It’s easy to love the snooze button: With one touch, you have nine extra minutes of bedtime bliss.
But have you ever wondered why the snooze countdown is that long? Why doesn’t the alarm shut off for 10 minutes? Or five? It all comes down to simple mechanics.
There isn’t a definitive consensus about how the nine-minute timer came about, but most theories suggest it had something to do with the gears in clocks. The devices had already been standardized by the time the snooze feature was introduced in the 1950s, MentalFloss reports. Clock engineers had to work around the existing gear configuration, giving them limited options for the pause. There’s speculation that they had to choose between a snooze that lasted longer than 10 minutes or a more easily programmed nine minutes, according to Pacific Standard.
And thus, the nine-minute snooze was born ― and withstood the test of, well, time. Smartphone creators paid homage to the original snooze setting by defaulting the devices’ alarm clocks to snooze for nine minutes. However, most phones allow users to adjust the time in the settings.
But just because you have the option of using snooze doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. Despite the creators’ best intentions, experts say that any amount of time devoted to snoozing can actually do more harm than good.
The Problem With Hitting Snooze
Drifting off to dreamland after hitting snooze can disrupt your sleep. This could make you feel groggier when you finally wake up than you would have if you had just hopped out of bed with your first alarm.
“The snooze button is the single worst invention for sleep ever,” Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist and sleep expert, previously told HuffPost. “When you hit it, you don’t actually have the opportunity to get back into good, deep, refreshing sleep. You end up with light, fragmented sleep. So what ends up happening is people feel worse and worse the more snoozes they hit.”
Hitting the snooze button can also become habit-forming, sleep researcher and consultant Els van der Helm told HuffPost. A fix for this is to have your intended wake-up time firmly in your mind and to set your alarm for that specific time because your brain prefers uninterrupted sleep.
And if your body is still begging for “just a few more minutes” in the morning, it’s usually a sign that you’re just not getting enough rest, according to Rebecca Robbins, a sleep and behavioral change researcher at the New York University School of Medicine.
You might want to consider adjusting your bedtime, even if it’s just by 10 minutes. That’s the best way to guarantee you’re getting those recommended six to eight hours of sleep every night, Robbins said.
“There’s no pill or no secret cure for consolidating the benefits we derive from sleep into a shorter period of time,” she previously told HuffPost. “We need the time to allow our bodies to move through the different stages of sleep as it naturally does to operate at our peak.”
So, now you know where the nine-minute snooze comes from ― and now it’s time to put that button to bed.