Can I wake up alone (without having to sleep alone)?
April 7, 2015 2:00 PM   Subscribe

I need to wake up at least an hour before my wife does. Alas, she's a light sleeper and I'm a fairly heavy one. I've had my phone set for a vibrate alarm and keep it in my pajama pocket -- and it still wakes her up before it wakes me up. So I need something... subtler, but not too subtle (or else I'll sleep through it). The only thing I can think of is a wearable alarm a la Fitbit. Would that be likely to work? Anyone else in a similar situation?
posted by sesquipedalia to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
My husband is a fairly heavy sleeper and I am a fairly light sleeper. Even his Fitbit wakes me up before it wakes him -- and we have a memory foam mattress that doesn't translate movement, the mere sound of the vibration on his arm wakes me.

I "solved" this problem by arranging my schedule so I always have to get up before him.... because I just cannot sleep though his alarms (he's also a snooze-button hitter).

So, the Fitbit may or may not work for you. I'll be watching this thread with interest though, because I've never found a solution that actually works (aside from separate bedrooms, which I'm not willing to consider).
posted by rabbitrabbit at 2:05 PM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure the FitBit is going to do it for you - my wife has tried to use hers as a silent alarm, and it wakes me up before it waked her up (and I'm not that light a sleeper).
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 2:09 PM on April 7, 2015

Would light wake you? There are sleep masks that go from dark to light when it's time to wake up. The light would be inside your mask so not visible to your wife. Here's one option. I have no idea how well these work.

Alternatively, if your wife wears a mask you could use a room-sized sunrise alarm.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 2:12 PM on April 7, 2015 [6 favorites]

Can you fall asleep with some sort of bluetooth headphones in? (Probably a stupid idea, but worth a shot)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:19 PM on April 7, 2015

Heavy sleeper here with light sleeping husband. My husband wakes at anything -- buzzing Fitbit, vibrating phone, or merely me sneaking out of bed. We have tried separate rooms and he still wakes when I do. He also naps much more readily than I do (many light sleepers can pull off napping) so his solution is to wake when I do and go back to bed or nap when I leave.
posted by bearwife at 2:21 PM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Drink an extra glass of water before you go to bed. You'll wake up to pee.
posted by w0mbat at 2:48 PM on April 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

There's a project on Kickstarter, Wakē, which would solve your problems if it works as advertised. It's an alarm clock that uses focused light and sound (with a parametric speaker) to wake you up. It uses a heat sensor (somehow) to tell exactly where you (as opposed to another person) are and it aims the sound and light at your head.

It costs $250 and it won't ship until September, assuming everything goes according to their plans.
posted by stuart_s at 3:08 PM on April 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you ever do wake up first, are you able to get out of bed without waking her? Because if the answer is no, a clever alarm clock won't help.
posted by aubilenon at 3:19 PM on April 7, 2015 [15 favorites]

Just as another datapoint, I have the Fitbit Surge (the big watch) and the vibration it makes on my wrist when my alarm goes off does NOT wake up my husband.
posted by joan_holloway at 3:19 PM on April 7, 2015

I'm a light sleeper and my husband's Fitbit Charge wakes me up. It has about the same vibration power as his vibrating phone alarm.
posted by _Mona_ at 3:39 PM on April 7, 2015

The wristband may take some getting used to, but there is the the Lark.

Or, less expensive, maybe place your phone in a neoprene sleeve (case) to lessen the vibe.
posted by artdrectr at 3:49 PM on April 7, 2015

I'm going to vote "no, you're going to wake him up regardless" too.

I have to either get up at the same time/later than my husband, or a couple of hours earlier and then get out of the room quick so he can get back to sleep again (one hour is the absolute worst, because it isn't enough time for him to get any useful rest).
posted by tinkletown at 4:07 PM on April 7, 2015

I don't even think of myself as a light sleeper but my boyfriend gets up at 5:30 and I get up at 7:15, and I *always* wake up when he gets up, even if he's up before his alarm goes off. Just him getting out of bed wakes me. About 1/3 of the time I can get back to sleep right away, and the rest of the time I get anywhere between 0-45 minutes of sleep before my alarm goes off. I suppose I could get up when he gets up and then go to bed earlier, but then I know I'd be exhausted by the time I left for work. Even laying in bed, not sleeping, til 7:15 gives me some snooze/relax time. I wish we had more of a similar schedule but them's the breaks when you're both employed!
posted by jabes at 4:14 PM on April 7, 2015

