Waking up at a set time without an alarm clock is quite possibly the hardest thing to do in the world. Personal experience reveals two ways of waking up without the blaring sound of a reversing truck emanating from your trusted, but often so hated, timepiece. The first is waking up 1 minute before the alarm goes off, leaving you without enough time for a lie in and feeling unsatisfied. The second is waking up long after your alarm was set, either it didn’t go off or you ignored it for too long, letting frustration into your morning routine.
So, what are the methods for waking up peacefully without an alarm?
How much sleep is needed?
This depends very much on the type of person you are. There’s no one size fits all, and factors include the amount of exercise you get during the day, what time you go to bed and how healthy you are generally. Most adults need to get between 7 and 9 hours sleep every night. If that’s a struggle, you could try supplementing the lost hours with a daytime nap.
To determine how much sleep you need yourself, spend a week timing yourself sleeping and waking up without an alarm. If you settle down in bed at the same time every night, you will broadly get the same amount of shut eye. This should give you the confidence to leave your alarm aside when you would normally need it. If you need to adjust your sleeping pattern, we recommend changing it by small amounts of 15 minutes. So if you usually sleep 11pm to 7am and you need to wake up earlier, first adjust it to 10.45pm to 6.45am and so on.
Get into a proper bedtime ritual
This is where you need to be strict with yourself, but you’ll enjoy the rewards. Dim the lights, turn off electronics and remember to relax for at least an hour before bed. Either have a relaxing bath, read a book, meditate or do yoga. In the morning, complement your bedtime ritual with a waking ritual. This can include exposing yourself to bright natural light. If it’s tricky getting up in the morning then opening the curtains will help your body clock get on track. For those readers complaining that the UK gets very little light on winter mornings at the best of times, then consider getting a ‘light alarm’, such as a Lumie. These don’t emit a noise but simulate a rising sun, giving your body the sensation of being woken up naturally.
Understand what makes a good night’s sleep
It’s not just relaxing that’ll do the trick. A big part of getting some decent shut-eye is knowing what contributes to a bad sleep. Electronics that emit blue light, particularly flat screen televisions, smartphones and tablets, prevent the production of a hormone called melatonin. This is the chemical responsible for getting your body to sleep at night. Typically, the body starts producing this hormone around 9pm, so avoid light screens after that time.
If you need to be in front of a screen, make sure you use a blue light filter to avoid disturbing your circadian rhythm. Coffee also disturbs your sleep. Caffeine has a half life of around 8 hours, that’s how long it stays in your bloodstream, keeping you energised and stopping you from dozing off comfortably until it’s out your system. As a rule of thumb, try to avoid caffeine beyond 2pm. The same goes for for alcohol. Although it won’t interrupt you like caffeine, alcohol prevents your body falling into ‘REM’ sleep which is crucial for your body to reset itself for a new day.
To understand more of the good-sleep basics, consider reading these posts:
If at first you feel some anxiety at the idea of having to wake up naturally at the right time, set an alarm anyway to guarantee you wake up. After all, you don’t want worrying to get in the way of dozing off.
Do you wake up without an alarm? We’d love to hear how you achieved this in the comments below.