Imagine waking up to your alarm clock. Now imagine gently waking up as the sunlight fills your room with light. Which one seems like a better recipe for having a wonderful, high performance day?
Alarm clocks are designed to wake you up, so they make annoying and jarring sounds to jerk you right out of your peaceful sleep. You have to wonder if this is really a good way to start your day. I mean, really, do you want the first few seconds of each day to be associated with something containing the word “alarm”?
When I was a kid, my brother and a friend decided we wanted to see what the early morning cartoons were like. I constructed a device with a small fire alarm style bell, hooked to a transformer, hooked to one of those switches that you can use to turn your lights on and off when you are out of town. At 4am, the thing went off and it has got to be one of the most jarring wake-up experiences I’ve ever had. The few seconds before it went off probably wiped out 2 or 3 hours worth of sleep. (And by the way, at 4am in rural Kansas, the television stations weren’t even broadcasting.)
Many of us can’t wait for the sun to wake us up naturally. Here is a list of several things you can do to make sure you wake up in the best way possible:
- Wake up to Light – When I was growing up, my dad would wake me up by turning on my light when he woke up. This gave me a few minutes to wake up just from the light in the room. You can do the same thing for yourself by using a timer that hooks into an outlet. If you are worried that the light might not wake you up, you can set an alarm as a backup.
- Wake up to a CD – There are a lot of alarm clocks that can be set to play a CD in the morning. Personally, I must be a light sleeper because the sound of the CD spinning up usually wakes me. In college, I set up my computer to play a CD at 5am to wake me up. One night, my roommate was using my computer and left the sound turned way up loud with a different CD in the drive–I woke up, terrified, trying to figure out why there was suddenly a concert in my room.
- Wake up to your iPod – Many of the iPods have an alarm clock feature. If you have an external set of speakers, this can be a great way to wake up.
- Cell Phone – Some cell phones aren’t much better than an alarm, but with the customizable ring tones, you maybe able to rig up a cell phone as an alarm that will wake you gently from sleep.
- Sunlight – If your schedule allows you to wake up to the sun, this is a hard option to beat. Just make sure you leave your shades open enough to let in the sunlight. If you want to get really fancy, you can set up a mirror to help direct the light toward your bed.
If you are going to wake up to music, I would suggest something that starts out soft and gradually gets louder. Appalachian Spring by Copeland seems to work best for me. It starts very softly, almost inaudible, and about 3 minutes in gets very very loud.
Originally published May 29, 2007.