Waking up without an alarm: 7+ years of living the dream


Image: "Flaming June" by Lord Frederic Leighton (1895). via Wikimedia Commons

Since everyone is reporting on their long-term self-experimentation this week*, I thought I'd share my own major breakthrough. I strongly believe that waking yourself up with alarms is extremely bad for your health, creativity and productiveness.

I'm coming up on the 8th anniversary of my decision to eschew alarm clocks. It started when I noticed that I often awoke before my alarm went off anyway. After reading an article about ten years ago in Nature on timing the end of nocturnal sleep (PMID: 9892349), I gave alarms up in 2003 and have not looked back. I decided to try working without a net, and after some trial and error, I found what works for me. I have never overslept (a problematic word, IMHO) or missed anything important. Details after the break.

Here are the basics:

  1. I have no clock in my bedroom.
  2. I do not keep a watch or phone in my bedroom.
  3. I do not have a TV or computer in my bedroom.
  4. I use a very heavy window curtain so I can't tell what time it is.

Here is what I have found:

  1. It forces me to get the kind of good night's sleep championed by Mark, Xeni, and Arianna Huffington.
  2. I go to bed sooner, especially if I have something important the next morning.
  3. I remember my dreams more often.
  4. I feel much sharper in the mornings than I used to.
  5. I do not need caffeine to wake up (though I do drink energy drinks throughout the day)
  6. My skin looks better, especially around and under my eyes.

A few caveats that might affect your own results:

  1. The biggest leap of faith was not setting an alarm before a morning flight. To this day, I still often stay up until my flight, then sleep on the plane.
  2. I have never had any problems with insomnia, and I sleep pretty heavily.
  3. I do use my phone's audible reminder feature throughout the day when I have a call or other obligation.
  4. I do occasionally get a feline wakeup call, similar to the one shown here. These are on no discernible schedule.
A few friends who couldn't make the no-alarm thing work switched to those sunrise alarms and were pleased. I tried one out a few times when I was housesitting. One friend's had little bird sounds in addition to a gradually brightening light. Looking online it was probably a Good Morning Sunrise Wake-up Light Alarm Clock with Nature Sounds. She swore by it, and it was certainly not as traumatic as a beep, buzz, or heaven help us, a morning radio DJ.

I still occasionally put on this Liquid Mind: Sleep album I mentioned last year, which is very relaxing to me. Brian Eno's ambient stuff would probably do the trick, too. If you have a week where you can go to bed early, I recommend giving it a shot. The main thing is not to worry about waking up. That will let you complete your sleep cycle and leave you feeling a lot less stressed. It's like being on vacation all the time - no alarms!

* BTW, I never use bar soap, but unlike Sean and Mark, I smell like a nerdy hippie chick. A little gamey, but not revolting.


  1. I’ve been waking up without an alarm clock for 20+ years now. Interesting to see that I’m not alone, though honestly, it does hurt my ego a bit to find out that I’m not the lone clockless wonder I’ve always imagined myself. :)

  2. The French mathematician de Moivre did this. Without going into details on his experience (look it up!), if you find yourself needing a few extra minutes of sleep each day, watch out.

  3. well… no doubt this will trigger the same kind of reaction… “where’s your science?”, “it doesn’t work for me”….etc…
    I think one of the most successful things about getting to sleep early is turning off your electronics at an early time. It’s easier to wake up early without an alarm when you have decent amounts of sleep. It as been discussed that computer//tv’s and the light they emit are detrimental to our chemical balances for sleep. Particularly with laptops in bed – a light shining right in your eye from 12 inches away.
    I think there’s a strong argument to be made for no visual interactions with electronics at night.
    and yes…. this is not scientifically proven. It’s some scientific evidence and some experience.
    You know…. like most of life.

  4. I sleep through most alarm clocks, and not using one is not an option. I would just sleep on.

    I use an electric guitar leaning against a (JBL Eon powered 250 watt) speaker turned up to max. The amp is on a timer plug.

    Waking up to 250 watts of screaming feedback does the trick for me.

    Brutal, but effective.

    1. shashi2005’s trick with the guitar set to turn on and feedback on a timer: Brilliant,though I live in an apartment and couldn’t pull it off.

    2. shashi2005, for the world’s greatest, m&@#f$%^ing epic win . . . .

      I like On Land as much as the next guy, maybe moreso, but if I were to go to an ambient musical alarm in the early AM, it would probably be with something more like Sunn O))).

      No offense to the author, but if you gotta wake at all, you might as well be bludgeoned.

    3. @shashi2005: Brutal indeed! Perhaps the most brutal I have ever heard of!

      I believe it was Jeff Foxworthy who suggested creating a barf sound-effect alarm (barfing cat or baby) which would jolt him from a dead sleep. I know someone who put sharp stuff on the floor between him and the alarm so he’d have to step on it to turn off the alarm. What a nightmare!

  5. I can’t quite bring myself to lose the alarm completely, but I’ve been using an iPhone app called Sleepcycle with some success. It uses the gyro/motion abilities of the phone to track your sleep cycles. It will then look for the point where you are most awake in the half hour leading up to your alarm time to wake you.

    It does something clever with the snooze function too, managing to fit them all in before the set alarm time. I’ve found it much more pleasant than being jarred from sleep by a regular alarm.

  6. I did this since I dropped out from school. That’s 25 years now. I still set the alarm about 4-5 time a year for important appointments, although I know that I will mostly wake up in time. I hate alarm clocks. Sometimes the cat wakes me up but I don’t mind. Other times, the postman, garbagemen or some noisy fellow outside my window. In my schooldays and in the short period when I worked early, I felt like I was asleep all day.

  7. The combo of admitting to smelling ‘a little gamey’ and being on an airplane is giving me the creeping horrors.

    Please break out the soap when you’re gonna be in confined spaces with other humans. For the children. And teens. And adults. And elderly.

  8. And you can get the same results by using an alarm clock that monitors your sleep phases, and wakes you only in a lighter one.

  9. I usually wake up before my alarm too, or when my 7 year old comes in with whatever fear-of-the-week it is (vampires, darth vader, mr. burns). But if I don’t set my alarm I will wake up frequently through the night and try to figure out what time it is.

    Having the alarm allows me to sleep soundly.

    1. That sounds incredibly familiar, right down to the 7-year-old. When she was a baby, her sleep cycles used to be incredibly predictable, to the point that her father basically used her as his alarm clock. Then one morning, she kept sleeping past the time she would usually wake up and he was late for work. :) She’s still fairly predictable, but seems to be developing my tendency to stay up late and sleep in. Most mornings I have to wake her up for school.

