should i go back to bed for 20 minutes or just wake up?
April 24, 2009 5:49 AM   Subscribe

I'll often wake up before my alarm goes off. How much extra sleep is actually useful? Most of the time I wake up about a half hour early and while my impulse is usually to go back to sleep, I wonder if this little sleep is doing me any good once I've broken the sleep cycle. What about 20 minutes? Fifteen? An hour? Would I be better off just getting up and having that much extra time in my day?

In my case, I usually aim for 7 hours of sleep (12:30am to 7:30) so I wonder if this is just my body's way of saying I dont need that much sleep. But in general I'm just wondering if my unconscious brain knows how much sleep I need better than my conscious, alarm-setting brain.

Also, a related question: does hitting the snooze button do us any good or just make us more tired?
posted by minicloud to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
The best metric is how you feel when you wake up. If you feel rested and refreshed (at least, what once you're going... I never bound out of bed, but I can feel pretty good once up and about), you've gotten a fine amount of sleep. If not, try another 30 minutes. No reason to sleep more, though, if you're feeling good with the amount you are getting.
posted by davidnc at 5:53 AM on April 24, 2009

I have the same early waking reaction. It feels like that little lagniappe of sleep is more restful than however many hours I've just woken from, but that may be because I'm conscious of taking just a wee bit more naptime.
posted by catlet at 6:13 AM on April 24, 2009

I agree with davidnc . . . When I'm in a good routine of falling asleep and getting up at the same time I certainly seem to wake up faster. If you haven't seen this piece on the importance of sleep from 60 minutes it's pretty eye opening . . . and at the very least it made me feel less guilty about sleeping in and confirming my suspicion that those people who insist they only need 5 hours a night are full of it.
posted by eggman at 6:13 AM on April 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

does hitting the snooze button do us any good or just make us more tired?

Here's a previous AskMe about that.
posted by burnmp3s at 6:59 AM on April 24, 2009

I'm a chronic snooze-button addict, but just recently started getting up after only 1 snooze, which actually means I'm getting out of bed an hour earlier and am feeling about 100% more energy now (in addition to having an extra hour in the morning).
posted by jquinby at 7:04 AM on April 24, 2009

How zonked are you when you wake up early? If you're still zonked and would be able to fall back to sleep even for a bit, you might as well try to go back to sleep. If you wake up exhausted AND still unable to sleep because your alarm is going to go off in a half hour, that's when you give up and get up. But if you wake up bright-eyed and bushy tailed early, then yeah, I'd guess you don't need the sleep.

But if you wake up early and are still tired in one way or another...I would guess that you are a person who wakes up early in order to avoid the alarm. I totally do this (in my case it's usually an hour beforehand) and it drives me up the wall. I definitely don't get enough rest doing this, but the fear of sleeping through the alarm, and the noise of the alarm shrieking, scares my subconscious enough that it doesn't let me sleep straight until 7 too often.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:30 AM on April 24, 2009

I used to have this problem, but I got a cheapish progressive alarm clock. And that helps my subconscious i think. It lights up slowly before making any noise. I still wake up before it starts beeping, but not as early.
posted by Iax at 1:06 PM on April 24, 2009

I've found that waking to a cd of my choice is a gentle way to move from dreams to wakefulness. My current alarm clock is an RCA which cost $25-30. I like waking to instrumental, and at a low volume, so if I'm ready to wake to the Chopin I will ...and if I need more sleep, I'll doze till my cell phone alarm goes off - alarm set on low volume - 10 minutes later. Then another 10 minutes later. If I turn both of these off and still doze, the music eventually gets through to me (it plays for 1 hour - if the cd is that long). I've found it a very comfortable arrangement. And if I really need to get up and going at the alarm time, I just turn the phone alarm up to medium the night before, and its loudness in the morning reminds me that I really truly need to get up and at 'em!
posted by sparrowdance at 7:45 PM on April 24, 2009

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