I love you, honey, but you're destroying my sleep
October 1, 2014 8:56 AM   Subscribe

Live-in boyfriend and I are on completely different schedules, and he requires lots of loud alarms to wake up. But they wake me up, too.

My boyfriend and I live together. I work a typical 9-5; he has to be at work by 4:30am. He has a hard time waking up, so he has to set multiple alarms. He has two: the alarm clock radio and his phone. They start going off around 2:30am and ping pong off of each other. He snoozes them for a good 45 minutes and finally gets up around 3:15. They are LOUD, and because one is the radio, it's not uncommon for a loud punk or rock song to be one of the "alarms."

While I fall asleep very easily when I first go to bed, it can be difficult for me to stay asleep, and even something as quiet as our cat meowing can wake me. The alarms have always at least half-woken me up, but over the last few weeks, the first one completely wakes me, and then I can't/won't fall back asleep until my boyfriend finally gets up, because I know that there are more alarms to come. This means that I'm generally up for at least an hour in the middle of the night. I play around on my phone and eventually get back to sleep once he leaves for work. This makes me grumpy and groggy in the morning.

I've suggested quieter alternatives to my boyfriend, like a Fitbit with a vibrating alarm for his wrist, but he doesn't think that will wake him up. It's gotten to the point where he's considering sleeping in our second bedroom during the week, which neither of us want. Ideas?
posted by anotheraccount to Human Relations (42 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
He has to sleep in the other bedroom if he isn't willing to pursue a quieter alternative. This is insanity and I would have lost it a long time ago if I were you.

My husband and I have an excellent, very close relationship and he sometimes sleeps in the other room because of ongoing insomnia issues. The positives for my quality of sleep unquestionably outweigh the negatives of not sharing a bed and I think you will find this even more true in your situation.
posted by something something at 9:02 AM on October 1, 2014 [52 favorites]

Can you be his alarm? After the first alarm goes off, pound on his head until he gets up, then you can go back to sleep comfortably knowing that there won't be any more alarms.
posted by Melismata at 9:05 AM on October 1, 2014 [18 favorites]

Would it be possible for him to not snooze if he knew how damaging it was to your sleep? Like, can he just get up when the first alarm goes off instead of hitting the snooze button?
posted by heavenstobetsy at 9:06 AM on October 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

There are flush earbuds you can wear in bed. I can set up my ipod touch to play an alarm (and repeat it) easily, which nobody would hear but me. If he thinks he wouldn't get used to it, have him try out a pair a few nights.
posted by zadcat at 9:07 AM on October 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

He snoozes them for a good 45 minutes and finally gets up around 3:15.

He has to break the snooze habit. Snoozing is not required - when my alarm goes off my feet hit the floor, and I know I'm not the only one who can do this. Is he not going to sleep early enough (very hard when you have to be at work so early - the summer I worked as a baker and had to be at work at 3 am was rough)?

Your choices really are you have horrible sleep; he sleeps in the other room; he learns to stop hitting snooze and get up when the alarm goes off. The latter will take some practice but is probably the least traumatic for both of you.
posted by rtha at 9:08 AM on October 1, 2014 [30 favorites]

1) One of my insane pet peeves about past roommates is that if he's getting up at 3:15, why on earth do the alarms start at 2:30? Is there something amazing about getting 45 minutes of 9 minute bursts of sleep? Just set the alarm to 3:15 and only have one.

2) Get him to try the fitbit. Worst case is that it doesn't work and he can sell it on ebay.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 9:08 AM on October 1, 2014 [6 favorites]

Nthing that this is insane. He should just set one alarm and you can make sure he gets out of bed, since it sounds like you wake up at the first alarm anyway.

I think the Fitbit is also a great idea.
posted by Aizkolari at 9:09 AM on October 1, 2014 [4 favorites]

Separate bedrooms. There is a reason that sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture. You need your sleep! If he's not willing to consider a quieter alternative - like a vibrating device, earbuds, or at least not snoozing - then he moves into another bedroom or you do.

Put your foot down and insist that the loud alarms and snoozing have to go, or else it's separate bedrooms. You have as much right to your sleep as he does! Don't become a martyr to his habits.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:11 AM on October 1, 2014 [19 favorites]

i agree with cutting down on the snooze time. my boyfriend used to do this and it'd drive me crazy. he's cut back the hour-long snooze time to 20 min now. knowing there's one more snooze alarm coming is way better than waiting for four more.
posted by monologish at 9:16 AM on October 1, 2014

Couple of thoughts:

1. When the alarm goes off once, could he get himself to the other room at that point, if he wants to snooze a bit? That would give you significant time also to share your bed during the night. It would simply be a matter of him taking his phone and plopping on the other bed, and you go back to sleep not anticipating another alarm.

