Your method of waking up is the first thing that starts your day. I’m not saying that waking up to an annoying alarm will ruin your day, but it probably isn’t going to help anything.
Here are a few ideas for waking up:
- Wake up to a CD. Many stereos have a built in alarm clock that will start the CD at a certain time. (This can also be the basis of a nice college dorm prank.)
- Wake up to the radio. Most clock radios let you wake up to whatever is being broadcast instead of the normal alarm.
- Wake up to light. A simple outlet timer hooked to a bright light can be a great way to wake up because the light will help tell your body that the day is starting. (You might want to set a backup alarm when trying this for the first time.)
- Wake up to cool air. In high school I concocted an elaborate mechanism for waking up that I would tinker with each night. One of the more interesting things I tried was hooking up a fan at the bottom of the bed sheets. It would come on and start blowing cool air under the covers.
- Wake up to your cell phone. Many cell phones have alarm clocks and the ringing of your cell phone might be much more pleasant than the buzz of your regular alarm clock. You might even be able to set it to vibrate and then just sleep with it under your pillow.
- Wake up to coffee. I hate coffee, so waking up every day with the thought “what is that awful smell?” isn’t my idea of a good way to wake. However, I’m told other people like to wake up to coffee, so a pot with a timer might be a good option.
- Wake up to your iPod. iPods have alarm clock functionality built in. You can set them to play a particular playlist at the appropriate time. I don’t recommend sleeping with headphones, but if you have external speakers of some type, this can be a nice way to wake up. One of the advantages of this over a CD player is that the CD player will make a “spin up” noise when it starts, so if you are a light sleeper you may wake up to the spin noise instead of the music. (As a side note the best piece of music to wake up to is the music from the ballet Appalachian Spring. The worst music to wake up to is anything played on a harpsichord.)
So do you have a creative way to wake up? What do you use presently? What things have you tried in the past?
Originally published April 20, 2007.
Artur Paikin says
The point is I currently wake up to a stupid sound in my mobile phone. However after your note I’ll try something more pleasant.
By the way I have a special “turn on and off” timer for anything what is plugged into electricity plug :) I bought this one in Finland and never thought things like that could be sold just in ordinary shop.
And no one understood my happiness when I’ve set half of the house to turn on automatically in the morning ;)
Thomas Bosch says
I get dragged out of bed by the ankles by The Girlfriend. Very effective and works every time.
Waking up to the morning light is probably the most gentle way of waking up and for that reason we always select the room in the east in each place we have lived. I do have an alarm set on my mobile phone as a back up though, but usually wake up before it goes off.
Waking up to other aromas could be more pleasant. This could be accomplished a timer on an electric candle warmer or other aromatherapy-type devices. Citrus or peppermint would be a stimulating scent to help open the eyes and brighten the mind!
@Thomas – Ah. Well I suppose that is always an option as well. But how does your Girlfriend wakeup? :)
@Shalini – Choosing a morning sun facing room as a bedroom is an excellent idea. This is my preferred way of waking up as well.
@Debi – I hadn’t thought of that. I’m going to have to try that out sometime.
There were some devices a few years ago that would plug into your computer and allow you to “smell” things over the internet. They used oils and (I think) some type of heat source to generate any type of smell. So using something like that you could start with a nice smell and if the person doesn’t get up it turns into a coffee smell. :)
Thomas Bosch says
My girlfriend is so good at getting up that I am convinced she is a robot! Her internal body clock is very well-trained. The night before, she tells herself what time she wants to get up in the morning. Then when that time comes, her eyes flick open and she is immediately alert. In the 7 years we have been together, I don’t recall her having over-slept once.
God, I wish I had that talent. When I sleep, a nuclear bomb could go off outside and I would sleep through the whole thing!
The bright light idea is really interesting :) I tend to have to get up at different times every day though, and all the electricity timer things I’ve seen haven’t been that convenient to adjust on a daily basis.
Right now I wake up to a radio playing for about 15 minutes, and then my cell alarm when I absolutely must get up, if I hadn’t when the radio played.
@Thomas – You sleep like I do. I slept through our smoke alarm once. Another time I woke up and discovered that the apartment next to mine had burned to the ground. I slept through the sirens, people yelling and everything.
@Niklas – If you are really geeky like me, you might checkout the X10 modules. You can set your computer to turn things on and off at different times each day. I used them at one job to turn lava lamps on and off depending on whether our project was going well or not. The computer would automatically measure a few items and if it failed any of our predefined tests, the red lava lamp would come one. Otherwise the green one was lit.
Chris White says
I’ve noticed a huge difference in how I wake up since I switched from my alarm clock buzzer to MP3s on my computer. I’ve found the best alarms for the computer seem to come as desktop widgets/gadgets/etc. The best one was on Desktop Sidebar, but the one I’m currently using is on Google Desktop.