  10. Many similarities here… doing the no soap thing… no alarms… and Liquid Mind is the musical genesis and background of our 5-year relationship, mostly while awake… even works during shared horizontality :-)

  11. To Andrea:
    To what extent would you say this possible because of your personal schedule? You work as a writer so I’m guess you choose your own work day or at least have some flexability around your work hours. How well would this work if say you had a strict start time varying from 7:30 to 9:30 (on a timetable not set by you) and had to use public transport to get there. Where being late would lead to docked wages or after just a few times disciplinary measures?
    I’m not asking this to be agressive or accusitory, but genuinely curious if you think that this is practical for everyone?

    That sounds great, looking there seems to be something similar for ‘droid but wonder about the practicalities of it? Do you have to sleep with it “on” you so it can pick up movements with the accelerometer? I generally charge my phone at night so am curious how that works practically?

    1. How well would this work if say you had a strict start time varying from 7:30 to 9:30 (on a timetable not set by you) and had to use public transport to get there.

      I’ve worked in such conditions. Note that it’s not a XOR choice: you can set the alarm anyway, time your sleep so that your cycles will end, say, 20 mins earlier, and then wake up before the alarm. After you’re confident with your sleep patterns, you can try disabling the alarm.
      To be honest, presence of the alarm is irrelevant; the important bit is that you wake up at the end of a cycle, it’ll make you feel much better regardless of how you do it.

      1) 3-hrs cycles are the most common, but yours might be a bit different.
      2) the cycle starts when you actually fall asleep.
      3) caffeine is a big factor. I stopped drinking coffee in the morning about the same time I set to stabilize my sleep patterns, after a few weeks of “zombie life” I was ok.

      1. the point is, in this setting, regular sleep cycles can’t be established or maintained when your wake time varies by so much (only 2 hours is a luxury, mine vary by at least 4 hours over a week).

    2. Yes, the app needs to be on and in the foreground. It shuts the display off after a couple of seconds. Like you I tend to leave my phone on charge overnight, so drained batteries haven’t been an issue.

    3. @ikkleste, @Csteph — I use Gentle Alarm on android; it doesn’t try to figure your cycles but instead just gives you a gentle alarm half an hour before your main alarm — in principle because it’s better to be woken early in the right part of your sleep cycle rather than later when you’re in deep sleep. Works well for me.

    4. @ikkleste: I believe my irregular schedule may actually make no-alarm sleeping harder. One important element for most people is waking at the same time each day. This can be tough if you have variables, whether it’s children, pets, noisy neighbors, a rotating shift job, or different daily schedules. If I had to get up at 6:30 am every day, I believe adjustment might be easier. With an irregular schedule, there’s a temptation to mix things up and sleep when you’re tired. Sometimes I’ll say up 20 or 24 hours, then have a long sleep. Other times I’ll sleep a few hours, wake a few hours, then repeat that. When I know I have a commitment, I sort of have to map out a plan to make sure I’ll be awake at the right time.

      As others with regular work schedules note above, it is possible regardless of schedule, though.

  12. I do have a clock in my bedroom (actually, two), but I never set the alarm. This is because I have to wake up earlier than my wife, so I’d rather let her sleep.

    I’ve noticed that I’ll just wake up on my own after 6 hours, at least to get a quick look at the clock. I really do sleep in 3-hr cycles, so I just need to time accordingly.

    Occasionally, if I’m particularly worried about waking up at a certain time, I’ll be able to wake mid-cycle, but my body won’t like it. I do set the alarm for morning flights, but most times I just wake up earlier and disable it before it can ring.

    Unfortunately, this only works for me after 6 hours of sleep, and to be honest I think it really started less than 10 years ago, after my early twenties.

    My wife finds it harder to get regular sleep patterns, and she’ll wake up as soon as light gets through the window. I’m very tempted to buy her one of those natural-light clocks.

    (Note: this is very different from “not washing” or “not vaccinating”, where your actions affect the environment and your fellow man as well as yourself.)

  13. Sorry to hop in with personal anecdotes, but quality-of-sleep is something they never taught us in elementary school – they should! – and this issue has been growing worse over the years. Reading about sleep may provide clues that seem self-evident to others but that I’ve missed.

    I’d love to be able to wake up like this – my spouse does, and so does my sibling. Not me, though; I’m firmly, if involuntarily, in the other camp. No alarm? I sleep until 1200. This cascades; up too late, sleep until 1300. 1400. 1500.

    If just the quality of sleep were good, but no. I sleep deep, but after waking up, the first few hours are zombie-mode, then there are a couple of hours of lucidity, then late-day fuzzy time. Gets worse the longer I sleep, and is just as bad as too little sleep.

    Judicious experimentation by the spouse indicates, however, that exposure to sunlight leads to gradual and mostly painless awareness 30-40 minutes later. Not pressing it seems to be key: clawing – or jolting – myself to consciousness brings about a bad day, but easing in leaves me capable of coping.

    Next in line for experimentation: one of those sleep cycle aware gadgets, or light waker. Too bad sunshine lamps don’t seem to be aware with clock mechanisms and gradual brightening. Their lesser cousins, light alarm clocks, aren’t nearly as radiant.

  14. i’ve been getting up between 4:30-5 am without using an alarm for almost 15 years. i’m still not at the point of taking the clock out of the room, until recently, it was a get to work every day thing, not a dare or experiment.

  15. I was made redundant in 2007. I worked as a Graphic Designer for 12 years and after flirting with freelance in offices for several months (still involving the alarm clock, winter mornings and severely impaired morning tiredness) I decided to find other ways of finding money. I now sell a bunch of stuff I’ve created over the years on-line through various outlets (iStockphoto, Cafepress, Ript, Society6, Bandcamp, iTunes etc). It pays the bills and leaves a little spending money at the end of the month. The main benefit of course is no alarm. No restriction to my sleeping. My run up to redundancy ended in me requiring I have my Gaul Bladder removed which had grown into my liver. I also had gout for around a year which preceded my other health issues. I now honestly feel the pressured job and stressful environment I was subjected to was down to lack of rest. I now only use an alarm to hit important meetings and it still hits me like a hammer every time. Certainly I work long hours but I also sleep as long as required to off set any stress I amass.

  16. Very cool! I’m not sure this would work for me, though, because I work as a producer of a lot of major events, with many months of crazy intense working 7 days a week, 15+ hours a day, and I lose any concept of time. (of course in the most stressful months I can’t even sleep well, as I just dream about work, which makes me even more exhausted…)

    In general I’m a very good sleeper, though, and as a rule I try to get a minimum of 8 hours every night. I tend to fall asleep within 5-10 minutes of going to bed and only wake up the next morning. My alarm doesn’t bother me at all, either. I like having it so I don’t have to worry about the time, and I also really hate the feeling of being rushed/late in the morning – it makes me even more stressed out. Personally I prefer being woken up by the alarm and being able to take my time with breakfast/showering before going to work.

