How to Wake Up on Your First Alarm

Do you lose time every morning to your unfortunate snoozing habit? Learn how to wake up on your first alarm.

By Nicole Gleichmann

You wake up to the unwelcome sound of your alarm. Your first response is hitting snooze to delay your wakeup time, even though you set that alarm for a reason. When you press snooze—or worse, turn off the alarm—you waste a lot of your morning. You may not get to eat breakfast, workout, or even shower before work.

What’s more, hitting the snooze button results in something called fragmented sleep. Fragmented sleep causes you to feel more tired when you wake up than you would have if you awoke at your first alarm.

But don’t fret. With the right strategies, you can conquer this bad habit and set yourself up for a fulfilling morning.

8 Tips to Help You Wake Up on Your First Alarm

1. Move Your Alarm Clock Away from Your Bed

Our first tip is one you may have already tried: put your alarm clock far away from your bed. Even if this hasn’t worked for you in the past, when you combine it with some of the ideas below, you may find that it helps.

2. Get Moving Right Away

After you set your alarm clock far from your bed, the next trick is to get moving. And I don’t just mean walking over to it. When you get there, make yourself do a short burst of exercise. This could be jumping jacks, pushups, or jumping rope. Movement will energize your body and mind, making it hard to go back to sleep.

3. Try a New Type of Alarm Clock

If early mornings are still a thing you dream of, you may need to ditch your phone alarm for something better. Fancy alarms use tricks to help you wake up.

One of our favorites is a smart watch. These watches use your movement, heart rate, and bedtime to determine your sleep cycle. When you set an alarm, it will wake you up when you are no longer in deep sleep or REM sleep.

Other alarms use light to stimulate a sunrise. Because our bodies have evolved to wake up at first light, these alarms allow you to wake up feeling energized.

4. Set Two Alarms—One 90 Minutes Before You Want to Wake Up

As you sleep, your brain cycles through different stages of sleep, a full cycle of which takes roughly 90 minutes. It is easiest for us to wake up between sleep cycles.

When you set an alarm for 6 A.M., there is a good chance that you are going to be woken up in the middle of your sleep cycle. However, if you set an alarm 90 minutes before you are supposed to wake up, you can start your sleep cycle anew. 90 minutes later, at your second alarm, you are more likely to wake up between sleep cycles.

5. Follow a Routine

Humans evolved to be creatures of habit. While many of us have different bedtimes and wake up times throughout the week, an inconsistent schedule can make it hard to wake up to an alarm. Do your best to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. This can help with both falling asleep and waking up on time.

6. Get More Sleep

Are you getting 7 or more hours of sleep each night? If not, a lack of sleep might be causing you to hit the snooze button. The solution? Go to bed earlier. Slowly move your bedtime up 15 minutes until you find that you wake up easier in the morning.

7. Set an Intention

It is one thing to set an alarm and hope that you wake up early. It is another to set an alarm and accept no other option. To help you wake up at your first alarm, give yourself a pep talk each night. Tell yourself that you are going to wake up at your first alarm and remind yourself of why it is important to do so. Morning you will be primed to wake up when you hear your alarm.

8. Do Something Fun

Is there something that you like doing enough that you would get up for it? A morning routine that involves a yoga class, a chocolate truffle, or reading a chapter of a thrilling book may be just what you need to jump out of bed at your first alarm. But be strict with yourself—even one snooze, and you don’t get your reward.


Tools to Help You Get Out of Bed Quickly

If the tips above don’t get you out of bed and keep you there, here some gadgets and apps that might do the trick. 

Alarmy 

The app, touting itself as the “World’s Most Annoying alarm clock app,” forces users to complete a task before they can turn their alarm off. Tasks can include vigorously shaking the phone, solving a math problem (which is difficult enough without being in the throes of sleep inertia), or moving to a predetermined location to take a picture. Devilishly clever, Alarmy is a sound way to make sure you start off your day on time.

Ruggie 

The Ruggie is an alarm clocked dressed up as a bedside rug. The device works using pressure sensors in inside the mat; after the alarm inside the mat begins to ring, Ruggie owners have to walk to and remain on top of the device to power off the alarm. Also, it looks really soft.

Clocky 

The “original runaway alarm clock on wheels” is likely the most novel (or annoying) device on the list. The premise is simple: as the alarm goes off, the clock will drive away and beep until you can catch it and turn it off. It’s about as subtle as a sledgehammer, but there’s no more invigorating way to wake up than reenacting the chicken chase scene from Rocky II with your alarm clock.

Sonic Bomb Alarm Clock and Bed Shaker 

For those who want to make very sure they have no chance of snoozing or sleeping through their alarm, check this out. The aptly named Sonic Bomb assaults sleepers with a three-pronged alarm system; the clock itself rings at an incredible 113 dB (a few dB lower than a jet take-off), a pad under your pillow vibrates and flashing lights erupt from a display on the clock. While the device does have a snooze button available, very few are likely to want to wake up to the alarm system more than once a morning.

Phillips Wake-Up Light

Part of what drives people to snooze is that their bodies haven’t received the proper cues that tell them to wake up, one of which is morning light. This alarm clock and light system attempt to replicate the sunrise, brightening gradually over 20-40 minutes before the alarm goes off. While it’s one of the pricier items on the list at $109.79, Phillips claims to have clinical data backing up its utility, and if it doesn’t work for you there’s a 90-day money back guarantee.

SWAN Teasmade and Alarm Clock 

Woe to the coffee drinkers reading – the only bedside brewer/alarm clock we could find was for tea (or instant coffee). While you’re sleeping, the SWAN alarm clock begins to boil two cups worth of water so you’ll wake up to an alarm and a cup full of steaming water ready for your tea. Before you ask, yes, the plug does fit US and Canadian outlets. Tea isn’t just for the Brits.


Conclusion

Few of us easily wake up to an early phone alarm without some intentional effort. Use psychology and technology to ensure that you wake up at your first alarm. It might take more than one trick to make it work, but your daytime energy and productivity will be worth it.


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