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‘We should be sympathetic toward snoozers’: Study finds unexpected effect of snoozing an alarm

To learn more about snoozing, professors and researchers from the Notre Dame department of computer science collected data from daily surveys that questioned the snoozing habits of 385 individuals. The team concluded that repeatedly snoozing alarms is linked to having a higher heart rate.

Postdoctoral researcher Stephen Mattingly said he was interested in the topic before he started collecting data.

“I was interested in how people hit the alarm multiple times in the morning. There’s very little tied to that topic in particular,” he said. 

Mattingly continued to explain the lack of information surrounding snoozing, saying that he could not find any literature on the topic.

“When I went to go consult the scientific literature, I didn’t see pretty much anything. Which means it was an open question. Right for research,” he said.

Aaron Striegel, computer science and engineering professor and program director for the computer science major, said the study was intended to be a measure of job performance using physiological data gathered over a year on white-collar professionals, but the data was inconclusive.

“If we just take a week at the end of the study to ask questions, we could actually try to quantify how often people snooze,” Striegel said. “Let’s get this data because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a really large cohort.”

When Striegel was asked to define “snoozing,” he said, “it’s where you have a primary alarm and a backup alarm, or you hit the snooze function.”

When gathering data, Mattingly noted that he was interested in stress rates.

“I was looking for evidence that the heart rate increases before you get out of bed, which is associated with the stress response,” he said.

At the conclusion of the week-long survey, researchers concluded that nearly 60% of individuals snooze. They also found average heart rates to be 3.35 beats per minute higher while snoozing.

Striegel noted that this number was higher than he originally thought.

Furthermore, Mattingly explained that he believes snoozing is tied to need.

Pointing to caffeine as an enemy of healthy sleep regulation, Mattingly said, “You’re still going to be tired when you get out of bed until you get your coffee and its other unintended consequences. So from our admittedly very first research study on the topic, it looks like people snooze at need.”

Striegel stressed the importance of not feeling guilty over those couple extra minutes in bed.

“Oftentimes, it’s kind of conflated with laziness,” Striegel said. “You shouldn’t feel guilty necessarily about snoozing unless it’s impacting your life. If you’re just snoozing and missing things, that’s much different.”

Mattingly said he was interested in how snoozing is stigmatized in modern society.

“It’s interesting how much of a stigma is tied to snoozing,” Mattingly said. “I think there might be a place for snoozing as a tool to deal with fatigue; it might be appropriate in some contexts”

Mattingly stressed the lack of resources and the need for more research to learn more about snoozing and its effects.

“We still have a lot to learn,” he said.

Redmond Bernhold

Contact Redmond at rbernho2@nd.edu

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