  17. This is going to sound a little funny but here’s a tip that really, really works! My wife heard it from a schoolmate, and we’ve sort of spread it around:

    Tell your pillow when you want to wake up – then you will wake up at that time! Surprisingly, this works!

    Give it a shot – even if you use an alarm, just tell your pillow to wake you up sometime before the alarm – or try it on the weekend. It’s amazing!

    1. As a kid reading a James Bond novel, I was struck by that: he decided he would be awake at a certain time the next morning, and he was. I tried it. It worked. I am sure it’s a matter of confidence in oneself; I can imagine someone sabotaging themselves, and compounding their guilt/pain.

  18. I haven’t used an alarm for about 15 years… the only thing it does to me is make me late for work often. Does it do my health any good? I don’t know.

  19. I, too, have eschewed alarm clocks and I remember my dreams better, follow my own internal clock better and sleep better and with more regular patterns (and am more mindful of my schedule). Human beings are intelligent, if you have to wake early the next day you will get to sleep earlier.

  20. I tried that once when I was unemployed. Spent the whole day either in my room with cable tv/internet/video games or went to the local mall. I ate meals when I was hungry (I cooked my own food), not because it was meal time. My weight was stable the entire time.

    I found out that with the pressure to stay up due to tv/internet/video games, my cicardian rythm is greater than 24 hrs. I started out with my usual bedtime of before midnight, then it became after midnight, then early am then sunrise, etc etc until i was able to make a few complete circuits

  21. I think the part that those of us that don’t use an alarm are forgetting to mention is that going to bed at a reasonable time or a set time every night is a critical part of the no wake up alarm lifestyle. If you go sleepless some nights or have a very erratic evening schedule, then this may not be the best for you. For everyone else with a manageable evening schedule, try to get to bed at a reasonable bedtime where you’ll get your wonderful 7.5 hrs of sleep and do this consistently and you should do great.

    Like most things this may take some time to adjust and not everyone is the same. Also I’d like to add that a big part of controlling your mood and mental state throughout the days is getting a good night’s rest. In fact, for those BBers that are feeling down in the dumps, getting 7.5 hrs of sleep has been shown to decrease your happiness level by a third.

    1. No. If you’re used to getting up at a regular time, it doesn’t matter what time you go to bed (except perhaps extreme case). Your body/mind will wake up at regular time.

      Even if I have to get up at a non-regular time, I can just think about what time I need to get up, and do without fail.

      If someone truly has irregular schedules/shifts, I agree that an alarm might be needed.

      Actually, I think the more important thing isn’t going to bed early, but getting up early. People who use alarms like to cut it close (get up at last minute). But if you get in the habit of getting up early, then even if your waking varies by 20 minutes it is no problem.

  22. As I pulled into the gas station this morning, around 5:45am or so, my ears perked up when the Marketplace Morning Report’s closing fluff piece opened with, “I came across a blog this morning on the website BoingBoing, by writer and producer Andrea James, who touts the benefits of doing away with the alarm clock.” (It’s 6:35 into this file) As you might imagine, the anchor was not a believer: “I’m going to keep my 5 alarms handy, just in case” ;-) Had to laugh when the local anchor opened the following segment by remarking that she always hit the snooze button at least once, as part of her ritual 3:15am awakening.

    Climbed out of the truck to fuel up, still chuckling. The snowplow driver next to me was laughing, too. “Something tells me Andrea James isn’t working 3 jobs with middle-school kids at home; must be nice.” I agreed, but with a wink.

  23. I always wake up a few minutes before my alarm goes off. The important part is, that I have to set an alarm clock or else I will oversleep or wake up at another random time. Sounds bizarre but I’ve tested it on multiple times.

    At first I thought it had something to do with the mechanics and electronics of the alarm clock (that perhaps the clock makes a small noise a minute before the alarm), but I’ve used differents alarms (hotel room clock, cell phone, mechanical and electronic clocks, radio alarm…) and tried it for different times (5:30, 6:30 even 8:42!), I still wake up 1 minute before the alarm. On condition, that I’ve had at least 5-6 hours of sleep (I normally sleep about 7-8 hours).

    The only thing I’ve never tried, is crossing multiple time zones (I’ve only been to +/- 1 hour to my own time zone).

    1. Actually, you’ve hit on an important point — people (like me) who don’t use alarms do in fact “set an alarm” in our brains before going to sleep. In other words, before going to sleep I briefly remind myself or sort of visualize when I need to wake up. In your “experiments” what happened was the act of setting your alarm was giving you the consciousness to set your internal alarm.

      So I think the reason some people think they need alarms to get up at regular time is that when they don’t use an alarm they just sort of zonk out without properly setting the intention in their brain.

      1. Jabelar, and others able to awaken on schedule:

        Out of interest, how good is your sense of time in general?
        Do you use a clock in timing your routines? If you’re asked the time, do you get it close, even when you haven’t glanced at the watch for a few hours?

        For comparison: without any reference, I’m completely clueless of time. If the sun is up, I can guess within 2-3 hours. If I’ve seen the time within the last hour, I can guess with maybe 15 min accuracy.

        Further, how close is your circadian rhythm to 24 hours?

        I’m quite convinced we have a fairly good built-in clock, but some of us can’t read it… no reliable pillow-whispered wake-ups for me.

  24. After being convinced to give up shoes, shampoo, and now alarm clocks, I’m going to get a jump on the rest of the BB postings for 2011 and give up toothpaste and toilet paper, and I’m going to throw away my eyeglasses and all my utensils. 2011 will be the year of living in glorious a natural state! or of sitting alone in the dark, barefoot, smelly and gumming baked beans that I’ve scooped from a tin with my hands…

    1. Actually, doing away with toilet paper isn’t such a bad thing. After extensive travels in Asia I came to love using the toilet shower instead. (Especially after extensive periods of travel stomach).

      1. After extensive travels in Asia I came to love using the toilet shower instead.

        The correct term is a bumgun.

        No extensive period required — I was convinced on the first squirt. They’ve had them everywhere I’ve been outside of ‘the west’, and the adjustment back to paper is always a disagreeable process.

        Or at least it was, until I brought one home and plumbed it in.

    2. “…gumming baked beans that I’ve scooped from a tin with my hands…”

      So you’re not giving up tin openers? Lightweight.

  25. I did this when I was a student and it was great. Didn’t use an alarm clock usually got up early although i would oversleep every so often. I remembered my dreams less during this time (although its only when I am very tired or sleeping in unusal patterns do i regularly remember dreams)
    I am still confident after sleeping and waking patterns I operate best when being able to get to sleep between 1-2am and wake between 9-10am if i could operate like that i’d be happy but unfortunately the stupid world has set 9-5 as the working day and made the concept of commuting acceptable and rather stupidly if you ask me

    However, moving home joining the real world and getting a job where I needed to get up early, leave by a specific time to get there on time put an end to it.
    that and the winter, at home i always sleep with the curtains open as at home i have an east facing window and i dont need an alarm during summer as i am woken up by the sun at dawn and unless i have really not had much sleep that is a great way to wake up. moving into winter this has proved a problem as i simply want to wake up when its light enough, which is too late even if there is enough light to wake me.

