back to article You snooze, you lose? It's not quite as simple as that

If on waking your first instinct is to smash that snooze button, new research may encourage you to let sleeping dogs lie. Though the practice is an everyday occurrence for many of us (except on weekends), there hasn't been much scientific investigation of snoozing despite claims that it has negative cognitive effects. So a …

  1. elsergiovolador Silver badge


    The thing is, everyone has individual "clock".

    If you find that you can naturally fall asleep at 3AM, you will never be happy in 9-5 (unless it is in another time zone).

    There are some schools that claim you can shift it, by ensuring you wake up at the same time no matter what and you will gradually go to sleep earlier to get that 5-7 hours.

    But it's a misery.

    It's much better to talk to employer and ask for individual hours and accept you are 3AM person. No more snoozing and happier life.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Clock

      While I agree that everyone has a different clock, most of us are disposed to sleep as sunlight decreases so "being awake until 3 am" is probably not natural*. However, lots of people have trouble getting to and then staying asleep. I've definitely got better at getting to sleep by having fairly regular bed times, but I still frequently wake up sometimes for hours in the middle of the night and that make some snoozing in the morning invaluable!

      * I've that my body clock ajusts quite clickly to the solar one on holiday in the countryside where additional stimulants are minimal. Short post-prandial naps also feel very natural.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Clock

        There are still tribes known for hunting at night. Being more alert at night could be inherited from predecessors who were more active at night - for hunting or to keep others safe while they sleep.

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: Clock

          or to keep others safe while they sleep

          I've seen theories that humans having a range between "early risers" and "night owls" was evolutionarily beneficial, as the night owls can watch over the sleeping tribe for half the night then go to sleep themselves when the early risers wake up and take over. Back when there were some seriously nasty things about like sabretooth tigers and cave bears, you wouldn't want to force someone who isn't naturally predisposed to staying up light to take first watch, or to wake up someone up at 3am to take second watch, because if either is drowsy and nods off some people in your tribe won't be passing their genes along.

          1. Dizzy Dwarf

            Re: Clock

            > sabretooth tigers and cave bears

            And dinosaurs. Don’t forget the dinosaurs.

      2. PRR Bronze badge

        Re: Clock

        > ...most of us are disposed to sleep as sunlight decreases so "being awake until 3 am" is probably not natural*.

        Tell that to my porcupine, owls, or coyotes. While they "do" roam in daylight, they are mostly nocturnal or crepuscular. Being able to move without being seen is a good thing. Or Skunk, whose bright white stripe stands-out in dark.

        I'm no porcupine, but we are all mammal animals, and I have some kin-feeling for the coyote. As said, living in packs, it is good to have a variety of sleep patterns to watch around the clock.

        Also see research about "second sleep". There is much evidence for medieval humans going to bed with the sun and then waking in the middle of the night for a snack, sex, or to gossip. (And, I suspect, to get grandpa out of bed to take his pee, and to feed the fire.)

  2. AndrueC Silver badge

    I almost always wake before my alarm goes off. I can sometimes grab another ten minutes of sleep but 'being AndrueC's alarm clock' is probably almost as pointless a job as 'BMW indicator fitting specialist'.

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge

    This is my alarm clock sound and I usually wake up on the first note, I would have to be really tired to sleep through all the way through to the final notes.

    Highly strung, me?

    1. quxinot

      I am going to very politely not link to what my alarm is set to play. I suspect you would go directly through 'awake' and straight to 'cardiac arrest'. Some of us need a bit of a kick to get out of bed, particularly in the ridiculous early hours (seriously, if the sun isn't up, leave me alone), especially in winter.

      (For the morbidly curious, find "The Great Southern Trendkill" and listen to the first, oh, ten seconds. Generally that's all the longer needed to get me up and turning the damned thing off! It helps that the alarm device is placed on the opposite corner of the room from the bed.)

  4. TheMaskedMan Silver badge

    I recall reading some research fairly recently that suggests that most of the folks who claim to be night people aren't - they will fit into a regular day / night cycle quite easily if they have no other stimuli.

    Some, however, are, and I am one of them. I am most alert and constructive at night, even if I am forced to get up at 7 am. I find that I am just getting going towards late evening, will quite happily work through the night and go to bed just as everyone else is getting up. I'd guess that there is a genetic component to that as it's fairly common on my mother's side of the family, but not on my dad's.

    Of course, I can and have done the regular day / night thing over the years, but I've never felt at my best doing it, and I find that it takes just one day of being up late to set me back on the night routine. Guess I'm just a creature of the night!

    1. DoctorPaul

      According to my go-to fount of all knowledge (QI on the BBC) this is a syndrome "suffered" by 1 in 500 people including the likes of Renée Descartes, who never got up before midday.

      Now that I'm retired I typically go to bed between 2am and 3am and I'm never up before 10 in the morning. If I got up as soon as I woke, I would be up at 4 or 5 as sleep is more like a series of naps for me. That said, I reckon that I could nap for England!

      Been like it all my life. I'm 71 now but as a teenager in the 60s I used to cycle to school about 2 miles away - had to be there by 9am but I would not be heading downstairs to grab breakfast any time before 8.30.

    2. Roopee Bronze badge
      Thumb Up

      That's me too :)

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  6. Victor Ludorum

    Non 24 hour sleep cycle

    My son's sleep pattern started to deteriorate during 2020, when he was about 14. After several false starts with medical professionals, he was finally diagnosed with delayed phase sleep wake disorder. He usually goes to bed at ~11pm, but is never asleep before 3am*. We have to wake him at 12.30 to try and keep some routine in his life otherwise his sleep could end up all over the place.

    One of the treatments suggested by a sleep doctor actually made his sleep patterns worse.

    There is a risk that he could fall into a 'Non-24 hour' sleep cycle, there is also a slim chance he will grow out of it.

    He's also been diagnosed with ADHD, but it's not clear if the two are related.

    * Yes, we've done all the screens off, no blue light etc. His bedroom is as dark as we can make it. He just lies there in bed and can't sleep.

  7. Sceptic Tank Silver badge


    When I struggle to fall asleep I burn up my brain cycles by thinking about something remotely interesting but not terribly exciting like a plot for a book I might want to write, or how to proceed with a pet software project. Often works.

    Yawn ======>

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