Your snooze button is harming you

Sorry for the dramatic headline but I think it’s true. Have a read of this:

Most people see the snooze button as a luxury that promises just a little more energy, but in fact, it screws up the morning and beyond. Hitting snooze may offer a temporary sense of relief, but there is mounting evidence that it also keeps us from starting our day with a feeling of purpose.

In his book, The Miracle Morning, Hal Elrod explains that the danger of the snooze button is that every time you hit it, you are implicitly saying that you don’t want to wake up to your life.

If you’re thinking, “Meh, not such a big deal,” think again. There are graver conditions than apathy associated with over-snoozing – the most insidious of which is depression. Repeatedly hitting the snooze button in resistance to rising gives you the sense that you have nothing to look forward to, leading to feelings of purposelessness and passivity very similar to what depressed people feel.

The Most Harmful Thing You’re Doing Before You Even Get Out of Bed – Page19

That deeply chimed with me because I’ve been doing the snooze a lot lately, including this morning, and I can see directly how my mood is different to when I get up at 5am as planned. Read the full piece.

Learn how long it takes you to wake up

If I told you that the average person needs seven to eight hours sleep per night, you would not rush to hit the Facebook share button. But what’s less well known, certainly by me, is that there is an amount of time we each take to wake up – and that’s it’s several hours.

I find that half reassuring, half miserable. Read Fast Company’s account of how to find out your time.

The Great Experiment: getting up at 4am

Don’t do it. 

I’ve now got up to work at 5am on weekdays exactly 350 times and yesterday I tried 4am instead. It was brilliant until about 1pm when I struggled, then 4pm when I was underwater. Grabbed thirty minutes nap somewhere around 5pm when I got home and the day was done.

That feels like such a waste: finishing my day by, what, 5:30pm. I know I can argue that I did a lot from 4am to 1pm and that this is officially the length of a working day.

But now this morning I am struggling again, the 5am lurch was harder than ever and I’m somehow feeling it all in my stomach.

I’ll try it again and I’ll have to try it again sometime soon but for now, I think I’ve found my limit. It’s 5am and no earlier. 

How do people manage any earlier?

If you get up at 5am, good things happen

I’ve been saying that this isn’t a universal truth: I get up to write at 5am because it unfortunately happens to be when I write the best. Cannot tell you how much I loathe and resent that fact but I also can’t deny it.

Except I often try and most especially I try to tell you that you need to find your best time, whenever it is.

But now I’m going to say no, it’s 5am. Universally. Or near enough.

I am still, unbelievably, struggling because of a virus I had months ago: the actual virus is long gone but the knock-on effect of its seven weeks is very definitely not. There are things still not done because of it and, I think even worse, the weight of those things is crippling. I never fail to get up at 5am weekdays if I’ve told myself I will, but I have very often decided the night before that I won’t. Maybe the reason I’m feeling so weighed down is a lack of sleep: you have to reckon that early morning starts and reasonably late night finishes are bad for you, are cumulatively bad.


I’ve found that if I lie in to 7am then it is at least 8am, very often 9am, before I start working.

That’s four hours behind before I’ve even started. There was one day recently that this feeling made me somewhat mad with myself and I roared through the rest of the day working very well, very quickly, very effectively. But otherwise, no. It’s a slog and I get done far less than I need. That just adds to the weight.

Plus, there is something weirdly cosmic about this 5am thing. A version of that headline up there has become a litany, it is something I have said aloud to myself and others: “If I get up at 5am, good things happen”. They really do. I’ve had unexpected work offers that were terribly interesting, I’ve had pitches go unexpectedly well. The offers didn’t come at 5am, the pitches didn’t go well at 5am, but on days when that’s when I got up, that’s when those things happen.

I can’t accept anything cosmic – not in that sense – so I can easily and will readily rationalise that I dealt with people better when the weight was off my back a bit. I’d be receptive and listening when something came up and that quickly nurtured it into something big and real.

All of this is nuts and bananas if you’re working 9-5 somewhere, if you’re working a night shift somewhere else or if you’re a parent who is therefore working 24 hours a day. It isn’t anything but sensible if you’re full-time self-employed freelance and I am: I hope that you can do this silly thing with me, I know that there is no excuse for me not to.

So while this will be posted around 11am today, I’m writing it now at 05:25. Had a very bad night, totally crap night and when the alarm went off I was having a dream where someone said: “It’s so sad, she’s just phoned to say -“. I long to know where that line was going, I don’t even know who ‘she’ was in the dream, but it’s gone forever.

Okay, if you get up at 5:01 then good things happen and your dream can finish its thought.

When and how to work through the night

That is, how you can do this when you really have to, when it’s an emergency. Not when you work the nightshift anyway, that’s a whole different bag of hurt. But for deadline-induced all-nighters, Lifehacker has some cautious advice.

Denying your body sleep is naturally unhealthy. As such, there’s one rule above all others for pulling an all-nighter: don’t. Obviously, that’s not always the most practical solution and some days you just have to work late. However, you should always keep in mind that reducing your amount of sleep takes a toll on your body. If minimizing sleep is a part of your typical routine, you’re going to ruin any of the productivity benefits you’d gain with those extra few hours.

All-nighters are also not great for your memory, attention, or focus the following day. Staying up til 4am to study for a test at 8am is a bad idea. Just because you spent all night reading words on pages doesn’t mean your brain retained the information. If you need to function the following day, cut your losses—or at least compromise and get some sleep.

There are still some situations where staying up all night might not kill any benefit you would otherwise gain.

How to Pull an Effective All-Nighter – Eric Ravenscraft, Lifehacker (30 April 2014)

Those situations include how your next day is going to be, whether it’s a light day once you’ve delivered on that deadline. But there is more: do have a read of the full piece.