The first time I noticed the pattern of the Nine Times Table, I was in high school. The alarm went off that morning and I rolled over to look at the clock. 7 a.m. I had time. I hit the snooze button and rolled over.

7:09 a.m. Hit the button one more time and went back to sleep. 7:18 a.m. I was awake, but not ready to get up yet. So, I hit the button again and just laid there staring at the clock. For the rest of the hour, I laid there daydreaming and looking at the clock. \Every nine minutes the alarm went off and I hit the button and watched the time tick away and kept hitting the snooze. 7:27 a.m. 7:36 a.m. 7:45 a.m.

It was at 7:54 a.m. that the pattern tickled my brain. Something about seeing :45 and then :54 clicked and my brain noticed they both added to nine. Nine-minute intervals — nine times table. I pictured the numbers and was amazed I hadn’t noticed before — 09, 18, 27, 36, 45, 54, 63, 72, 81, 90. See it? It’s been a math shortcut I use often ever since. I’ve taught it to countless students. It is one of those “aha” moments. Strange what nine minutes can reveal.

Nine minutes. 540 seconds. So short a time can have such a big impact.

I’ve also often wondered, why nine minutes? Why is that the agreed upon amount of time to catch a little extra sleep? It can’t be arbitrary. A little Internet sleuthing turned up an article on the site Mental Floss that explained it comes from the time before digital clocks. Because of the gears in the standard clock, the snooze could only be set for around nine minutes or around 10. Ten was deemed too long, so here we are.

I can see their point. Ten minutes would probably be too much. Nine minutes though, it can really go either way. It can be refreshing or irritating.

Ever had one of those times where you fall back asleep, but you are just awake enough to think you are all the way awake? You think you are going through your morning routine when you are really just as snuggled up in bed as usual. Then the alarm goes off again and you wake up for real only to realize you weren’t as productive as you thought.

Nine minutes can be deceptively long. Maybe it’s one of those days when you barely crack consciousness enough to hit the button in the first place. As soon as that blasted buzzer is silenced, your brain instantly plunges back into the inky depths of sleep. Before you even get a chance to luxuriate in the bliss of slumber, there it is again. Blaring into your consciousness like a like the air horn millimeters from your ear. Nine minutes can be cruelly short.

Nine minutes. 540 seconds. So short a time can have such a big impact.

Nine minutes. That’s how long Gregory Floyd fought for breath. Nine minutes.

Nine minutes. That’s how long the police officer in Minneapolis knelt with what appears to be his full body weight on his neck and looked nonchalantly at the person videotaping what many see as a crime. Nine minutes.

Nine minutes. That’s how long Gregory Floyd pleaded for his life in between guttural gasps for air. Nine minutes.

Nine minutes. That’s how long Gregory Floyd cried out for help from anyone who could offer him mercy as three other officers stood silently complicit in his death. Nine minutes.

Nine minutes. That’s how long it took Gregory Floyd to go from a regular human being living his life to a hashtag. Nine minutes.

Nine minutes. He coughed and gagged. Nine minutes. He lay immobilized and terrified. Nine minutes. A blink of an eye and an eternity.

As heartbreaking as the incident is in totality, it is achingly tragic to hear him call out to his deceased mother for help as he felt his life slipping away. It is unfathomable to learn it was the anniversary of her death.

Nine minutes. One snooze. A life gone.

I will think of that nine-minute reprieve differently now. Just like I think of Skittles and tea differently. Just like I think of sending my son out for a jog differently. I will add nine minutes to the many other mundane life items that shouldn’t even disrupt my train of thought, but have become a weird memorial in my consciousness. As much as I want to hit that button, I’m reminded once again this country does not afford me the luxury to snooze. Like I tell my son every time he leaves my sight, I’ve got to keep my head on a swivel. I can rest, but I cannot sleep. We cannot.

We cannot be tired, desensitized, worn down and defeated. I challenge us to not hit the snooze bar. Nine minutes is too long to wait. The alarm is ringing. Wake up. And let’s get to work.

— Mariel Blake is a Daily News columnist. She can be reached at