Stop hitting the snooze button and get better sleep, says neuroscientist

Avoiding that post-dinner espresso might help too, even if it’s decaf

Olivia Petter
Tuesday 12 September 2017 10:04 BST

Hitting the snooze button repeatedly inflicts “cardiovascular assault” on the body and abuses your nervous system, a neuroscientist has warned.

Professor Matthew Walker, who teaches at the University of California’s Centre for Human Sleep Science, has issued a slew of advice for people who struggle nodding off, as it’s revealed that 39 per cent of Brits sleep for less than seven hours each night – despite mainstream research recommending a minimum of eight.

Sleeping for less than six or seven hours a night has been linked to a myriad of health problems, including depression, Alzheimer’s and anxiety. Not to mention the numerous studies which link sleep deprivation to weight gain.

In addition to abandoning the snooze button, Walker also strongly advises against taking power naps and drinking decaf coffee.

Given that caffeine inactivates the chemical in our brains that helps us get to sleep - adenosine - the sleep science director strongly advises against drinking caffeine after dinner, explaining on the Mail Online that more than half of the caffeine content remains in your brain into the wee hours, long after you drank it.

He added that decaf coffee is not much better, as it typically contains up to a third of the caffeine dose as regular coffee – meaning that three cups of the decaf stuff are just as harmful to your sleep as one normal cuppa Joe.

As for power naps? They're not much better, the professor explained. They reflect a “biphasic” sleeping pattern which mimics that of a hunter-gatherer tribe in Kenya, Walker explained, whereby people combine seven hours of sleep at night with a 30 to 60 minute nap during the day.

Known in some European cultures as a siesta, Walker explains that while napping may momentarily boost alertness, it cannot support complex cognitive functions – such as decision making and emotional stability - in the long run.

However, hitting the snooze button on your alarm clock may be the worst offender when it comes to sleep deprivation, Walker explained.

“If alarming your heart, quite literally, were not bad enough, using the snooze feature means you will repeatedly inflict that cardiovascular assault again and again within a short span of time,” he said.

If you use an alarm clock, the professor suggests disabling the snooze function and adapting to waking up at the first sound of your alarm.

Rise and shine, people.

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