- Snoozing in the morning feels so good.
- However, it has a bad reputation for making us feel even worse when we do finally get up.
- But it could have its benefits, particularly if you’re a night owl.
- During REM sleep our brains consolidate our thoughts and dreams.
- REM sleep happens during the final two hours of sleep, so prolonging it for 20 minutes can give us some of our most creative ideas.
Sleep hygiene is important. This is especially true if you’re a night owl with a 9-to-5 job.
The working world, in general, just isn’t catered to those of us who prefer late nights and later mornings to getting up at the crack of dawn. This means we have to make up for the sleep we don’t get in the morning by making it easier for ourselves to drift off at night.
If you don’t get enough sleep, its incredibly tempting to hit “snooze” on your alarm once, twice, or even several more times.
Snoozing has a bad reputation, with some neuroscientists saying you get better sleep without it, and that those extra few minutes of slumber can wreck your entire day.
But according to psychologist Perpetua Neo, a fellow night owl, snoozing can help consolidate our thoughts and memories, and make us more creative as a result.
“The thing about night owls is our REM sleep is very important, and REM sleep happens in the last two hours,” she told INSIDER. “If you allow yourself 20 minutes to snooze, between your first and second alarms, what that does is it gives your brain time to consolidate the rest of your REM sleep.”
So it’s not so much about never snoozing, as it is snoozing effectively. Also, think about all those times you’ve drifted off for a few minutes after your first alarm — don’t you often have some of your wildest dreams?
“If your brain is consolidating and restoring you might actually get really creative,” Neo said. “You might drift off with a really brilliant idea, and what you can do then is jot down your dreams and thoughts, rather than checking Instagram and Facebook first thing.
“It actually wakes your brain up because you’re getting creative already.”
Another common belief about sleeping patterns is that you shouldn’t sleep in at the weekend. But according to some research, sleeping in at the weekend could counteract the harm caused by lack of sleep during the week.
Sleep researchers from the Stress Research Institute at Stockholm University looked at data from more than 43,000 adults collected in Sweden in 1997. They then checked the national death register to see what happened to participants over 13 years.
They found that adults under age 65 who got only five hours of sleep or less a night, for seven days a week, had a higher risk of early death than those who consistently got six or seven hours. But those who made up for it at the weekend by sleeping in had no raised mortality risk compared to the steady sleepers.
“The results imply that short (weekday) sleep is not a risk factor for mortality if it is combined with a medium or long weekend sleep,” said the researchers, led by Torbjorn Akerstedt. “This suggests that short weekday sleep may be compensated for during the weekend, and that this has implications for mortality.”
In the sleep-science community, the overarching advice is that consistency is key and that there is no substitute for having a regular sleep pattern. Studies have shown the negative impacts a disrupted sleep cycle can have on our mental and physical health.
That’s why nighttime rituals, like putting your phone away about an hour before you drift off and taking a hot shower to lower your cortisol levels, are important to stick to.
“Night owls, if we don’t see change within the first two days we slip,” Neo said. “But over time, your brain will learn when the time is to sleep and rest. So give yourself a break.”