally as a signal to your body that it's time to wake up.

This is also when cortisol - also known as the stress hormone - kicks in. Cortisol levels peak just before waking and help to boost your hunger and energy levels to prep you for the day.

When you continuously get up, hit snooze and fall back asleep, your brain gets confused. It struggles to correctly register when it should trigger the release of the right hormones. As such, you will end up feeling more tired when you finally get out of bed.

YOUR TOILET HABITS SUFFER

Ever noticed how it seems to be easier to pass motion in the mornings? That is because digestive functions are also affected by sleep-wake cycles.

At night, your colon generally lies dormant as you sleep. But once you wake, your colon does the same and starts contracting to move stool down your intestines, priming you for toilet time.

Hitting the snooze button five or six times is going to disrupt this process and can cause your pooping habits to be thrown out of whack.

YOU MAY FEEL HUNGRIER

Similarly, your tummy also stirs once you wake up. The level of ghrelin, the hormone that increases appetite, should rise when your alarm goes off.

But when you constantly shut it down by putting your body through a sleep-wake-sleep-wake cycle, your hunger cues go haywire.

Your body might release ghrelin earlier or later than normal and trigger hunger pangs at strange times of the day, such as just before bed or in the late morning, causing you to snack or eat more.

YOU FEEL GROGGIER

If it is hard to peel your eyes open when your alarm sounds in the morning, it is going to be even harder when you let yourself fall back asleep only to be jolted awake 10 minutes later.

Your body cannot figure out when it is supposed to kick-start the hormones associated with being awake and this can make it even harder to get out of bed.

Worse, this brain fog may last throughout the day and leave you lethargic and unproductive.

The same thing applies if you naturally wake up just before your alarm - don't force yourself to go back to sleep for that extra 10 or 15 minutes. You will end up feeling groggier than if you had just got out of bed early.

This article first appeared in Shape (www.shape.com.sg)

MEDICAL & HEALTH