Do you have a complicated relationship with the snooze button? [The decorative image shows a woman's hand pressing the snooze button on her alarm clock while she tries to fall back asleep]

Do you have a complicated relationship with the snooze button?

If you do, you’re not alone. The vast majority of my clients have, at some point, lamented the siren call of the snooze button.

While plenty of productivity experts swear you have to get up at 5AM to lead a productive life, I don’t necessarily agree with them. That’s not what this is about.

But what often happens is that the snooze button creates a vicious cycle that begins with the snooze… leads to stress all day because you can never quite catch up, which is exhausting… picks up speed with caffeine and sugar in the afternoon…which makes it hard to get to sleep that night… which makes it hard to wake up when the alarm goes off…

And remember, it’s more important to manage your energy than to manage your time.

So what is it that keeps you hitting that magical button every morning? Perhaps you fit into one of these categories:

1. The Peace Seeker

Those few delicious minutes between sleeping and waking are the only peace you experience all day. You know the second you get moving, it’s all going to rush at you nonstop, and you can’t seem to get motivated to unleash the torrent.

2. The Problem Solver

The second your eyes open that first time, your mind starts racing. Every unresolved tension rushes to the front of your mind, every unanswered question clamors for your attention, and the disturbing news story you read yesterday breaks your heart but you feel like there’s nothing you can do. But in that liminal space of half-dreaming, maybe the answer will come…

3. The Midnight Scroller

You fall into bed exhausted, but your brain won’t shut off, and your hand reaches for your phone as if they’re magnetized to one another. Just a few TikToks will help you relax… then a few more… and suddenly it’s 1AM. When your alarm goes off the next morning, the snooze button feels inevitable. You don’t love the pattern, but how do you quiet your mind enough to fall asleep?

4. The Whac-a-Mole Household

You have little kids, pets, noisy neighbors… You can fall asleep, but if you’re woken during the night, which happens often, you can’t get back to sleep for hours. And 9 times out of 10, you finally fall asleep juuuust before dawn…

Chances are, you’ve experienced elements of each of these. So here are a few questions to help you sort out your complicated relationship with the snooze button.

First, what are you hoping it gives you?

Every so-called time waster we engage in gives us something. Or at least the illusion of something. There’s a reason we reach for them over and over.

When my husband and I returned from our honeymoon in Hawai’i, I had the hardest time getting past the jet lag. I hadn’t found a job in our new city yet, so every morning, I would go back to bed after he left for work, and I’m telling you, it felt better than a massage. It was soooooo relaxing. No wonder it took me a month to get back on East Coast time! I’d been stressed finishing up my old job and planning (and paying for) the wedding, and relaxation was a welcome break.

When you hit that snooze button, what are you really looking for?

Is it giving you that thing? Or, is there a better way to get it?

I would suggest that if you have little kids, or a stressful job, or anything that makes life feel extra demanding, and you find those early morning moments of peace truly restorative, that may be the best way you can get the respite you need. It’s okay to see a little extra time in bed as a part of your self-care. Would calling it that change how you feel about it?

Guilt is exhausting, and in terms of how it drains our energy, it almost doesn’t matter whether we actually have anything to feel guilty about. So if your body needs the rest, eliminating the guilt will actually give you what you need sooner so you can get up and tackle the day.

And other times, the snooze button is a substitute for the thing we really need. It’s low-hanging fruit when what we really want is the view from the treetops. It takes some effort to get up there, but it satisfies in a way that the substitute thing never could.

The answer may be way bigger than just deciding what to do with the first hour of your day. You may realize what you really want is a new job, or more help, or a bed to yourself… Whatever it is that rises to the surface, pay attention, and think about how you can meet the needs your body is communicating to you.

It’s also worth asking, is there anything you’re avoiding? 

This is the other side of the same coin. Sometimes we hit snooze because we know the day is going to ask a lot of us, and we don’t quite feel prepared. Getting specific about the thing you are avoiding can lend clarity. It can help you see the bigger picture, and face some decisions (or discussions) you’ve been putting off.

With this new understanding, how do you feel about your mornings?

What I’ve found in my own experience is that if I need rest, the snooze button really does give me a few extra peaceful moments. But when I’m trying to solve problems—or more likely just analyze them to death—it’s the opposite of restful, and anything but productive. I hit the snooze button because I want it to turn into rest, but if my mind won’t turn off, I’ve come to understand that I’m better off getting up. I can accept that it’s not going to give me the thing I’m looking for.

That acceptance allows me to create an alternate routine. I’ve begun immediately reaching for my headphones and peaceful music while I begin my day. I feed my dogs like usual, then show up on my yoga mat and pray for a few moments before I continue. I’m still learning and growing here, but this helps.

How about you? What insights did you gain? Is there anything you want to change? Or a new perspective you want to try on?

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