2. I think the "no snooze"option might be worth pursuing, if possible. I do love to snooze, but a couple of things that I've found that wake me right up in the morning: airboxing about 40 times with each hand, and also a big, cold glass of water.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:20 AM on October 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oof, I would have moved to the second bedroom myself by now if I were you. Although even that may not help, depending on how your place is laid out; I used to have a roommate who needed to listen to a full hour of NPR played at maximum clock radio volume before she could get out of bed (and she had to wake up about two hours before me), and that drove me super-crazy, and we were not in the same room.

Try the fitbit. Try just not snoozing. Really consider trying separate bedrooms. I mean, you guys don't go to bed at the same time, do you? If you do, I guess that explains why he has so much trouble waking up.... Presumably he's bumping around the room getting ready for work from 3:15 until he leaves for work, and that's not helping you fall back asleep either.

Oh also don't play around on your phone in the middle of the night. Read a paper book or listen to an audiobook or something. The light from the phone screen is just going to make you more awake.
posted by mskyle at 9:23 AM on October 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm terrible at getting up in the morning so I kinda sympathize with your boyfriend, but 45 minutes of alarms is ridiculous and of course terribly inconsiderate to you.

I wouldn't hesitate to sleep in seperate bedrooms during the week. The upside of that is that sleeping in the same bed on the weekend will feel special. If you really don't want to do that, then ask him to move to the 2nd bedroom when the 1st alarm goes off and do his 45 minutes of hitting the snooze button in there (or you could move to the 2nd bedroom yourself as soon as he wakes you up and go back to sleep there).
posted by Asparagus at 9:23 AM on October 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am so annoyed on your behalf. I don't think your boyfriend is a bad person or anything, based on what you say, but his snoozing proclivities are totally not cool with me. If the opinion of an internet stranger means anything, then please note: this is an internet stranger saying your boyfriend owes you finding a way to keep from waking you up with his snoozing.

I've suggested quieter alternatives to my boyfriend, like a Fitbit with a vibrating alarm for his wrist, but he doesn't think that will wake him up.

Why doesn't he try them out on a weekend? If Fitbit or whatever can get him up and out of bed on a day off, then he'll know it'll work on the days he needs it.
posted by meese at 9:24 AM on October 1, 2014 [6 favorites]

I am usually the guilty party here, but everyone is right - you don't get multiple snooze options when there is somebody else being woken up too. Set an alarm for 3.15. You may well have to turf him out of bed (my husband often has to do this for me because I am a deep sleeper and sleep on my non-deaf ear), but he should agree to get out of bed and leave the room when you do this. It isn't your fault he has to get up early. If he goes back to sleep let him, he won't do it more than twice (I speak from experience).

What time do you all go to bed? Is he tired because he's coming to bed at the same time as you (like 11pm or something?) Could you both go to bed absurdly early so you don't wake him up when you come to bed, and so you both get plenty of sleep? You could get up properly at 6am or something and have time for the gym or chores or something before work. I am not a morning person but if I was being woken up at 3.15 every morning I might decide to just move onto their schedule.

If neither of those are goers at least stop playing on your phone - the blue light keeps you awake. Keep your eyes shut and your head under the covers to block out light. He should sneak out of the room with minimum disturbance - he can keep his clothes for the next day on a chair outside the door.
posted by tinkletown at 9:27 AM on October 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'd have pushed him out of bed or dumped water on him by about 3, myself.

This is NOT fair to you and he needs to figure it out.
posted by stormyteal at 9:37 AM on October 1, 2014 [4 favorites]

Separate bedrooms are AMAZING! I love actually being able to sleep.

You can still have intimacy and togetherness and sex and whatnot in the main bedroom, but then when it's time to sleep, someone goes to the other room and sleeps.