    Try going for a few weeks and having to wake up every weekday at 6 or 6:30 am and then tell me its a practical way.

  26. I ususally wake up around 8 if I have no alarm set, but if I remind myself before I go to sleep that I need to wake up early, I’ll be up at 5 easily. the probelm is I can’t fine-tune it. It’s either 8:30 or 4:30, no inbetween.

  27. Another approach is to have children. Our youngest (now 4) has woken up at 6:30 like clockwork since she was very small.

    1. I wouldn’t give a blanket recommendation for having kids as your alarm clock. If you got lucky and your kid sleeps through the night all the time, then sure, let your little one be your alarm. If, however, you have a kid that’s a crap sleeper, like mine usually is, you’d be screwed if you tried to let him be your alarm. At 20 months, I get a full, uninterrupted night of sleep an average of once every three weeks. Last week he slept all the way through the night three nights in a row. I’m now screwed for the next 8 weeks. (Yea! I’ve survived week 1! W00t! /sark)

  28. I don’t currently use an alarm. However, I work overnights from 10pm to 7am, and I go to bed within an hour or two of getting home in the morning. I usually wake up sometime between 2pm and 6pm, depending on when I actually fall asleep and how tired I am. It doesn’t really matter when I get up, since it’s still going to be several hours before I have to be at work. If I had an 8-5 job, I don’t know if I could do this since it would require going to bed at 7pm. I’m too much of a night person.

  29. I find this fascinating. But I’m not sure I get it.

    1) Throw away alarm clock
    2) ???
    3) Profit!

    Andrea, I don’t understand. So you stopped using an alarm clock, but you don’t tell us what you DO use, or what process you do go through.

    So if we wanted to try this out, how would you advise we transition from alarm clock use to alarm independence? How do I get to the point that I’m certain I’ll be up by 6am to be at work by 8?

  30. I find I usually wake up a few minutes before my alarm goes off; it doesn’t so much wake me up as tell me it’s time to get up.

    With all due respect to Ms. James, it would seem her career path is such that life without reference to time is possible. Or even encouraged.

    @#18; I find that the more I eliminate personal hygiene from my daily regimen, the more my daily regimen allows me to eliminate personal hygiene. Next stop; Toilets: Who needs ’em?

  31. I have not used an alarm clock to wake up since the mid-1980’s, and I have never missed anything, and wake up pleasantly each morning, and even if I stay up late, I still wake up a minute before the time I tell myself to wake myself.

    Needing alarm clocks to wake up is nothing but a belief.

    Alarm clocks are cruel devices which harm people.

    1. @Gordon Stark:
      That seems to be individual – left to my own, I wake up several hours after when I ought to get going in the morning. Sure, the brutal wakeup does leave me as a bit of a wreck, but the alternative seems to be arriving in time for lunch. (Which would be lovely, if I could get away with it. Sadly, I need a larger time-overlap with my coworkers.)

  32. Been about 12 years since I ditched the alarm clock. I usually wake between 5:30 and 6:30 am. Yes, you do need to not keep yourself up all hours of the night… but I too have had this nagging feeling that the wake up jolt from an alarm clock likely lowers my life expectancy 1 hour each time.

  33. I’m sure this wouldn’t have worked for me in my 20s (when I would sleep through an alarm clock loud enough to wake my roommates up and piss them off) but it does work for me now. I have a straight-laced and time dependent office job and I don’t use an alarm. My situation seems a bit different though in that I wake up at approximately 5:30am every day regardless of what time I go to sleep. Whether that time is 9:30pm or 2am. I just have to make sure that it’s closer to the 9:30pm mark or else I’m a sleep deprived wreck the next day. Most of the time the early wake up is a blessing though occasionally it’s a curse.

  34. I rarely set the alarm on my bedside clock. I find that my cats are very reliable to the purpose of waking me up, but I have to calibrate them occasionally, especially at the daylight savings time transitions. “Calibrate the cats,” is an entry on my calendar for those biannual events.

  35. I use an alarm only if I need to get up early, but I still wake up before it 9 times out of 10 anyway. I wake up at the same time mostly regardless of when I go to sleep, and I can adjust that time with little effort. I snore pretty loudly, but I don’t wake myself up, yet I’m a light sleeper – I’ll wake up to any light unusual noise. I usually fall asleep within a minute or two of going to bed.

    I’m totally on board with alarms being bad, if not for your health, then at least for your psyche.

    Unfortunately, I’m not sure how to get to this state – My wife can’t get to sleep at night, can’t wake up in the morning. We’re currently trying to turn all the lights down at night and having her wake up to *very* bright light in the morning. We’ll see.

  36. DST transitions mess me up for weeks at a time. Christalm has the right idea though; maybe it will get easier if I calibrate the dogs in advance.

    As someone with both narcolepsy and really persistent circadian rhythm dysfunction (coupled with a supervisor who appears to value punctuality and a regular schedule above quality), I have to take a lot of unpleasant drugs and follow a really strict schedule that does not allow for anything resembling what I used to think of as a life.

    The upside is that the alarm clock is basically a bedside reading lamp with a cheap drugstore timer, which goes on shortly after the music or radio starts to play (softly and in another room) as I am already waking up. The dogs are very effective backup if the light fails to wake me There is a clock in my room but it is not visible from my bed. I don’t wear a watch but I have a few clocks that are visible where I need them to keep myself on schedule once I wake up.

    I find the heavy curtains disorienting, but agree with Andrea’s other recommendations — the only things in my bedroom are the bed and a pair of night tables, and I think that the lack of TV, computer, etc. is essential for good sleep.


  37. Light alarms (aka dawn simulators) are amazing. The first battle of my day has always been simply getting out of bed. Having a 60W sunrise every morning means I hit my (audible) alarm clock only once, if at all.

  38. I, too, eschewed the use of an alarm clock years ago. Probably helps that I an extremely early waker by nature and the alarm clock wasn’t really getting me up, but rather it was making a lot of annoying noise while I was already in the process of waking up.

    At some point I simply decided it was against my religion to be forced to wake up before my body was ready to wake up. I do work an office job, but it’s only rare days that I ever slept long enough to be pressed to get in “on time”. And I’ve been fortunate to work at places that are relatively flexible on schedule in the first place.

