If you’re hitting the snooze button in the mornings, it might be because you’re chronically tired.

A study published in the journal Sleep suggests that those who use an alarm clock to wake up are more tired than those who wake up naturally.

It’s the “first time” snoozing was “studied in a large population, according to researchers at the University of Notre Dame, who found that 57% of fully-employed, salaried adult white-collar workers snooze their alarms.

“Most of what we know about snoozing is taken from data on sleep, stress or related behaviors. Alarm clocks, smartphones, they all have snooze buttons,” Dr. Stephen Mattingly, lead author of the study, said. 

“The medical establishment is generally against the use of snoozing, but when we went to look at what hard data existed, there was none.”

The study surveyed 450 adults, who were employed full time, and collected data measuring sleep duration and heart rate through wearable devices. 

They found that those who snoozed their alarms experienced more sleep disturbances — and people who woke up naturally slept longer and drank less caffeine during the day. 

Women were 50% more likely to snooze than men, and night owls were more prone to hitting the snooze button and were the most tired.

“In the 9-to-5 world, night owls are losing,” Mattingly said.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that one in three Americans doesn’t get enough sleep.

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“These are people who have been in the workforce for years, white-collar workers with advanced degrees — and 57% of them are snoozing,” Mattingly added. “Critically, these statistics are only representative of a small population that is likely to be in the best position with respect to sleep habits.”

Snooze or not, participants got the same amount of sleep — but those who didn’t use an alarm weren’t taking as many naps and didn’t feel as tired throughout the day.

Using an alarm disrupts a person’s natural sleep cycle, which can end in them feeling more groggy compared to those who wake up on their own, the scientists said. People also have different hormones that circulate in the body when in deep sleep versus right before waking up naturally.

“When you wake up from a REM sleep state, your brain is most of the way to being fully awake. Hormone levels circulating at that stage are going to be different than when you’re in a deep sleep,” Mattingly shared.

Using an alarm disrupts a person’s natural sleep cycle.

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The researchers said that waking naturally causes the body to experience a stress response that makes us feel more alert, and using an alarm bypasses that natural stress response, which inevitably interrupts a sleep cycle.

“We now have the data to prove just how common [snoozing] is — and there is still so much that we do not know. So many people are snoozing because so many people are chronically tired,” Mattingly said. “If only one in three people are sleeping adequately, that means a lot of us are turning to other means to manage fatigue.”

Mattingly also pointed out that there might be benefits to snoozing, such as being more alert when you get behind the wheel to drive to work and reducing dependence on caffeine.

“It’s not uniformly bad — similar to stress. Some stress is good — that’s why we have the fight-or-flight response,” Mattingly admitted. “There are times and places for it. There may be cases when hitting the snooze button is actually beneficial.”

However, it doesn’t matter if you wake up to your first alarm or your third — having to use an alarm in the first place is an indication that you’re too tired.

“Part of the focus of this study was to demystify what is happening with snoozing. Is it really worse than waking up to an alarm on the first ring — is it that much different?” Aaron Striegel, professor of computer science and engineering at Notre Dame, said.

He continued, “The recommendation against an alarm is well-founded, but as far as we can tell from the physiology and our data, waking to one alarm or hitting the snooze button and waking to two or three alarms doesn’t make much of a difference. If you need an alarm because you’re sleep-deprived — that’s the issue.”

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that one in three Americans doesn’t get enough sleep.

While the study proved that fully-employed adults using alarm clocks tend to be more tired, more research needs to be done for other groups.

Researchers also said more research needs to be done on the negative health impacts of snoozing an alarm — but the best advice they can give is to sleep as much as your body needs.

“We have no idea about various age groups such as teenagers, lower-income households or any of the populations that are historically more sleep deprived than the respondents of this study,” Mattingly conceded. “So, the odds are this is probably a conservative estimate of the wider population.”