I'm not waking up when my alarm clock goes off. Help me get alarmed by my alarm again.
October 23, 2011 5:02 AM   Subscribe

I've become immune to my alarm in the morning. Help me train myself to wake up when I have to.

I no longer wake up when my alarm goes off in the morning. I usually use Sleep Tracker or the default alarm on my iPhone, and when it goes off I typically turn it off and sleep another hour.

I work long, unpredictable hours at the kind of place where you can kind of show up whenever so long as you don't have any meetings scheduled. For my own sake, I'd really like to (/feel like I should) get up at the same time every day. Before my current job I was very much a morning person, but now I wake up after 8 every day, even when I make it home before 8pm the night before (my usual hours are from 9 - 9.30 to usually 8 or 9 at night, sometimes earlier, sometimes much later).

The hours are non-negotiable now. I'm a junior and juniors work long hours. I know part of my morning laziness is a desire to stretch out my home time as much as possible, but I need to snap out of it and wake up in the morning, mostly so I can feel like I have more of a routine in my life again.

How can I make myself wake up when the alarm rings?
posted by nerdfish to Health & Fitness (27 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Get a more annoying alarm and/or don't leave it somewhere where you can turn it off without getting out of bed.
posted by skewed at 5:09 AM on October 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

I don't know where you live or how long this problem has been going on, but recently I've been having more and more trouble getting up in the morning mostly due to the sun rising later and later.

Can you find a way to set a light on a timer so it turns on at the same time your alarm goes off.

As mentioned above, a new alarm positioned far enough away that you have to get up to turn it off will help too.
posted by sciencegeek at 5:16 AM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Get the loudest alarm clock you can find, and put it either in the kitchen next to the coffee pot, or the bathroom near the shower.
posted by Houstonian at 5:30 AM on October 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

posted by jon1270 at 5:34 AM on October 23, 2011

If you have light-blocking curtains - and, in any case, before the sun starts rising after your preferred wakeup time - get a dawn-simulator light/alarm, or set a light on a timer, so that you always open your eyes to a lit room when the iPhone alarm goes off.

Change the noise the alarm makes every day; it's less easy to ignore something unfamiliar.

Have something interesting and engaging to do right away. For instance, try getting into the habit of playing a couple of rounds of a fast-paced iPhone game the moment you wake up; the adrenalin will help, and if you're anything like me, the key is to stay awake for five minutes or so to let the rational part of your brain wake up and take charge. (For the first five minutes, it's lizard-brain all the way, and lizard-brain likes sleep, ta.)

Somewhere you can't reach from the bed, perhaps even in another room if you don't have neighbours to disturb, set something to start playing music or speech. If you think you'll just stay in bed enjoying the entertainment, then perhaps choose music you don't like, or a breakfast programme on the radio that you can't stand. Or one in a foreign language, which should either irritate you or engage your brain.

Speaking of foreign languages: from your previous questions, it looks as if you're in the same country as I am. It's starting to get chilly outside now. Try to make sure your bedroom's at a comfortable temperature by the time you wake up; if it's going to be unpleasantly cold when you get out of bed, that's a pretty good demotivator.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 5:35 AM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've trained myself to wake up at whatever time I want WITHOUT an alarm, and I think anyone can do this.

Really- when I was in high school (15 years ago) I used to always sleep through my alarm and wake up too late. Even when the alarm was blaring right next to my ear. I decided to try something different and to try not using an alarm at all.

It works! Before I go to sleep I "set my own alarm" by just telling myself what time I need to wake up and I can do it to the minute. Have been doing this for years and very occasionally I oversleep, but it works much better than an alarm! (and I am not a morning person).

I haven't used an alarm clock since high school; I just don't need it at all.

