Article about quality sleep - Wake up! You snooze, you lose -- Multiple hits on the snooze alarm may be hazardous to your sleep and motivation

Article about quality sleep - Wake up! You snooze, you lose --
Multiple hits on the snooze alarm may be hazardous to your sleep and

From Newsday

Wake up! You snooze, you lose -- Multiple hits on the snooze alarm may
be hazardous to your sleep and motivation

The Hartford Courant

January 12, 2006

When the first alarm clock with a snooze button made its debut in 1956,
General Electric Telechron introduced it as "the world's most humane
alarm clock." Is it really? Or is it a siren call that preys upon our
most vulnerable, sleepy selves? Perhaps, in the year that marks its
50th anniversary, we should consider the legacy of this particular
device. What, indeed, has the snooze button wrought? Aneidy Hernandez,
for one, couldn't be happier with it.

"I wake up, and I have that 15 minutes, and it feels like I slept an
hour," says the East Haven, Conn., resident while waiting for a train.

Actually, says Edward Stepanski, it's the other way around. A sleep
specialist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Stepanski says
an hour's worth of fragmented sleep has the restorative value of no
more than 15 minutes of steady sleep.

Putting off the inevitable

Serial snoozing is like sleeping with the television on. Hitting the
button once or twice is fine, but more than that presents a problem.

"You're better off not using it in that scenario," he says. "Set it
very close to the time that you actually have to put your feet on the
floor." We love the snooze button and the nine-minute nearly universal
cushion from reality it provides. (Why nine minutes? Theories vary.)
And that, says Pauline Wallin, author of "Taming Your Inner Brat: A
Guide for Transforming Self-Defeating Behavior," puts into play a
dangerous mind-set. If the very first thing you do each day is put off
the inevitable, what kind of pattern does that set for the rest of your

"It's just kind of putting off what you don't want to do, and the
snooze button is kind of a tool for doing that," she says. It's best to
face the day cold turkey.

"Once you do something early in the day, like working out or paying the
bills, you just get a little spring in your step," she says.

Designed to give us the gift of extra time, we now schedule our
mornings around the snooze button. Many set their clocks knowing the
first hour, or even two hours, of the day will be spent alternately
sleeping and waking. Before e-mail, cell phones and the Internet eroded
our time, says Joseph Ferrari of Chicago's DePaul University, we had
the snooze button.

"It's probably one of the first in modern times of the technological
procrastination creators," says Ferrari, who specializes in the
psychology of procrastination.

Like a lot of technology, it's killing us with convenience and instant
gratification. Imagine, says Piers Steel, if they developed a magic
spoon of ice cream that floated around your head and all you had to do
was wink and it appeared in your mouth.

"It would be very hard to stay on your diet," says Steel, an assistant
professor at Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary
in Alberta. "People have decision-making tendencies that are really
well-suited for a hunting and gathering society; we never had to make
long-term decisions."

Running away with time

If you don't want to get sucked into endless snoozing and multiple
clocks aren't your thing, consider Clocky. As a corrective to the havoc
wreaked on our sleeping habits, Clocky offers a tough-love alternative.
It scoots away on two wheels when the alarm goes off, forcing the
sleeper to rise from bed and chase it down. Clocky is in production and
will be ready for sale (for $30 to $50) in a few months. MIT graduate
student Gauri Nanda says she developed it after years of abusing the
snooze button.

"I, myself, have found myself two hours late after repeatedly hitting
snooze and never awaking," she says in an e-mail.

Not only should we refrain from the snooze button, experts say, but a
truly rested person doesn't even need an alarm clock. Steve Wasserman
is one the few who can call themselves truly rested.

"I find my internal clock awakens me as promptly as any mechanical
device," says Wasserman, a literary agent from New York. "I don't like
the feeling of going back to sleep only to wake up in an even more
troubled and angry state than before."

Copyright © 2006, Newsday, Inc.