A lot of us have heard the phrase “you snooze you lose”. Heck, I once wrote an article about that very topic in a local newspaper a decade ago. It was crude and poorly written but it generated a bit of a response.

Consider this version 2.0 of why the snooze button is the downfall of society. Well, maybe not the sole downfall of society but definitely one of them.

This is highly relevant to the overall concept of resource management and somewhat scientifically based. Too much is still unknown about the ins and outs of sleep to make definitive statements in some regards. Don't worry though. I'm not here to rail against the people taking a nap on the subway.

What Are You Talking About?

Those of you unfamiliar with the phrase “you snooze you lose” can look for a good definition on UrbanDictionary.com. In more practical terms I like the concept of thinking of sleep as a debit account you either add to or remove from each day.

According to some experts, “If you don't obtain an adequate amount of sleep, sleep debt is created. And that debt doesn't just disappear. Rather, you can build over the course of a week and even over a year large amounts of sleep debt. So, if you sleep one hour less than what you typically need for one week, you are in seven hours of sleep debt.”

This sleep account is permanent and lasts your whole life so having poor sleep (and time management) habits don't do us any favors. It shouldn't be a radical statement to claim that people trick themselves into believing the rules of sleep that govern the whole human race don't apply to them. As recently as six months ago, I fell into this trap over and over again, but have since revised my stance on sleep.

Reputable sources like the New York Times have also scratched the surface on the topic of sleep and relating it back to the snooze button. There are a few good notes to make on this article but my key take away is that:

“Sleep researchers agree that short bouts of sleep are far from ideal. The restorative value of rest is diminished, especially when the increments are short, said Dr. Edward Stepanski, who has studied sleep fragmentation at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. And a teeter-totter effect of dozing and waking causes shifts in the brain-wave patterns.

Increments are short is code word for the snooze button. Feel free to comment about what length of sleep is considered short in your head but keep in mind the five stages of sleep aren't all created equal when it comes to generating positive results for that debit account.

Note: Always be wary of people claiming to be experts without citing their sources. People expressing opinions should make clear that their information is exactly that, an opinion. For the record, this post is my personal opinion justified by what I think is logical and somewhat evidence based.

My Personal Stance on the Snooze Button

I used to view hitting the snooze button as a matter of will power. It was a simple case of black and white.

Those who had will power could wake up without the snooze button and those who didn't had to rely on the crutch of the snooze.

These days I'm more inclined to view the snooze button as a form of procrastination.

Granted, snuggled in bed – under those warm blankets – being so comfortable…ahhhh the joy. It sure is a lot of fun for doing absolutely nothing. However, this is time that could be spent doing something more beneficial.

Hint: it has to do with nutrients and putting them into your mouth.

That's right. Sometimes the snooze button replaces breakfast. And no, grabbing a can of Mountain Dew as you're going out the door in the morning is not breakfast. And no, eating a Snickers bar when you get to class or to work is not breakfast.

Five to nine minutes of dozing off does little for your body or mind. And does it help you wake up any more easily? I would love to hear an honest answer from those still trapped in the snooze button vice.

Finally, for those of you complaining that you never seem to have enough time in the day to get everything done, have you considered reclaiming the time spent snoozing and allocating it to beneficial pursuits?

For those of you who need something quantified to have a point sink in consider this.

The Math Behind the Snooze Button Vice

Let's say you hit the snooze button on average three times a morning. Let's assume the time between the alarm when you hit the snooze button is the average time for clocks (nine minutes). And let's assume the habit is so firmly ingrained into your being that you do this literally every day of the year.

So that's 3 (times a morning) x 9 (minutes per snooze button press) x 365 (days in a year) = 9,855 minutes a year in snooze time!

There are 1,440 minutes in a day. 9,855 minutes lost to the snooze button divided by 1,440 minutes in a day is one week per year spent in bed under the vice of the snooze button!

Think about the impact you could make with anything you do that's even marginally beneficial for you or those you interact with for an additional week per year. You don't even have to be feeling charitable with that one week a year to get further in your goals and your daily tasks than lounging in bed.

Questions to Ponder

In a future post I'll explore the role of experts in society and why their ability to predict ideal outcomes should always be in question. For now I'll leave you with two parting thoughts to contemplate about the snooze button.

  • Did The Little Engine That Could not teach you anything growing up? Couldn't just a few “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can” mantra moments in the morning start a break from instinctively reaching for that snooze button and drifting back to sleep?
  • Does this seem like the antithesis of proper resource management to willfully harm your biorhythms and sabotage part of each day with procrastination?

Want to prove you're not too much of a zombie today to spend a few minutes making a comment instead of spending that time with the beloved snooze button? Consider this the anti-snooze button vice challenge.