Do you want to start your day off on the right side of the bed? Well, according to faith (and science) one of the best ways to do that is by not hitting that ever tempting snooze button.
What? Can’t I just hit it one more time?
According to Rafael Pelayo, sleep specialist at the Stanford University Sleep Medicine Center, hitting the snooze button can have harmful effects on your health that linger throughout the morning.
“[The] body needs some time to get you ready to wake up. When you let yourself go back to sleep, your body thinks, ‘False alarm! I guess I didn’t need to do anything, because we’re not getting up after all,’ and settles in. When that buzzer goes off a second time…your body and brain are taken by surprise, resulting in that groggy, fuzzy-headed feeling called sleep inertia. The more you snooze, the more confused your body and brain get (‘So are we going back to sleep or not?!’), so you’ll probably feel more out of it even though you actually spent extra time in bed. What’s more, this type of sleep inertia can persist for up to two to four hours.”
Instead of hitting the snooze button, Pelayo “recommends setting your alarm for the time you have to get up and then actually get up when it goes off, every day at the same time. Eventually, this consistency may help you feel naturally sleepy at the end of your day, so you’ll feel compelled to go to bed when your body needs to, and then wake up without the need for an alarm.”
Not surprisingly, what is found in science is also found in faith. Saint Josemaria Escriva is well known for what he called the “heroic minute” that starts the day off by giving it to God. He wrote:
“Many good Christians develop the habit of giving their first thought of the day to God. The ‘heroic minute’ follows: it facilitates the Morning Offering and getting the day off to a good start. The heroic minute. It is the time fixed for getting up. Without hesitation: a supernatural reflection and … up. The heroic minute: here you have a mortification that strengthens your will and does no harm to your body. If, with God’s help, you conquer yourself, you will be well ahead for the rest of the day. It’s so discouraging to find oneself beaten at the first skirmish.” (The Way)
Escriva frames the first moment of the day as a “skirmish” and presents it as the first battle of the day against our own selfish will. Not hitting that snooze button becomes an opportunity to consecrate the first moments of the day to God and helps strengthen other good habits during the rest of the day.
With this first victory, we will feel much more able to take on the day and defeat any other enemies that may come. For example, for someone who is struggling with an addiction (like pornography, alcohol, or drugs), the “heroic minute” becomes a vital part of disciplining the will so that it is easier to say no to a sinful habit (various organizations that help others quit addictions suggest this practice as a starting point).
This also helps us with the battle of daily prayer. If we are able to give to God the very first fruits of our day, there is a greater chance that we will offer to God the remainder of our day.
After hitting that alarm button and forcing yourself out of bed, a worthy practice to do is recite a simple prayer of offering, giving the whole day to God. It can be as simple as, “I give this day to you, Lord” or as complex as The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (Apostleship of Prayer) Morning Offering prayer.
So, if you are looking for a challenge this year, try to not hit the snooze button — it just might change your life.