The only way to hit snooze on this alarm is to catch the rocket flying around your room and stick in back on the base. I can’t decide if that’s clever or insane. Check out the full list of annoyingly creative alarm clocks. Nothing like being irritated into alertness to start your day off right!
Things that keep me up at night: Blogging. The latest Smash episode. (Am I the only theater nerd still into that show? Seriously, tell me this song is not gorGEOUS.) The Internets. Bills. Work. E-mail. Laundry. Blogging. Kids that reappear like groundhogs every 5 minutes after bedtime until I threaten to play whack-a-mole with the next tiny head that pokes out that door. Writing. And especially those weird spiders in Pakistan that have engulfed entire trees in their apocalyptic webs that I can’t even think about without doing a full body shiver. (Seriously, click that link at your own risk. Supposedly the spiders are good ’cause they eat mosquitoes and lessen malaria but holy crap Nature, could you not have found a less creepy thing attracted to blood suckers? Hugh Hefner not available?)
My point: there are lots of things that keep me up at night. But only one thing wakes me up in the morning. Me.
This was not always the case. One of my most memorable Christmas gifts as a child was an alarm clock. I know, I was a weird kid. (Mom, Dad, I’m sorry.) It wasn’t just any alarm clock though it was the super deluxe alarm clock with dual alarms, a battery backup and even those slidey thingies to adjust the bass and balance and Josh-Groban tenor and whatever other random music words I can think of. My favorite part was the massive snooze button that took up so much real estate I could basically slap my alarm any which way and still manage to get an extra ten minutes of pillow time. Exactly what an AP junkie dreams of! My parents specifically told me, “We got you the best alarm clock at the store, honey! We know how much you love your alarm and this one should last you ’till college!”
And it did. That baby not only got me through 4 neurotic years of high school – I had to get up crazy early so I’d have enough time to meticulously apply all my heavy black eyeliner just in case Robert Smith happened by my cafeteria at lunchtime – but it lasted through college, graduate school and the first five or so years of marriage. I loved that thing. The kids broke it. Of course they did. They hang from chandeliers until they pull them right out of the ceiling and then chase each other with steak knives – how was my alarm clock supposed to make it through that gauntlet?
But the kids broke me of something else: my alarm clock dependence. When you’re getting up at 2 a.m., 4 a.m., 4:30 a.m., 4:44 a.m., and 5:30 a.m. with a cranky baby, who’s to say when the day really starts? So I forgot about the alarm clock and instead changed to waking up whenever I woke up. I know this sounds very decadent but what I discovered is that I sleep better and feel better upon waking if I allow myself to wake up naturally.
And it turns out that I wake myself up pretty consistently about 7.5 hours after I go to bed. (Assuming no one barfs in my bed in the middle of the night which happens more than you might think. Kids do not like to vomit alone. They will hold it in all the way up three flights of stairs, wait until they’ve shaken me awake and then upchuck all over themselves, me, my bed and the floor. And yet they say they can’t make it to the toilet in time.)
And new research supports this theory pointing out that one of the worst things you can do for yourself is to hit that big ol’ snooze button. This delightful YouTube video from asapSCIENCE explains exactly why you’re not doing yourself any favors by trying to sneak in some extra shut-eye this way.
Most of us know that our bodies follow natural circadian rhythms that follow the daylight and that when we do sleep it follows a cyclical pattern between stages 1-4 and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. What a lot of us don’t consciously realize though are the consequences of disrupting our natural rhythms. That brain fog, grouchiness and mid-morning slump may make you think you aren’t a morning person but they may just be the result of being jerked out of a very deep sleep. (Or it could be because your favorite morning radio show will not stop plugging a certain diet pill every 10 minutes despite the fact that their only support for its effectiveness are random people who call in and cry a lot and claim to have lost 500 pounds on it until I want to find every last one of them and shake them. ANYHOW.)
And not only does interrupted sleep make you grouchy and unfocused, it also makes you hungrier to the tune of several hundred calories a day, says a new rigorous sleep study out of the University of Colorado. Participants gained an average of two pounds per week when they slept five hours a night. If that’s not enough for you, the scientists added that the extra food intake was mainly in the form of simple carbohydrates as people seem to crave sugar when they’re tired. (Dear Scientists, I could have told you that myself. See: Charlotte vs The Jelly Beans, case study of 1.) The ideal, unsurprisingly, is to let yourself fall asleep, sleep 7-8 hours, and then awaken naturally. And whatever you do, don’t hit the snooze button as you’re only prolonging your pain.
Of course there are times when I absolutely must be awake at a very certain time in which situation I do set my alarm clock (and it’s strategically placed across the room from my bed) but if I go to bed on time I usually wake up on my own 10-30 minutes before my alarm. These days I still get up early but it feels like it’s on my terms. Bonus: allowing yourself to wake naturally is supposed to help with lucid dreaming which I’ve never been able to do but sounds really freaky cool.
Do you wake up naturally or pound the alarm? (Now you’re singing Nicki Minaj, you’re welcome!) Do you have any tricks for waking up on time? Are you a morning lark or a night owl by nature? Any of you able to lucid dream (dream lucidly?)?