So, if I can do this, I assume most people can. Maybe you can try.
posted by bearette at 6:10 AM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

I think the problem is that you're not getting enough rest. Long hours like that can take a toll. What time are you going to bed? Are you going right to sleep? Are you getting at least 8-9 hours of sleep each night?
posted by anastasiav at 6:15 AM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Don't use the beeper or buzzer as the alarm. Set the alarm to go off with a radio station, and either pick a blank spot on the dial with lots of static or pick a station with loud music (preferably something you hate). Make sure the volume is nice and loud. The variability of not have the same song wake us up twice cured our alarm clock immunity syndrome. Placing the clock across the room helped too.
posted by brownrd at 6:24 AM on October 23, 2011

Get a cat. :)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:09 AM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

I use the iPhone alarm clock, and set two alarms that are only a couple minutes apart with a short snooze time. I usually hit snooze the first few times but it's just impossible to sleep with an alarm going off every 2-3 mins. My husband is pretty accepting of this alarm routine, believe it or not.

I've tried the Sleep Tracker app that you are talking about, and it was worthless at waking me up. Even having something across the room won't work, because I'll just ignore it or be more likely to accidentally turn it off forever and sleep in. I need a full assault in the morning to really kick my ass out of bed.

And I'm not a morning person, either. Like, so much so that my mom once almost broke my bedroom door down trying to wake me up for school a few times.
posted by two lights above the sea at 7:14 AM on October 23, 2011

I find it much easier to get up - particularly in the winter - when I have a light go on in the room anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes before the alarm goes off, so I have a nice bright lamp near the bed on a timer.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:16 AM on October 23, 2011

Do you drink coffee? Get an automatic coffee maker with auto brewing. You can set the coffee to brew at 7:30 and actually wake up to the sound and smell of the coffee. Then, drink a cup right away and you'll be up.

Put the coffee maker in your room for a few weeks, and then move it to the kitchen area.

Another tip is that you need to wake up at the same time on the weekends, too. Otherwise your body schedule is thrown off.
posted by glaucon at 7:27 AM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

A guy I used to work with who had this issue swore by drinking two glasses of water before bedtime. His bladder got him out of bed when his alarm clock couldn't.
posted by smirkette at 7:46 AM on October 23, 2011 [4 favorites]

I can tell you what works for me, I have a Sonic Alert alarm clock with a vibrator you put under your pillow that vibrates when alarm goes off. Wakes me up when alarm alone wouldn't.
posted by sandyp at 8:06 AM on October 23, 2011

I have an Emerson smart alarm clock - it has 2 alarms on it. I set the first alarm about 15 minutes before I NEED to get up, and it's set to the radio. The second alarm is set to when I actually need to get up, and it's set to a buzzer. I also set the alarms on my phone to something not so blaring, but annoying. I usually set all 3 of them for 5 to 15 minute intervals from each other, with the first one a few minutes before my "have to get up" time.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:06 AM on October 23, 2011

One more voice for the "put the alarm as far away as you can" answer. I had the same problem for a while and having to walk across my bedroom to turn it off did the trick.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:18 AM on October 23, 2011

Oh, and definitely drink lots of water before bed! That is another trick I use and it works!
posted by two lights above the sea at 8:48 AM on October 23, 2011

Clocky, that adorable clock that runs around screaming at you, has mixed reviews.
posted by june made him a gemini at 8:54 AM on October 23, 2011

I just got a new alarm app for my Droid that always gets me up because it requires you to solve math problems. If you set the difficulty to medium and force yourself to solve 2 problems before snoozing or dismissing, I guarantee you you'll get up. The thing won't shut up till you do your mental math and type in the correct answers. Annoying, but it works.

I also find that exercising on a daily basis really helps me to sleep. If you don't exercise immediately before bed, a daily work out can calm your brain enough to help you fall asleep right away when your head hits the pillow. Not sure how you are with observing a "bed time," but it's crucial to be regular with it if you're going to be getting up at the same time every morning. It's kind of a buzzkill when you just wanna play around on the 'net for a few hours at night, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
posted by sunnychef88 at 9:05 AM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I use two alarm clocks, or I suppose one clock that can do multiple alarms is good too. I set them about 15 minutes apart: the first one, 15 minutes before I need to get up, and the second at the actual time I should get up. That way I can hit the first alarm and go back to sleep a bit guilt-free, although oftentimes I can't quite make it back to sleep and I just hang out in bed. By the time the second alarm goes off, I've come to terms with getting up, so up I get.

