Old farmer tale: waking up on time
July 31, 2017 10:35 AM   Subscribe

My dear old Uncle H, a farmer, had what he called a sure-fire method of waking up precisely when he wanted to. It involved water (I think) and sounded folk-lore-ish. I would love to know what it was.

Sadly, Uncle H, whilst still alive, has dementia and cannot remember, but I think it would amuse him to hear on our next visit. None of our family can, either.

Im not claiming any accuracy as to his method, although I know that he never owned an alarm clock, and it wasn't as simple as getting up at dawn, there was a specific "take this step/these steps to get up at the time you intend". Thanks.
posted by threetwentytwo to Grab Bag (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Drink a calibrated amount of water so your full bladder will awaken you?
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:36 AM on July 31 [5 favorites]

Drink a quart of water 6 hours before you need to get up? Or maybe some sort of water clock? Both of these are mentioned in this Mental Floss article.
posted by SaltySalticid at 10:38 AM on July 31

I've never heard it attributed to farming, but I have to the military: Drinking 2 liters of water quickly right before bed will cause you to wake up in approximately 6 hours with a need to use the bathroom.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 10:40 AM on July 31 [2 favorites]

My knowledge of something along these lines comes from an old simpsons episode
posted by raccoon409 at 11:04 AM on July 31 [3 favorites]

Imagining dropping a stone into water, where the time you want to wake up is inscribed on the stone?
posted by stoneandstar at 11:13 AM on July 31

I read this water-drinking technique in a book of medical lore attributed to various Native American tribes. You would, I think, need to work this out by trial and error to see what you can actually handle. I tried it and it didn't work - I just have to go before I can sleep at all. Keeping a deliberate full bladder has been recommended to me as an aid to staying awake on long car trips.
posted by Countess Elena at 11:44 AM on July 31

My grandfather, who was a farmer, would wake his grandchildren with a quiet knock on the door, and then, after five minutes, if they weren't up, would splash a cup of water in their face. While effective, this is probably not the method you were thinking of.
posted by skewed at 11:55 AM on July 31 [12 favorites]

You said you think it involved water, so I'll share this in case it didn't. When I was a child, I read an interview with Monkee Davy Jones in which he said he banged his head on the pillow once for each hour at which he wanted to get up, e.g., six times for six o'clock, and that it worked every time. I also found a superstition online that said you mark the floor once for each hour, so maybe something along those lines? It also might help with searching to know your uncle's ethnicity or whether he grew up in an area dominated by a particular ethnicity.
posted by FencingGal at 3:27 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]

The earliest types of clocks, invented perhaps as far back as 6000 years ago according to Wikipedia, are water clocks. IIRC one of the simplest ones can just be a large vessel filled with water, with a smaller empty vessel floated inside it pierced by a tiny hole... when the smaller vessel fills sufficiently to sink, it clanks audibly against the bottom of the larger vessel.
posted by XMLicious at 4:56 PM on July 31

Allegedly the Apache drank lots of water so they could wake up for pre-dawn raids. "Apache Alarm clock" is a more contemporary term, used now.
posted by ReluctantViking at 7:40 PM on July 31

If I have to wake up early, I generally drink 2 glasses of water before bed. It's a common lifehack, although for some reason Americans seem to like to attribute it to "Native American tribes" etc.
posted by My Dad at 8:31 PM on July 31

I have also heard this, probably from Enid Blyton or some similar old-school childhood reading.

The code is along the lines of "Drink X amount of water before bed" where X is between one and three glasses. This apparently guarantees a wake-up time. Now I'm older myself, clearly this works because you have to get up and pee rather than being some sort of internal clock-setting mechanism.

The other one I heard was to thump your head on the pillow the same number of times as the hour you want to wake up. So, if you wanna wake up at 8am, thump your head on the pillow 8 times before you go to sleep. I still don't know how this one is supposed to work.
posted by citands at 3:32 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]

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