    And for the last few years, an alarm clock would have been totally redundant given the presence of infants and young persons who are also morning people. :)

  39. I wake up before my alarm almost all the time, but unless I’ve got something more interesting that work to look forward too it doesn’t encourage me to get up. (I know I could leave work earlier if I arrived earlier now, but I don’t know this fact at 8:15.)

    The alarm going off doesn’t encourage me to get up either.

  40. Glad to hear that I’m not the only one.

    I quit using and alarm clock some 30 years ago (after high school).

    My philosophy is go to bed when I’m tired, get up when I’m not. I do not use a clock or hotel wake-up call when traveling. I recently and had no difficulty with the time change. When I go home that was another issue. Fortunately I was off for 5 days when I got back home and I needed the time to adjust back to EST.

    Personally, I’ve not worried about missing flights. Unless I’m fighting a cold, I get up. If I need to go to bed a little earlier (and I’m not tired) I take a pill ore two of Melatonin. Just enough push to go to sleep.

  41. I’ve tried the no-alarm thing, once when I was unemployed for a few months. It works great, except that I found my entire routine slipping a few minutes each day, until I was inverted (up in the evenings, go to sleep in the morning), and then forced a reset by staying up until the next evening. I’ve spent much of my adult life in jobs that require odd hours (NOC engineer/manager, international management, and so on), and suspect my internal clock has been thoroughly confused by all the 3am maintenance windows, international coordination calls, and emergency oncall requests. For the first time in decades I’m now in a job that doesn’t have these nightly interruptions; I may give the alarm-less mode a try. I suspect I like sleeping in and lounging in bed too much, though.

  42. Glad to hear that I’m not the only one.

    I quit using and alarm clock some 30 years ago (after high school).

    My philosophy is go to bed when I’m tired, get up when I’m not. I do not use a clock or hotel wake-up call when traveling. It’s a little more difficult, but I try and schedule my trips so that I have an adjustment built in. I recently and had no difficulty with the time change going there. When I got home, that was another issue. Fortunately I was off for 5 days when I got back home and I needed the time to adjust back to EST.

    Personally, I’ve not worried about missing flights. Unless I’m fighting a cold, I get up. If I need to go to bed a little earlier (and I’m not tired) I take a pill ore two of Melatonin. Just enough push to go to sleep.

  43. My favourite way to wake up is a teasmade with the audio alarm set off. The sound of water boiling is loud enough to wake you up, but soft enough that it eases you into it, after which you have a pot of tea to drink.

  44. I have been self-employed for about 15 years and haven’t been using an alarm to wake up for about 20, and even before that I really haven’t used one because something or someone always woke me up in time, back then. I basically go to bed when I’m tired and wake up whenever I wake up. This means that my sleep pattern is more or less random, but I find that by and large a full cycle is longer than 24 hours for me, because it constantly shifts forward through the day over the course of time. Six hours of sleep is my minimum, seven to eight hours is my comfort zone. If I accidently sleep longer than that, I find that I remain tired for the rest of the day, so I try to avoid that.

    By the way, if you remember your dreams more often, then that isn’t necessarily a good sign. It means you woke up from a dream, maybe even because of the dream, and your sleep was light at that time. The brain’s “standard procedure” is to forget dreams, as a means of mental waste disposal and protection. Remembering more of your dreams means there’s something not quite right.

  45. I first started doing this by running or lifting weights before work. I let the sun wake me in the morning (doesn’t work well in winter obviously) and I would do my exercise before work. Since starting I’ve gotten where I can do this with a dark room and in winter. My body just knows when it’s time to get up. I do have a projection clock on the ceiling so that if I need to see the time I can do so with little effort making it easy to check the time and fall back asleep.

    I still have my night owl ways but actually I find it hard to sleep in on weekends even when I’ve been up late. On those days I take a nap in the afternoon rather than try to sleep in.

    I’ve been doing this many years and the only time I set an alarm is when I’m flying or have switched timezones enough to mess up my internal clock.

  46. Burning With Pride: How I Gave Up Spatulas and Learned to Embrace Pain

    About five years ago I was down on my luck; I had moved to a new apartment and between the increased rent and moving expenses, I didn’t have much money to spare. To compound the problem, I had lost a box of kitchen utensils in the move. I found myself one early morning trying to make a couple of fried eggs, reaching for the spatula and finding only disappointment. But in a flash of inspiration, as I stared at my hand I realized that it is shaped very much like a spatula. Why, I thought to myself, have I succumbed to the pressures of the corporate kitchen culture all these years? Why do I need a spatula made of metal, or worse, plastic? I flipped my eggs that morning using only my bare hand, and while it hurt a bit, I consider that the pain of a “natural kitchen” rebirth. I gave up cooking utensils that day and never looked back.

    You see, the human body was designed to be adaptable. If you use kitchen tools to do things, like grab hot roasts from the oven, stir your curry, or flip hamburgers on the grill, you’re only fighting nature and making yourself soft in the process. That’s not what nature intended; we evolved these paddles at the ends of our arms for a reason! If you use your hands for these tasks, there will be pain at first, and you will blister (sometimes horribly) but eventually you will find that you are developing callouses and that your hands become inured to the pain. Eventually they’ll be completely numb and essentially be just large blackened lumps that you’ll be able to use for just about anything – not just in the kitchen, but even for hammering nails or breaking small rocks. This is the human body refined and evolved. And that’s exactly what the Kitchen Industrial Complex doesn’t want.

    Sure, I still use a whisk or even tongs on occasion, but only when I’m feeling festive. For the most part my kitchen is bare of unnecessary utensils and my friends admire and envy me for my dedication to the cause of self improvement. I recommend you become part of the Natural Kitchen Movement; I think that you’ll find that you feel better about yourself and even come to realize that you are better than everyone else because of it.

    weatherman is an commenter living in Brooklyn. His musings can be found on just about any gadget site and many a culture or politics blog. Because of his commitment to self improvement, he has few friends and no steady work.

    1. I was in the NY area during the post-Christmas storm. Our area had a resultant power outage. Being cold and in the dark – total dark – from about 3:00pm on made it obvious that humans would have hunkered down and gotten a lot more sleep during the winter in earlier times.

      Some people need less sleep, some people can function well on less sleep even if it isn’t optimal to them, and some people are seriously affected by being exposed to light and electronic devices for many hours after sundown.

      The advice I’ve heard that seems to make sense for virtually anyone, regardless of temperament, is to keep the sleeping area as dark as possible. Apparently sound isn’t as crucial as light when it comes to sleep disruption.