We've had separate bedrooms since before we were married and it's worked out splendidly.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:37 AM on October 1, 2014 [8 favorites]

Did you guys just move in together or did one of you change job situations? This is one of those couples-communications things really. You both have to advocate for what you need, but it's useful to sometimes have a reality check on what other people consider "normal" in these situations. It looks like consensus is

- setting an early alarm is fine, getting to use the snooze feature is less fine
- there are worse things than sleeping apart
- it's totally reasonable for you to not want an hour of interrupted sleep in what is basically the middle of your night

Also if you have the second bedroom available he might be able to keep clothes and whatnot in there so that once he's out of bed he's out of the bedroom (for showering, getting dressed, computers nerdery, whatever) so that you can get back to sleep knowing you're done being interrupted. I think heavy sleepers have a hard time understanding light sleepers (I am a light sleeper) so you may have to outline how this is going to have to work from your end and then listen to what he wants on his end. A you-compromise-and-he-doesn't situation is a foreshadowing of future bad situations, so it's worth working this out.
posted by jessamyn at 9:43 AM on October 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

I've suggested quieter alternatives to my boyfriend, like a Fitbit with a vibrating alarm for his wrist, but he doesn't think that will wake him up.

Oh, is that what he thinks?

How about he tries it anyway, because that would be a really easy solution and if he won't try it then I think he's not taking your problem very seriously.
posted by General Tonic at 9:45 AM on October 1, 2014 [14 favorites]

Your choices are... he learns to stop hitting snooze and get up when the alarm goes off.

My husband will not get out of bed without multiple alarms and, like the OP's SO, a good 25 - 45 minute runway to wakefulness. Nothing -- his intent, poking him, shaking him, shouting at him, tears, door slamming, sobbing -- seems to be able to change this. (I genuinely worry about what would happen in the event of a house fire.) The first week we lived together, I was convinced I'd made the worst mistake of my life, I was so exhausted and sleep deprived and just fucking miserable.

If he goes back to sleep let him, he won't do it more than twice (I speak from experience).

This is not my experience. So very not my experience.

The only thing that resolved this for us is having two bedrooms.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:50 AM on October 1, 2014 [5 favorites]

I am terrible about the snooze button, but I was able to cut back after my fiance told me how much it was messing up his sleep.

However, if you have the luxury of a second bedroom, use it! Damn there are many nights when I wish I had my own room. You can totally have pre-bed snuggle time and sexy time in the bedroom and then sleep in separate rooms. If you get lonely in bed, snuggle with a stuffed animal or blanket.
posted by radioamy at 10:08 AM on October 1, 2014

That is crazy pants. My husband also loves his snooze button, but if he getting up more than 30 minutes before me, he's straight out of bed as soon as the alarm starts ringing. That's called just plain being considerate. I would totally put my foot down on this one.
posted by whitewall at 10:11 AM on October 1, 2014 [10 favorites]

I don't know how "awake" he actually is when hitting snooze, but I am an inveterate snoozer and after my husband told me how much it was driving him nuts (it wasn't middle of the night like your situation but I was waking him up about 30-40 minutes before his own alarm), I snooze once, and if I'm still too sleepy when it goes off again, I just reset the alarm to "absolute latest possible moment I am okay with getting up." Generally I don't really fall asleep between snoozes so by the time it goes off the last time I can get up ok. Maybe that would help at least a little?

Otherwise, separate bedrooms like everyone has said.
posted by agress at 10:15 AM on October 1, 2014

Darlingbri, I didn't mean he wouldn't oversleep, but that he would learn to get up on his own IF he overslept a few times. I definitely found waking up several hours after my shift started was a strong motivator to get up when my alarm went off the following morning. It may seem harsh, and obviously not one to pull if your husband will lose his job for a one-off late arrival.

I sleep in and press snooze when I know there are no consequences - there will be another alarm, or my husband, or something, to get me up eventually. I get up fine with the one alarm when I know that if I don't I will miss a flight/exam/something else important.

If he is pressing snooze while still asleep, move the alarm so he has to get out of bed to turn it off.
posted by tinkletown at 10:26 AM on October 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Darlingbri, I didn't mean he wouldn't oversleep, but that he would learn to get up on his own IF he overslept a few times. I definitely found waking up several hours after my shift started was a strong motivator to get up when my alarm went off the following morning.

tinkletown, I understood what you meant and again, this has not been the experience of my household.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:36 AM on October 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

I am your boyfriend. I cherish those extra minutes of snoozing in the morning, and set multiple alarms. I can't explain why I need/want that, but I cannot just hit the ground running at my first 5am alarm. It's how I've woken myself up since middle school.

THAT BEING SAID, it annoys the crap out of my husband. We have compromised down to 2 alarms no more than 20 minutes apart if we are sleeping in the same bed. That's a big if. We've taken to separate bedrooms on multiple occasions for various reasons (I occasionally get home from work at 2am and have to be back up at 6am, he snores and I have insomnia, etc etc).