I too can sleep through anything, yeah, even a fire alarm, thankfully my dog would probably wake me up if the fire alarm went off. To make sure I don’t sleep through my song I always set my old, extremely loud, alarm clock to go off five minutes after my computer.
Kate Davis says
We have a bodyclock http://www.lumie.com/bodyclocks.htm which gradually turns on over a set time, ours is 30 minutes to give the impression of sun rise. I love it.
i wouldn’t recommend sleeping on your cell phone, as the radiation is likely to interfere with a healthy sleep… other than that, i really like the light idea, gotta try that.
Ron Larson says
Perhaps the best solution is to figure out why you are having problems waking up in the first place!
Do simple things:
1. NO TV in the bedroom.
2. Get to bed on time.
3. don’t eat a heavy meal late in the evening.
4. Drink a big glass of water before sleeping.
5. Open the drapes/blinds to sunlight enters your room.
6. If you can, take an evening stroll before bed. It will let you clear your mind.
7. A nice shower before bed also helps.
Currently I wake up with the vibrate setting on my cell phone, but, I don’t have to sleep on it. I place it on my nightstand and it makes enough of a racket that I wake up. However, I wouldn’t say its a great way to be awakened. I would much prefer the gentle awakening from the sun, but in the past I’ve been burned by a cloudy day and slept in for hours!
Positively Present says
Great ideas! I hate waking up in the morning to the terribly annoying sound of my alarm so I will try one of these ideas and see if it makes greeting the day a little easier. Thanks for the tips!
Considering the increasing number of studies suggesting that microwaves from cellphones have a connection to increased prevalence of brain tumours, I don’t know that I would be too keen to spend every night with it nestled under my pillow, directly beneath my head!
Mark Shead says
@Mel – Good point. However, most of the studies I’ve seen tend to suggest that it is the transmission from the phones that cause the problem–something that would be minimized when it isn’t being used. Of course you could always turn off the radio so no one wakes you up before you are ready.
My normal method of waking up is either an elbow in the ribs from the wife, or a small child hollering and screaming! Neither are particularly pleasant but BOTH are extremely effective!
Mark Shead says
@Mark – I often wake up to our Yorkie ringing a bell to go outside. It isn’t too bad, but still less than ideal.
Ben Brooks says
This reminds me that I really want to get one of the those alarm clocks that simulate the sunrise, I have heard wonders about those. I find using my iPhone to be great, though the song I have it playing really gets my attention now when I hear it on the radio.
Cary Grant says
Interestingly enough, the cold air idea works the opposite way for me! If the air outside my blanket is cold, it makes me want to curl up and stay in the warmth rather than get up. If I need to get up, I want it warmer in the room.
I set my Alarm Clock on my Macbook to wake me up, with “Easy Wake” set to 2 minutes so that it’s at least a little gradual. And it’s in the living room, so I have to get up to turn it off. Then I stumble my way to the coffeepot, make the coffee, and by the time I’m done with that, I’m usually awake enough to actually start the day.
Mark Shead says
@Cary Grant – I think it is harder to get up when it is cold outside the blankets as well. My contraption blew airs under the sheets which formed a bubble of cooler air and pushed the sheets off me.
Putting the computer in the other room sounds like a good idea, but I’m afraid I would sleep through it. I once slept through the apartment next to mine burning to the ground.
I once had the problem that my clock radio was not able to lower the volume below a certain point. The problem: I did not want to wake up my wife or my children with the Alarm.
Solution: I recorded my own alarm sound: I whispered: “Mark, get up!” (in German, as I don’t know if my sleeping ego will understand English ;-) ).
The effect is interesting: Although the volume is very, very low I still get up better than with any radio sound. I think it’s because I addressed myself. Perhaps it would have been even better (and sound less silly) if I would have recorded my wife’s voice.
Mark Shead says
@Thragor – Saying your name is an interesting idea since your unconscious is going to pay more attention to that than just about any other sound.
Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring is the best of those tipps. It’s just beautiful – even more in the early morning!
I have an alarm with three different methods. The first is the annoying buzzer (which I usually sleep through). The second is Nature Sounds (wind, forest, ocean) and then the radio.
I’ve also used alarms on my computer including a plugin for Winamp that allows you to wake up to your playlist.
Have a great day:)
The absolutely most enjoyable way to be woken up is with a gentle massage!
looking into the dawn simulators – sounds like a terrific idea…. thanks for this info!
Wow, you don’t like coffee? I love it. That would get me up, just need to install one in my bedroom. :)
Nicolas Soergel | An Extra Hour Every Day says
For many people the problem is not waking up but actually getting up. You therefore need to also put an incentive to get out of bed as soon as you woke up, such as:
– Something for breakfast you really enjoy
– Think of the nice shower
– Think of the most pleasing thing awaiting you on that day
What are you doing to actually get out of your bed?