    2. @weatherman #43: It’s early in the game, but you are my current front-runner for threadwinner…

  47. I never use an alarm clock. For many years, I lived on the corner of East 5th St and Ave B in the East Village in Manahattan. The first Ave B bus of the morning always hit my corner at the same time, for 25 years. There seems to be a geologic lever that the bus would hit and my top 5th floor walk up aerie would always sway. I became conditioned…but that’s me. Now I live in a truly rural environment, many time zones away from East 5th Street. But I still wake up almost everyday at the same time. I try to use an alarm clock when I have to actually be somewhere at an unreasonable hour…It takes me hours to actually have to drive to anywhere of any bureaucratic import, so sometimes, 7 am isn’t early enough. But just this Tuesday, I had to be in Perigueux at 9 am….I woke up, and started counting, when I reached 60, the alarm went off. But then the nest morning, I slept until 9:15…go figure.

  48. I’ve found I’m pretty accurate at waking up unaided provided I concentrate on the time I need to wake up, just before I go to sleep (I’m pretty sure this is what happens when you ‘tell your pillow’). Most people do it without noticing I think, hence waking up just before the alarm.

    Although I do use an alarm (my evening schedule is non existent), but I’ve found that setting a radio/music player to come on 10-15 mins before my alarm helps me wake up gently.

  49. Why does everyone who does this kind of long term self experimentation tend to generalize their result to everyone and have such a superior, self-satisfied tone?

    “…waking yourself up with alarms is extremely bad for your health, creativity and productiveness.”

    If it works well for your then god bless but give me a break.

    Oh and:

    “…the kind of good night’s sleep championed by…Arianna Huffington.”

    If you take Arianna Huffington’s health advice to heart then you’re not helping your credibility.

    1. I agree with you. My self-experimentation would include having Arianna by my side reading Goodnight Moon until I fall into my dreams.

  50. Back in the day when I did need an alarm, I was lucky enough to find an old art deco clock equipped with an enclosed light that would blink on and off to wake you. I found it interesting how often the blinking light would work into whatever dream I was having at the time. It never failed to get me up.

    I think it would be a great DIY project to build a similar alarm clock with the added capability of starting out as a faint blink and building in intensity over a five minute period. Couple with corresponding sound and you might have a marketable product. (Speaking of which, those dawn simulators someone mentioned seem awfully expensive to me.)

    1. @TheoJr Do you mean something like this? http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/63179?from=SR&feat=sr

      I have to agree with Quiche de Resistance with regards to their first sentence, at least. I’ve always had to get up before I would on my own. Left to my own devices (and not prompted by social activities or some obligation to stay up WAY too late) I go to bed around 11:30pm and wake up around 8am. Unfortunately, I need to be in the office by 8am. I could push my start time out but I’d miss a lot of the important stuff that happens since our busy time is between 7 and 9 am and, while my supervisor gets in late, no one else does so it would make my nervous. So for me, skipping the alarm is just not an option. Especially since if it’s overcast or something I can easily sleep until 9 or 10.

      I need to give one of those dawn simulators a try. Getting up in winter is a lot harder than getting up in summer when it’s already light out. Doesn’t fix the loathesome catching of the bus in the dark but at least my day would start better.

  51. I like getting to the office well before 7am every morning, and couldn’t do it without an alarm clock. I’m a fairly light sleeper, and my hard, dead to the world sleep comes in the very early morning hours. Even with foam ear plugs, it takes very little to wake me prior to say, 2 or 3am. My alarm clock goes off about 5 till 6am.
    Nothing wakes my wife, though. She’s out cold within minutes of hitting the pillow.
    FWIW, I am lights out by 11, usually reading up till that point. I don’t have caffeine after 10am during the work week or much sugar at all.
    Weekends, I let myself wake up naturally after lights out around midnight, though.

  52. My husband tells me that I have what is called an “epic internal clokc.”
    The only time I ever needed an alarm clock is when i was in college, when I was sleep deprived.

    The part that impresses him, though is that I talk in my sleep– and he can ask me in the middle of the night, in my sleep, what time it is, and I can tell him within 15 minutes.

    Completely useless talent, to be able to keep track of time in my sleep, but interesting party trick for the husband

      1. I think the haters who are writing, “I work too hard to do this” are proving a point, exactly. I got horribly sick in my 20’s when I didn’t eat right, didn’t get enough sleep and thought I was going to be able to “do it all.” I can’t. It kills me. No amount of alarm clocks is going to make me better. Only eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep do that.

        So I do what I can do. I make a living. I have a child. But I find time for sleep. If I don’t, all the rest of that suffers.

        The best revenge, they say, is living well, and all the people who are snarking these “personal experiment” threads seem to have much more interest in critiquing other people’s attempts at this than getting on with it themselves.

  53. There’s a movement for breaking up sleep over the course of the day–e.g., you sleep from 2 a.m. until 5 a.m. and then sleep again from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. I have no idea if that works–might be complete b.s.–but one story this reminds me of is how Henry Miller, when working as a copyeditor in Paris, apparently used to take very long naps every afternoon. He swore by them, according to his roommate, and even went so far as to put on pajamas and tell anyone around goodnight. The point of doing it all is that it helps the mind stay more alert on less sleep.

  54. Sounds great, in theory. And in theory, in a perfect world we could all unwind around dusk, the way evolution seemed to want us to.

    However, in the real world, faced with the need to make a living, very few of us have this luxury. Most of us work past dark. Some of us work on shifting school or work schedules. My own schedule dictates I must be up to later than 4am two day a week, 7am the next day, then I can sleep in until I am rested the other days. There is simply no way I can be home and relaxed enough to be in bed by 8am the night before. The price for me to sleep in is severe. So I literally have 3-4 alarm clocks all set (one atomic for accuracy, one battery operated for power failures, one traditional but loud one for heavy sleeping).

    If only the rest of society could live the same schedule as a writer. :-)

  55. I took a 24 hour lamp timer, a lamp and a full spectrum photography bulb to create sunlight in my room at the same time every day. Waking up is a lot less jolting and a lot more effective. I have a pretty regular circadian rythem now.

  56. I have a little different system… I have an alarm set (radio), as soon as it goes I’ll have it shut off in a second. While in bed, however, I refuse to look at the clock, even if I get up to hit the can.

    I find that if I don’t know what time it is I can still get some quality sleep as the wake up time approaches.

    If I do check the clock & it’s within an hour or so of alarm time, I’ll toss and turn til it’s time. If I don’t know I can still get some sleep.

    I also sleep with noise goin’ be it music, TV whatever.

  57. I have not had an alarm for 14 years. First, we got a weimaraner. They wake up at dawn ready to hunt. Now, we have 3 kids under 6. I haven’t overslept since.

  58. Won’t work for those of us who are the human alarm clocks for the household.

    I’m first up. 99.9% of the time, I wake up a few minutes before the alarm goes off. Half an hour later, I wake up teenager #1 and the husband. Half an hour after that, we make sure teenager #2 is up. Everyone can generally get themselves up on time by themselves, but there are occasional failures with serious consequences. Teenager #1 gets to school via a bus that stops at our house. If she were to miss the bus, that would mean a parent has to allocate two hours in the morning to get her to school. If the husband (who doesn’t rely on an alarm) had an insomniac night and then oversleeps, he could miss a critical morning meeting.

