Waking Up Without An Alarm Clock
Who here likes their alarm clock?
I know don’t have a great relationship with mine, especially on a dark and dreary winter’s day. How blissful would it be to wake up naturally, when you’re supposed to, and not have to be rudely awakened by a buzz, beep or ting!
On the other hand, rather than have your alarm rudely interrupt your sleep, have you ever woken up just before your alarm went off?
There’s a biological reason for you waking up like that and it’s known as PER.
PER is a protein we all have which levels vary throughout the day. It peaks in the evening and drops at night. When PER levels are low, blood pressure and heart rate slow, and you think less clearly. This drop in PER levels is why you become sleepy at night.
When PER rises, about an hour before your body thinks it will wake up, your blood pressure and heart rate rise back up. Your body also releases stress hormones like cortisol, all of which slowly wake you up. Your body hates the alarm because it’s stressful and jars you out of sleep – so your system wakes you up just in time to avoid it.
Not convinced? In a study from Germany’s University of Lubeck, researchers asked 15 volunteers to sleep in a lab for three nights, telling them one day they’d be woken at 6AM, while the other two they’d be woken at 9AM.
But the researchers lied, and woke them up at 6AM all three days. They found that when participants expected to wake up at 6AM, their bodies anticipated the time and released stress hormones at 4:30AM. But when they were told they’d be woken up at 9AM, no stress hormones were released and they woke up groggier.
Of course, this system only works if your body expects to wake up at a particular time. That’s why it’s so important to wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day – yes, even on weekends. Otherwise, you disrupt your rhythm and your body gets confused. Try keeping a regular sleep schedule for 3 weeks and see how you do.
Another surefire way to remain super-sleepy in the morning? Hitting your snooze button. Even if you don’t wake up naturally, as soon as your alarm buzzes, your body floods itself with hormones to help you wake up. Going back to sleep tells your body to relax and disrupts this, so when you finally do wake up, you’re still super-tired. These effects can cut into the rest of your day, impairing brain function.
If you really need an extra boost, try some naps, coffee or blue light instead. But keeping a regular sleep schedule is your best option.
Do you have trouble keeping a regular sleep schedule?
Would you ever try to live without an alarm clock?