I am generally a very light sleeper - breathing too loud might wake me up. My husband sleeps like he's dead. I would have assumed that anything that managed to wake him up would jolt me out of sleep like we were under attack. But.. he started wearing a Pebble (Classic) watch that vibrates when the alarm goes off - it has never, not once, awakened me, and it does consistently wake him up on time.
posted by VioletU at 4:31 PM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Maybe these wireless headphones, if they work as advertised, although they aren't being sold yet.
posted by pemberkins at 5:11 PM on April 7, 2015

I'm not a particularly light sleeper but I wake up to alarm sounds and my wife's vibe wakes me up.
posted by Mitheral at 5:26 PM on April 7, 2015

My husband gets up 2 hours before me, when it's still nighttime and I really REALLY do not want to be awake. He sleeps like a dead log and I do not. So I am all too familiar with this problem. The FitBit buzzes a little bit more softly than a phone, so I'm not sure that's going to help. HOWEVER, I can tell you from personal experience that the #1 thing you can do to avoid disturbing your wife is reliably get up EVERY TIME when your alarm goes off. Do not lie there and go back to sleep or doze and make her worry that you've ignored your alarm. If you immediately get out of bed every time, she can go back to sleep without anxiety. I would also suggest that if possible, she keep a pair of earplugs right next to the bed and as soon as the alarm goes off, she can put them in and then go back to sleep oblivious to whatever noise you make. In the early morning when sleep is light, it can make a huge difference to use earplugs. (We have a toddler, and one of us always has to be listening for him if he's not in our bed. If I'm wearing earplugs, my husband is understood to be on duty, and he'll wake me if I'm needed. If the toddler's in my bed, there's no hope for sleep and after two hours I'm guaranteed to have smoke coming out of my ears from all the disturbances.) It's amazing the kinds of disturbances you can sleep through (even the bed moving) if you have great earplugs.
posted by Cygnet at 5:43 PM on April 7, 2015 [6 favorites]

Will the Fitbit fit around your ankle? Maybe the sound would be muffled under the blankets.
posted by defreckled at 6:43 PM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you want to go the headphone route try Sleep Phones. I use the Bluetooth ones for falling asleep.
posted by poxandplague at 7:10 PM on April 7, 2015

I'll come at this from the other direction. Maybe your wife would be interested in a white noise machine, so that extraneous noise doesn't wake her? I love mine.

However, doesn't you getting out of bed wake her up, if she's that light a sleeper?
posted by capricorn at 7:22 PM on April 7, 2015

Another possible approach: Assuming it's the sound of vibration that wakes her, could you sleep with a white noise machine? That might mask the sound of vibration in the morning.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:19 PM on April 7, 2015

Best answer: Yes, the vibrating cell phones actually make some noise. I've had better luck with a vibrating wrist watch, and they're much cheaper than the fitbits. Casio makes one for $23.17, and you can find plenty of others by just searching on amazon for "vibration alarm watch".

For me, it's just the right level of vibration to wake me up but not my partner.
posted by math at 7:18 AM on April 8, 2015

I have a FitBit and use that as a precursor alarm to my regular alarm.

It works for a few days, then I become more accustomed to it and it loses its effect. I have to stop using it for a day or two before picking it up again as an alarm.

Anecdotally, I've heard that switching wrists (and of course changing the dominant arm setting) every few nights works well.
posted by splen at 8:00 AM on April 8, 2015

I'm the lighter sleeper in a similar situation, and I actually find it more helpful to have my husband wake up to a regular (sound) alarm on his phone. I make him pick one of the calmer/more peaceful sounds, and I make sure it's not a sound either of us uses as a ringtone or alarm in any other circumstance. Eventually I develop a Pavlovian "go back to sleep" response to that particular sound - whereas the sound of vibration always makes me want to wake up and check my own phone!

Another think that's helped me to learn to go back to sleep/not fully wake up is to put on my sleep mask right when his alarm goes off. Her MMV on all this, but it's helped me a lot.

And yes, try to make sure there's at least 90 minutes between when you get up and when she gets up.
posted by Carmelita Spats at 1:59 PM on April 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

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