    I’ll keep the safety net.

  59. Hmmm I’ve never used an alarm to sleep, because my mother often woke me up, hehehe ye Very interesting article, I like it, ..

  60. I also have given up on alarms, for about 10 years or so now. I *do* keep a clock in my bedroom, but it isn’t backlit… so there has to be ambient light for me to see what time it is. Therefore, I can’t tell in the middle of the night. I used to block my windows out with blinds/blankets when I first started, but gave up on that… I found I started to be able to tell within 15 mins. what time it was by listening to the frequency of traffic outside my apartment in the morning, whether I was doing it consciously or not. So now I just have regular horizontal miniblinds, and can tell what time it is by how much sunlight is coming through them. Most of us have very accurate internal clocks, it’s just a matter of learning to trust them.

  61. I haven’t used an alarm clock since 1993, where I started noticing that I woke up a little before the alarm went off anyway.

    At the time, I was at the university, but since then I’ve held four full-time jobs and been a single parent for more than ten years. Never a problem with getting up in the morning. I don’t even set the alarm if I have to get up at 4AM to catch a plane – the downside of that is that if it’s really important/the tickets were expensive I tend to wake up to check the clock because I’m afraid of oversleeping. As for oversleeping, of course it has happened, but not a lot – I think I can still count it on two hands since I gave up the alarm (that’s 17 years!).

    Alcohol could disrupt this once, but I don’t really drink any more. So there :-)

  62. I lack the self-discipline to be successful at this.

    (And I suspect that many of the nay-sayers are in the same boat.)

  63. Thanks to a brilliant application for mac called Awaken, I have found the perfect way to wake up. I’ve got a playlist of the best tuvan throat singing I could find, and Awaken randomly chooses a track and slowly fades it in over the course of several minutes. From a computer in another room. It’s a gentle wake-up call, but also forces one to get out of bed and physically walk over to the computer to deactivate it. Rather than be blasted awake by the sudden appearance of noise, I sort of slowly become aware of the music playing in the next room. In the morning (or afternoon, as the case may be) it feels like the difference between slamming face first into the ground, or drifting slowly to earth with a parachute.

    If it weren’t for at least SOME kind of wake-up call, I would surely sleep indefinitely.

  64. My job starts at 2pm. I wake up naturallyish: light, cats and wife will usually wake me once I’m ready to be woken.

    Life is good.

  65. I used to live without an alarm when I worked in the bush, and it was fine. Going to be on time is the key.

    That said, I now have young children, and I can never be certain of uninterrupted sleep. And my commute involves a ferry that, while wonderful, only runs every 2 hours. If I miss it I am REALLY late for work.

    As such if I didn’t have an alarm, I would be waking up in a panic every 15 minutes, wondering if I was late. Can’t do it.

  66. So, if I give up drinking, staying up late,living cat free, and sleeping before flights, I can also give up my alarm clock?

    Umm, no I would rather be fun.

    I go alarm free on weekends, holidays, and camping trips. Its really nice, and I could probably keep it up and be healthier, but heck, sleep depreivation is the cornerstone of my industry, so I can now sleep anywhere anytime, and it requires a good alarm to fix that.

  67. Through school, I always hated alarm clocks, and as soon as I had a job (with a flexible schedule), I stopped using them without a second thought.

    Surprisingly, I had mixed results. For the first three months of my new routine, I had a roommate who I also worked with. Because lights outside made my room too bright at night (and blinds were ineffective), I slept on a futon in a closet with the door open. For reasons I still don’t understand, this space was generally dark at night but bright during the day. We agreed on a specific schedule (I think it involved being up at 7), and I found it very easy to keep to.

    After that, my roommate moved away, and I started living on my own in a smaller apartment. I got proper blinds and slept on a proper bed. I went to bed and got up when I felt like it. Left to my own devices, I would get up late in the morning and often would often feel very tired (enough to not function well, but not enough to sleep) during the day. Which is odd because I clearly was dedicating more than enough time to sleep.

    I’ve since set up a light in my room to turn on at a specific time in the morning. This works better, but only if I strictly keep to a specific schedule. If I stay up too late, it can take time to recover. I have a LOT of trouble with that. Sometimes this happens due to external factors beyond my control (such as hearing neighbours watching tv late at night; grr…), or internal factors that I don’t understand. And I have the same problem as vmaldia, “pressure to stay up due to tv/internet/video games”.

    So for me it seems it’s important to keep to a fairly consistent schedule and have some sort of feedback (light works best afaict) to give me an idea of when to wake up, without forcing me to wake up. Having an alarm clock was THE WORST for me, because forcing myself to get up at a specific time each day just built up sleep deprivation each day, and I never really adapted to that schedule. Maybe if you’re better than I am at going to bed at a specific time, it’s not so bad, but it was bad for me.

    I’m now seriously considering returning to the futon in the closet, but I do not understand why that seemed to work better than what I do now. I hope that having a roommate wasn’t the important factor, because that’s harder to fix.

  68. Ehh, maybe it works for some people, but I wake up at 7:30 each day thanks to my alarm, occasionally I will forget to set it and the next day my first sight is a clock reading “10:30” and a sickening feeling in my stomach indicating I’m about to be fired. If I tried this I would get less sleep as I would be constantly fretting over the time throughout the night.

  69. Personally, I work a double shift and need 5 alarms located in different rooms of my apartment to get up and out on time.

    If I didn’t need to work I would have half a dozen clones of Alyson Hannigan wake me gently with a tongue bath (eliminating the need for soap and shampoo) around noon. They would then feed me gently transfer me to a sedan chair and carry me around eliminating the need for shoes and utensils.

    Failing that I’d use this:

  70. Sort of on this topic, talking about sleep and “what the hell did people do before alarm clocks?”, is a book written a few years back by Jeff Warren called, “The Head Trip: Adventures on the Wheel of Consciousness.” In it he talks about a common sleep event, that middle of the night, awake as anything, period. It’s even got a name. It’s called the Watch. I really enjoyed the book. If you like thinking about thinking, and other states of awareness, give it a try.

    1. “what the hell did people do before alarm clocks?”

      A: They had roosters and not much in the way of a set schedule.

  71. I refer to the Watch as “Half Time” and try to convince myself that I’m polyphasic.

    And Andrea, thanks for choosing that image to go along with this article. I had that on the cover of an art history book in college and I’ve loved it ever since.

  72. I do use an alarm clock (too paranoid not to), but I find that I normally wake up about 15 minutes before it goes off. On weekends, when I don’t set it, I still wake up at the same time naturally. The key is to wake up at the same time every day and go to bed at an hour that would allow you to get enough sleep. You’ll feel a lot better, too. I felt a lot more energetic when I started waking up at the same time each day.