I found music to be the best method, even better if you train yourself “Pavlov Style” to a certain track. It works wonders, not only in waking up, but in getting out of bed!
I use “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, from The Beach Boys, because of how it starts. The first few seconds (small calm intro) I stretch, then there’s a single drumbeat (means yellow light to me – or open eyes), and finally the loud rallying “wouldn’t it be nice” chorus kicks in, and at that point I jump out of bed like a well trained dog (exactly like a well-trained dog in fact!)
In fact it works so well once you learn to respond to it without thinking, that sometimes if I wake up naturally before the alarm time, and I don’t feel like getting out of bed, I manually put the music to play (I use my iPod with a mini stereo bellow my pillow) so it gets me out :D
I have a hard time waking up without light – Seasonal Affective Disorder and such. I have a dawn simulator next to the bed, the SAD light as well, and the alarm clock in a different room.
By far, the most effective thing for getting me out of bed in the morning is the “I-gotta-go-now” dance of the beagle next to my bed. Just knowing that if I don’t get up and get her out, I will be scrubbing a carpet gets me motivated like no other means. :)
The “my bowl is empty and I’m hungry NOW” dance of the cats as they knock things off my dresser is also an effective (but truly annoying) means of getting up.
Sigurdur Armannsson says
I use my cell phone and it works fine, except for these minor things:
1. If I have forgotten to recharge the phone it lets me and everyone in the house know.
2. Sometimes somebody working late sends me a payment in the middle of the night and the bank sends me an SMS. My wife doesn’t like new technology of this kind.
3. If I have gotten too little sleep and I try to snooze the alarm (two clicks) I sometimes do something wrong… I think maybe click three times, and the phone calls the last number uses. Luckily for me it’s very often my daughter but she isn’t very pleased about this.
4. Holidays in the middle of the week… hate them. I usually forget to turn off the alarm.
But usually everything is fine.
Mark Shead says
@Sigurdur – My phone will let me set different notifications (and volumes) for different events. So the phone can still ring, but SMS messages are silent. You might check to see if you can do something similar.
I have the problem with forgetting to turn it off and waking up when I really want to sleep in. This is particularly annoying when the last time I used it was something like 2am.
I have an absolute control about my sleep time. It’s quite usual for me waking me up one hour before my clock alarm rings. Then I get up, I drink a couple of glasses of water and start my daily gym session which lasts about half an hour. When finished I go back to bed setting the alarm half an hour later than the usual time. I cannot describe how I enjoy this “extra sleeping time” :-)
Years ago I used to work morning and afternoon. In some occasions I had only ten minutes to sleep before leaving home for working in the afternoon. I used to fall sleep immediately, to have some dreams and to wake up without needing any alarm.
I have heard about an alarm clock which analyzes your sleep phases and cuts down your sleep when you’re not in a deep one. Anybody knows about this?
Here are two interesting addresses I’ve just found :
cassie jones. says
i’ve tried basically everything in the book.
i set my ipod or radio to go off every morning @ 5:00. i also have three alarm clocks on my phone that go off as ringtones @ 4:45, 5:30, & 5:45.
nothing wakes me up. my entire family wakes up from all of my obnoxious alarms – but not me.
then i’m always late for whatever i’m doing that day.
& along w/ that, i fall asleep the second i get home everyday.
Mark Shead says
Maybe you need to go to bed earlier….
I think the best way to wake up is to the sun light. Because that is the most natural, most people are not able to sleep unless it is dark, and also when the sunlight comes into the room, your body automatically knows that the day has started. So what I do, is leave my blinds open during the night, because when you go to sleep, it is dark outside anyways, so it wont make much of a difference, but in the morning when the sun comes up, that will.
Also, for most people, the sun will *help* wake them up, but it won’t actually wake them up, so having some soft music, that you like, plus having the day light streaming in through the window, it should make a pretty good combo to wake you up more naturally.
In addition, showering in the morning will help a lot too, because having water splashed down on you, doesn’t only wake you up, but it is also very relaxing.
But because I am only 13, and although I LOVE to sleep in, -like today, I slept in until 2 p.m. when my phone rang- My mom or dad usually wake me up, so although I do do all of these things, I don’t really have to worry about this SO much…..yet.
Mark Shead says
The problem is that the sun doesn’t always come up at the right time to wake up to. :) I use to use a light that would come on with my alarm clock. It worked pretty well, but it still isn’t anywhere as great as having the sun come in your window to wake you up.
Greg Smith says
Funny I find as I mature and maintain a regular routine I wake at the same time every day, regardless of what time I went to bed the evening before. Having said, this I realize some people have a challenging time with their sleep patterns and therefore concede that this article is much needed and valuable advice.