If you think you'll sleep through the second alarm too, move it somewhere you can't get to it unless you get out of bed.
posted by illenion at 9:27 AM on October 23, 2011

When I have to get up on time I put this incredibly loud alarm clock in the bathroom sink. The whole back of that thing is a bell, and the porcelain sink magnifies the sound even louder - and once I'm at the sink, it's as easy to cold-wash my face and start my day as it is to go back to bed.
posted by nicwolff at 9:40 AM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Maybe do something before work every day that has to happen at a certain time. Get an exercise partner or something, and meet at the park to go running at 7:30. Or it doesn't have to be exercise, just meet for coffee and a donut if you like. (Exercise helps with the energy the rest of the day, though.) It's easy to talk yourself into sleeping later if it really IS ok to sleep in later and you know it. It's harder if you know you're going to disappoint someone else.

When you set your alarm clock, don't set it early to allow for multiple snooze button presses. Set it for the time you want to get up, and train yourself out of pressing the snooze button. In your befuddled half-asleep state, it's too easy to convince yourself that you have time for one more snooze button, even though you clearly don't if you do the math. It's easier and simpler to train yourself that the alarm means you get up, now. Tell yourself you chose that time for a reason when you were thinking clearly, so don't negotiate it now. Just get up.
posted by ctmf at 10:00 AM on October 23, 2011

Since you want to manage your sleep better you need to concentrate on when you go to bed as well as when you wake up. Therefore consider getting an alarm which will tell you go to bed as well. Ideally you should probably try to tune your overall length of sleep to a multiple of 90 minutes - that way you are more likely to feel alert when your morning alarm goes off.
posted by rongorongo at 10:14 AM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you do decide that clocky is right for you, you can buy it for 59% off this week.

You also may want to try practicing. That's right, practicing getting up ready to face the day as soon as your alarm goes off. Steve Pavlina has a lot of wacky ideas, but this one actually worked for me.
posted by decathecting at 12:50 PM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Empathically seconding the Steve Pavlina method. One evening, you simply set the alarm to five minutes after the present time, lie down in bed without falling asleep, then get up when the alarm rings and walk to the kitchen as if you were going to make coffee. Repeat this ten times in succession. It will only take an hour and you only need to to it once.

I can otherwise happily sleep through an alarm clock pressed to my ear and have resorted many times to a power timer coupled to the vacuum cleaner. The morning after practice, I found myself up and awake at the intended time from the measly alarm of an iPhone.
posted by springload at 1:14 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thanks for all these responses, they're super helpful! I already have a cat, but he's trained me to get up and feed him in my sleep. The dark is definitely playing a factor in my morning sleepiness.

Thakns again, hive mind! Very much appreciated.
posted by nerdfish at 3:30 AM on October 24, 2011

Put a glass of water, and a breakfast snack (I use a yogurt) next to the bed.
When your android goes off, drink the water/eat the yogurt, and go back to sleep - that's right! You're allowed to go back to sleep, you've just got to scull some water/take a few bites of food.

Have an alarm clock, across the room, for when you really have to get up. Put your clothes, and maybe a heater next to it.
By the time it goes off, the water and food should be working it's magic on your blood sugar (and bladder).

When it's winter, and really chronic, I use a powerswitch timer on a lamp next to my bed, so that I've got light shining on me for 20 minutes before I have to wake up.

(Finally, use an alarm on your computer, lock the computer (ie password to unlock), then have a dream where the alarm is a bomb you have to defuse, and sleepwalk to the computer, where you sit at the keyboard but you can't remember the password and now the bomb is going to go off and OH MY GOD you're ALL GONNA DIE!
Then wake up in a panic at the sound of an alarm for the next few months.
That might be a little less than practical - just saying, it worked).
posted by Elysum at 10:55 PM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

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