Separate beds from time to time will get you that sweet restorative sleep and give him an outlet for his weird snoozing habits (I compromise on alarms when we co-sleep, but like to indulge in some snoozing when I'm on my own).
posted by picklesthezombie at 10:57 AM on October 1, 2014

I am your boyfriend. I luckily wake up later than my boyfriend, so it isn't a relationship killer yet.

I have a jawbone that I can easily snooze through, so I think the fitbit is a bad idea.

But they do have other options that aren't sound based. I had the vibrating Sonic Boom alarm that was pretty effective, though I was single at the time and can't say how much the vibrations travel. It looks like Sharper Image has a wrist version I'm currently using the Wake-Up light, backed up by my cell phone. It works if *you* aren't light sensitive, or can wear an eye mask.
posted by politikitty at 11:09 AM on October 1, 2014

My husband (not boyfriend) was very very guilty of over-using the Snooze Button and setting multiple alarms starting 1.5 hrs before he had to get up.

I trained him with the threat of violence to be an Adult and get out of bed when the first alarm goes off, which is set for a reasonable time.


This will not work for you. Just commiserating.


Here's how I broke myself of this Bad Habit.

- Set 1st alarm for the time I must get up.

- Set 2nd alarm for 10 minutes later.

By the time the 2nd alarm sounds, if I am not already out of bed, I am already running late.

Adult me does not want to be late. I learned to get up on the 1st alarm.

Hope this helps. Good luck!
posted by jbenben at 12:11 PM on October 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

I have a fitbit alarm set so it doesn't wake up the house when I need to get up. He can set multiple alarms to go off back to back so it's like he gets the snooze feature without the hassle of waking you up. Have him try it out on a non workday and see if it does wake him up.
posted by skittlekicks at 12:32 PM on October 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Hitting snooze is bad. Here is some info: CNN, WNCN, New Yorker, Advisory.com, etc. While I included a variety of sources, feel free to search for more.

Our brains are not designed for the snooze button. You are more likely to gain weight, have heart issues, be less alert, have lower brain function, develop diabetes, etc. Men who get less sleep (and snoozing may contribute to it) have lower testosterone than those to sleep more.

If he cares for his own health and for yours, he will stop hitting snooze and just get out of bed.
posted by Leenie at 12:34 PM on October 1, 2014 [10 favorites]

Two words: Earphones.

He should wear them.
posted by Gray Skies at 12:35 PM on October 1, 2014

To jump off of Leenie's comment, there's also a ton of research on the negative effects of sleep deprivation on mood, irritability, and relationship quality (example).

Seperate bedrooms could actually save your relationship.
posted by Asparagus at 12:45 PM on October 1, 2014

The Fitbit will work. But he just needs to decide not to snooze.
posted by J. Wilson at 1:09 PM on October 1, 2014

Separate beds and bedrooms, except for when he doesn't have to get up early.

Sorry, there is no other answer that will work. I am a shift worker. I know.
posted by Decani at 1:14 PM on October 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

He has trained himself to get up on snooze #5 or whatever. He can train himself to get up when the alarm goes off. He has to choose to do this, but he can do it. I have a hard time getting up. I use an alarm that flashes a light, and the alarm goes off after a couple minutes and a radio alarm. I like to listen to the radio, then get up in 20 minutes when the alarm clock light flashes.

Turn the radio alarm down a tiny bit every day. When you hear alarm #1, sit up and start yelling that the alarm is going off. Do this for a few days, and he'll start paying attention at the 1st alarm.

You should also start wearing ear plugs and a sleep mask once he gets better at getting up. Also, do your best to enable him getting adequate sleep, going to bed at 8 or so, so he can get up on time.
posted by theora55 at 1:15 PM on October 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am your boyfriend too except:

1. Bear and I do separate bedrooms except when we are traveling, in which case he wakes me up (usually after he's gotten up and showered and made coffee); and

2. I've learned that soft alarms are just as effective for waking up as loud ones. This was an important discovery as even in a separate room my loud alarm woke my husband; and

3. If the alarm is set close enough in time to when he really really needs to get up or disastrous lateness will happen -- i.e. only one snooze worth -- he'll soon learn, like me, to get up after one snooze cycle.

