If you’re like many people, hitting the snooze button once or twice might be part of your morning wake-up routine. But can it be bad for your health? A sleep expert explains.

Getting out of bed can be a real drag, and for many people hitting the snooze button once or twice is part of our morning wake-up routine. But according to Reena Mehra, M.D., M.S., Director of Sleep Disorders Research at Cleveland Clinic in the United States, all that snoozing isn’t helping our bodies get the restorative sleep that we need.

“Much of the latter part of our sleep cycle comprises REM sleep, or dream sleep, which is a restorative sleep state. And so, if you’re hitting the snooze button, then you’re disrupting that REM sleep or dream sleep.”

Dr. Mehra said we have different arousal thresholds during different stages of sleep, and if we’re disrupting late-stage REM sleep, it can cause a ‘fight or flight’ response – which increases our blood pressure and heartbeat.

Plus, she said, the short period of sleep that we get in between hitting the snooze button – five, 10 minutes at a time – is not restorative sleep.

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Possible Underlying Sleep Disorder

While some people can get conditioned to hitting the snooze button and actually get used to it, Dr. Mehra said if a person feels the need hit snooze again and again, it could be an indicator that they’re either not getting enough sleep or they might have an underlying sleep disorder.

For those who find themselves hitting the snooze every day, Dr. Mehra said it’s time to take a look at your sleep habits.

“Make sure you’re getting seven to eight hours of sufficient sleep and good-quality sleep,” she said. “And if that’s happening, and someone still feels the need to hit that snooze button, then they should probably see their physician to make sure there’s no undiagnosed sleep disorder that could be contributing to their need to hit the snooze.”

Dr. Mehra says the best way to de-condition ourselves from the hitting snooze button every morning is to make sleep a priority. She said many people mistakenly think they can operate on less than seven hours of sleep per night, but research has shown that over time, insufficient sleep contributes to weight gain, cardiovascular risks, and even death.

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Getting Enough Sleep is Key

“We have so much going on, and in this day and age with technology, and phones, and TVs in the bedroom contributing to light at night, combined with work and family obligations, the time we spend asleep often gets short-changed,” she said. “Prioritizing seven to eight hours of sleep for our overall well-being and health is very important so that we can optimize functioning during the day and have healthy relationships with our loved ones.”