    But as far as “self-improvement” goes, all those articles appear to think that there is no middle ground – just two extremes. Either you slather yourself with soap every five minutes, or you never use any even when you’re covered in mud and bicycle grease and stinking to high heaven. Either you use an alarm clock all the time, or you throw it out. There is a middle ground.

  73. God, I hate the sound my alarm clock makes. It was one of those hideous BEEP BEEP BEEP numbers. It fell in the sink (full of water) the other day and I was glad to see it go. Screw buying another one. I don’t have much of a problem waking up on time, but I find if I set my alarm, I will sleep until it goes off just because I can. Then I feel kind of groggy and grumpy.

    Usually the east facing window lights up the room, or the dogs start whining and sticking their cold little noses on me and that does the trick. I find I feel a lot better through the day if I get up and start moving around, doing stuff before work rather than snooze to the last practical second. Unless I’m hungover.

    I DO have the set the alarm on my phone to go off when it’s time to leave for work though. Otherwise my ADD kicks in and I’m late.

  74. i have not used an alarm clock for over 20 years. i simply tell myself what time i need to get up, and i do. i also wake up a good 10 – 15 minutes before i’m supposed to, and just snooze. i have been guilty of snoozing too long, but would it have been any different had i been pounding the snooze button? i do like having a clock (or a watch if i’m travelling) since sometimes i may wake up too early and i want to know how much time i have to snooze).

    i have overslept a few times, but those were extreme cases where i was very ill with the flu, and i probably would have woken up and just called in sick anyway. and a couple of times, i forgot to tell myself what time to get up (you know, the exhausted, dropped my head on the pillow and fell asleep scenario). but again, it would have been the same as forgetting to set an alarm clock.

    it makes no difference what time i have to get up. if i need to be up at 3 or 4 am for flight, i wake up. daylight savings time can throw me off (wake up an hour early in the fall), but in the spring i remind myself i have to get up an hour earlier.

    the weirdest thing is waking up on a weekend when i can sleep in as late as i want to. i have no idea what time it is when i wake up.

  75. I got a Philips Wake Up light last year, after a friend recomended one. It simulates a slow sun rise in the room. You can set an alarm, radio or nature sounds if you want to be really sure you wake up but that’s often not needed.
    I wake up feeling refreshed.
    Going to bed on time and making sure I get atleast 7 to 8 hours of sleep helps aswell.

  76. My parents undertook this groundbreaking experiment of not having alarm clocks when they retired.

  77. when i was a young bloke at sea in the navy we had to keep watches – be available if someone fell overboard or other emergencies- and people were detailed to wake you up when the time came . i read up about mind power and found i could wake up whenever i wanted and did . this was no small matter because it was a serious offence to miss your watch . i seem to have lost the ability now in my dotage .

  78. For me, a device called Sleeptracker did the trick. Its a watch which monitors your sleep cycles and wakes you up in light sleep. Plus it has vibration, so your partner is not disturbed. Worked for me – that was until our baby son was quicker to wake us up than the device, unfortunately :).

  79. I used to love waking up without an alarm clock, but unfortunately it doesn’t happen when people decided I need to be up. Different people are different: not everyone is a morning person, and not everyone’s schedule adjusts easily. Unfortunately, schools and jobs rarely care.

  80. I am truly envious of people who can get a good night sleep so easily.

    I’m a night owl. I find it super difficult to get tired enough to go to bed before midnight. When I do go to bed, I lie awake for about an hour, slowly trying to drift off. Eventually I do get to sleep, but it’s never a quick process.

    So yes, I do use an alarm. Two of them! Both of them are across the room, so I have to get up, walk over, and shut them off. Then I usually crawl back into bed and repeat for a few snooze cycles.

    I did try the “No Alarm” experiment for a while during a three-month unemployment period in 2000, and I confirmed my night owl status to myself. In short, I slept later and later each day, and went to bed later and later each night, until I found equilibrium by waking at around 1 PM, going to bed at around 4 AM. That’s the cycle my body seems to want the most.

    It’s a shame, because I’d really love to be a morning person.

    1. @Twylo:
      You are me, and we need a night-shift job.
      And maybe a union of some sort, to handle the people who think we would naturally wake up bright and fresh with the sunrise if we just tried …

  81. 1. Switch off the light.

    2. Open the curtains.

    3. Go to sleep.

    4. The dawn will wake you.

    It’s an old technology, but it still works.

    1. @sworm: Sunrise today was 09:13. In June it’ll be around 04:00. Neither works especially well for me. ;)

  82. I haven’t used an alarm clock to wake up for over a decade, unless it’s for something like an trip to the airport at 4AM. I now wake up (the first time) between 7:00 and 7:30 like, well clockwork. I get up if I need to, or I hit the virtual snooze button and then wake up between 8:30 and 9:00. Like clockwork. Snooze again? 11:00 to 11:30. It’s magic!

    Here’s the crazy part: If I know I have an early meeting I don’t set an alarm. The existential terror of missing my appointment wakes me up an hour earlier than normal, which is almost always early enough! But if I have a LATE meeting and know I want a little extra sleep I’ll set an alarm, so my sleeping self knows it doesn’t have to get up until AFTER my normal wake-up time. I delgate to the alarm.

    Yes, I use an alarm clock to sleep in. GO FIGURE.

    The best perk? No more playing the “clock’s deliberately fast, fake yourself out” game anymore!

  83. I actually didn’t realize most adults even use alarm clocks regularly. I’ve never used one except for special situations (need to catch a plane early).

    Maybe some people’s internal clocks don’t work well, but I bet most people would (like me) wake up within 5 minutes of when they need to without any alarm.

    Do many people really use alarms on a daily basis for regular schedules? I’m honestly surprised.

  84. There really does seem to be a difference between “night people” and “morning people”, but I’m not sure that’s the whole story.

    My natural sleeping pattern when I didn’t need to wake up was to wake at 1pm ish (where “ish” is a timezone somewhere near me). And I’m sleepy and fuggy most of the day.

    My natural sleeping pattern when I need to be up at 1ish at the latest, is to wake at 10am ish. And I’m happier and perkier.

    So, there’s something more complex going on.

    As a self-identified “night person”, I’ve had to wake early without an alarm a few times, usually while traveling and having to catch planes and stuff, and I’ve woken by a process of “wake about 40% early, check clock, re-sleep, wake 40% of the remaining time earlier, repeat” – with practice, I found that 40% reduced fairly quickly, I guess as my subconscious confidence in my internal alarm clock grows and/or my body matches its rhythms to the sleeping pattern.

  85. Wish I could do this. However, I’m fully capable of sleeping eighteen hours a day, on any day of the week, no matter what time I go to bed.

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