I do wonder why all us deep sleeping night owls end up falling madly in love with easily awakened larks, but oh well. He needs to make a whole lot of adjustments and you probably do want a separate bed. Truly they are more romantic given that you end up a whole lot less sleep deprived and only fun things happen when you occupy them together.
posted by bearwife at 3:26 PM on October 1, 2014

Oh my god. I would have long since MURDERED HIM BY NOW. I had a roommate like this but at least she didn't have to wake up in the middle of the fucking night and then snooze, snooze, snooze. Not only do I nth separate bedrooms, if I were you I would seriously consider moving out to a separate place until/unless he gets a more reasonable job, because I think I'd still hear that racket within the same house.

I really hope you guys aren't in an apartment.

But seriously, this shit is not okay to pull if any other humans are in the vicinity. He's utterly trashing your sleep and snooze sleep isn't all that restorative for him either. Seriously, why can't he just sleep until 3:15 and get up ONCE? He can learn.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:58 PM on October 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Recovering hardcore snoozer here. My current snooze-reduction strategy, which is working well, is that: (1) I take meletonin every night. Which helps me wake up perky, or at least perki-er; (2) I set two alarms on my phone using an app called Alarmy, which does not shut off until (1st alarm) I shake my phone back and forth 95 times; and (2nd alarm) I get up and take a picture of our front door, which matches a picture that the app has stored. And after I take my picture, I proceed directly to the kitchen, where I slug down a wake-up beverage.

The alarm on my phone is loud enough to wake me up, but not loud enough to seriously disturb my spouse, as long as I catch it in time.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 6:30 PM on October 1, 2014 [4 favorites]

I love my husband, I love sleeping with my husband, but I love sleeping separately more. OMG the amount of UNINTERRUPTED sleep I get now.
posted by RogueTech at 7:32 PM on October 1, 2014

Maybe he could sleep in the second bedroom until he trains himself to get out of bed on the first alarm?
posted by coldhotel at 7:51 PM on October 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

If I was married to your partner, I would be shown on the evening news after investigators arrested me for hiding his body parts in storm drains after one too many alarm incidents. I wake up before alarms and don't go back to sleep (and I wake up from alarms in nearby apartments or hotel rooms), so multiple alarms would make me go sleep in my car or move out.

Jessamyn said " I think heavy sleepers have a hard time understanding light sleepers (I am a light sleeper) so you may have to outline how this is going to have to work from your end and then listen to what he wants on his end."

I agree, and would extend that to you need to lay out your limits, just as you would set limits about someone using your credit card or touching your body. If multiple alarms are incompatible with your sleep and happiness, then set the limit that they don't exist in your bedroom. He is a grownup and can research other kinds of alarms, can learn to wake up to one alarm, or can sleep in the other bedroom. It's reasonable for him to need something other than a standard alarm to wake up, but his chosen solution needs to be compatible with your sleeping patterns.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:09 PM on October 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm one of those people who doesn't wake up well to alarm clocks. It needs to be noisy to wake me up, and once beyond that I tend to fall back to sleep. I've been surprised how well the vibration of my pebble wakes me up. Even better, if one is willing to concede to a range of time to wake up during, there are apps/watch faces which will pay attention to the accelerometers, and look for a period in the time range when one's moving/giving signs of light sleep to launch the alarm. Waking from a light sleep instead of a deep sleep is a world of difference for me.

Granted, $100 is a bit steep for what amounts to an alarm watch. Online retailers often have good return policies, and many options for cheaper alarm clocks with some method of doing silent alarm / vibration. If there's a 30 day return policy, what's the harm in trying a vibrating alarm clock/watch?
posted by nobeagle at 7:09 AM on October 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am also a snoozer. I few years ago I replaced my alarm clock with an iphone app* called Motion X 24/7 that wakes me up within a preset time window (for example, a twenty minute window, no later than 7:30), and can use gradually increasing volume on music or jungle sounds or probably a normal alarm clock sound to wake me up. I put it under my pillow (with the charger attached) when I turn out the light.

It has changed my life. I can't overstate this at all - my mornings are much less horrible now. It's so much easier to wake up that way than to a blaring alarm clock that sounds like an airhorn (that I would sometimes sleep through anyway - I'm a very heavy sleeper.) Mornings are way less stressful for me now AND my wife doesn't want to murder me every morning for hitting snooze a million times. Even if I do snooze it's never loud enough for her to hear.

*when I googled it just now there was a link on the first page of results with options for similar android apps so if you are sans iphone you could check those out
posted by smartyboots at 8:26 PM on October 2, 2014

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