Beep beep! Beep beep!! It’s wake-up time and your alarm clock rings. But you’re so tired, and the bed is so comfortable. Before you know it, you hit snooze. And in a few minutes you hit snooze again. And Again. It’s a penalty-free grace period that never expires – after all, you’ll get back up eventually, won’t you? No problem.
Unfortunately, those deliciously wasted 20 or 30 minutes of snoozing can become problematic. Adding insult to injury, the sleep you manage to get between snooze alarms doesn’t benefit you much anyway. “For most of us, this alarm goes off at a time when we’re probably in REM sleep, one of the most restorative stages of sleep,” says Ilene Rosen, MD, associate professor of medicine at the hospital. from the University of Pennsylvania. , which studies sleep disorders and sleep deprivation. But once REM sleep is interrupted, Rosen says, you don’t immediately return to the same stage. So those extra nine minutes after the alarm aren’t very restful. “You’re changing too short,” she said.
Of course, waking up is difficult, sometimes even after eight o’clock. This is why so many people fall victim to the siren song of the snooze button. What to do? We asked sleep experts for answers.
Work on your timing
Although you’re usually in REM sleep when you wake up, your alarm may go off during a deeper sleep cycle instead. The resulting drowsiness may be one of the reasons you’re particularly tempted to hit snooze. “You set an artificial time to wake up that’s out of sync with your body rhythm,” says Nathaniel Watson, MD, professor of medicine and co-director of the University of Washington Center for Sleep Medicine. To address this issue, some sleep tracking apps, such as SleepScore recommended by Wirecutter, monitor your sleep cycles and wake you at an optimal time within a scheduled range (e.g., during non-REM stage 1 light sleep). instead of non-REM deep stage 3), increasing your chances of waking up feeling refreshed and ready for the day.
Go for a softer sound
You might expect that the louder and more unpleasant the alarm, the more effective it will be at waking you up. In fact, it can have the opposite effect: As W. Christopher Winter, MD, president of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine and author of The rested child, says, “A lot of times when people hear that discordant sound, they turn it off immediately,” to go back to sleep. Instead, he suggests trying soothing sounds (birds chirping, bells chiming, a favorite song) that gradually increase in volume and peak when you wake up. “It kind of allows you to wake up, become more aware and thoughtful about your actions, and SO get up,” Winter said. You can find a range of more enjoyable sounds in your phone’s clock feature, on a few of our alarm clock picks, and in all of our alarm clock and sleep tracker app recommendations.
“Light tells our brain to be awake,” Rosen says. “If you have trouble getting up in the morning, a brighter room will be easier to wake up to.” If the actual sunrise is your desired wake-up time, leave your blinds up a bit at night, as long as the light sources outside your home – streetlights, lampposts, neighbours’ off-season Christmas decorations – are not visible through your window (because they may prevent you from falling asleep in the first place). Or consider a smart tint, which you can program to rise at a certain time.
If it’s still dark when you need to wake up, turn on a lamp as soon as the alarm goes off (it’s even better if you have to get out of bed to do so, see “Getting up” below). Artificial lighting is not as bright as the sun, but turning it on is more useful than staying in the dark. Otherwise, a sunrise alarm clock, which slowly brightens the room for the 15 to 30 minutes before your alarm goes off, can dim the alarm clock. Some models, such as our top pick, the Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light HF3520, start out with a soothing red-tinted glow that gradually transitions into a bright, room-filling white light, accompanied by the chirping of birds (or other soft audio option).
Incite yourself with scents
While smells may not necessarily wake you up as effectively as bright lights or loud sounds, they can at least get you out of bed once your alarm wakes you up. Rosen says she used to program her coffee maker to finish brewing just before her alarm went off: “It was an association like, ‘Look, all I have to do is go to the kitchen and fill the cup, and I can start to feel better.’ Similarly, Winter was up to the task in his bread machine, and the aroma that wafted through his house 30 minutes before his scheduled wake-up time was “really powerful and quite uplifting,” he says.
Unlike cows, humans cannot sleep standing up, Rosen points out. “So if you get up, even if you’re tired and not feeling very well, you can at least perform the movements necessary to promote your alertness,” she says. Watson says some of his patients have reported success with Clocky, a roller clock that moves across the room when its alarm goes off, so you have to crawl around and find it to turn it off. For me, a cell phone (or an alarm clock) left in the bathroom does the trick: not only does it force me to walk around and turn off the alarm, but at that point, I’m also at a no brushing my teeth teeth and shower. Or you can try alarm apps, including Sleep as Android tested by Wirecutter, which require you to perform tasks such as taking several steps or scanning a QR code to stop the noise. Another free app available for iPhones as well as Androids, Alarmy (iOS or Android) prompts you to shake your phone back and forth, which I also resorted to when I knew I would be hesitant to wake.
Raise the stakes
Getting up for essential appointments (like jobs and international flights) isn’t necessarily difficult, but waking up for lower-stakes events (like that morning workout I vowed to do today today for sure) may seem impossible. “The brain kind of knows what’s ‘needed’ and what’s kind of ‘bonus’, and can often sleep through the bonus stuff,” says Winter. One way around this problem is to make the event more “necessary”. For morning workouts, sign up for a non-refundable fitness class or schedule a run with a friend who won’t forgive you if you fire. For brunch, tell your date that you will pay for the meal if you are late.
Call for a human awakening
You could use wake-up calls at the hotel when traveling, why not at home? Just tap your favorite morning person to call you when you need it. (I hope they’re reliable and talkative, too.) That’s what Rosen sometimes did when she was particularly sleep-deprived during her residency years. I use my sister – after five minutes of hearing from her crisis of the day, there’s no way I can go back to sleep. Now that we live on opposite coasts and his route coincides perfectly with my waking time, our calls have become more frequent.
Sleep more (and better)
We saved this strategy for last because we thought it was the one you would least want to hear. But as Watson explains, you probably wouldn’t even need an alarm if you consistently got a good night’s sleep — you’d wake up spontaneously whenever you wanted, assuming you went to bed early enough. Unfortunately, few people are able or willing to get a full 7-8 hours of sleep every night, let alone turn off their electronics, avoid alcohol and coffee before bed, or skip other substances. and sleep-inhibiting activities.
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