Waking before the alarm

I’ve generally set an alarm for weekday mornings, though for big chunks of the last 15 years, it’s been aspirational. I might need to wake up by, say, 7 a.m. for the morning to run smoothly, but the odds are good a little one would be chirping by 5:45 or so.

However, now that my eldest is in high school — and thus the morning needs to start early — and my littlest has his own room — which means all of us are sleeping better — alarm clocks are featuring more prominently in my life. I set mine for 6:30 a.m. and I can reasonably expect that I will not be woken by something else before then.

Longtime readers know that my sleep “set point” is 7.4 hours/day. Over any longer period of time, this is what I average. I know this from almost 7 years of time tracking data. There are good nights and bad nights, but over the course of a month or two, this is where I end up.

Since I know this, I try to set my daily schedule to allow for this amount of sleep. I’m in my bed around 10:30 and relaxing, with the lights going off around 10:45 or 11. If they are out and I am out by then, this will allow for 7.4 hours of sleep. It actually allows for a little more, which explains the phenomenon of waking up somewhere between 6-6:30 on some chunk of mornings. On Friday night last weekend, for instance, I got in bed at 11 p.m., and sure enough, woke up at 6:25 a.m.

Waking before an alarm clock with no one demanding my attention is an interesting phenomenon. I often just lie there (I worry if I get up the house will start waking…). I will likely start using the time to read if this keeps happening. Though honestly, since I’m not really a morning person, I suspect this will lead me to wait a little longer before going to bed. We shall see.

Do you wake with an alarm clock or generally before? What time is your alarm going off these days?

In other news: Last call for the I Know How She Does It book discussion! I’m doing an author chat to benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Philadelphia. For a donation of $25 or more, you can join in. (That link goes to the registration form for my session; there is also a link to the donation site on that page where you can). I’d love to see some friendly faces; it will be at noon eastern tomorrow (2/11).

Photo: Sunrise from my retreat in Cape May this fall



6 thoughts on “Waking before the alarm

  1. I am NOT a morning person. My husband wakes up and immediately goes to his desk to do some work. What? I never wake up before the alarm – it doesn’t matter when I go to bed. Of course, I do tend to push the limits on when I go to bed! My Saturday wake up time is about 9 and that is often with not going to bed later the night before – in fact, sometimes I’m in bed earlier on Friday nights after the week’s accumulation of events and stresses.
    General I get up about 6:45 to start work at 7:30. I try to be going to sleep by 11.
    Have never understood the people that get up super early and say they just got used to it. I’m 57 and my body has never adjusted to early mornings!

  2. I wake up at 6:30 regardless of whether I have an alarm not. This wake up time is almost independent of when I go to sleep, too. If I go to bed at 9:30pm or midnight my eyes open at 6:30!

    It’s an ingrained habit at this point, probably because that’s the time we need to get up to get the elementary-aged kid to school on time.

    I have tried to get up earlier with the goal of doing a bunch of things before the kids get up, but it never works. NEVER. Either I can’t drag myself out of bed or the kids hear me shuffling around and wake up earlier, too.

  3. Also not a morning person. If it’s a school day, I set my alarm for 7:30, and my kid either gets up at 7 or at 7:30, or possibly doesn’t in which case I wake him up. He’s pretty independent now that he’s in high school and walks out to catch the bus at about 8:05, after which I may take the dog out (I prefer if possible to wait for the school buses to sweep through the neighborhood; his is the last — our high schoolers start later than the younger kids), head to the office, and/or settle in to work from home, depending on the day.

    If I need to set it for earlier to be up for some reason or other, then I do. If it’s not a school day and I’m able to work from home, I set the alarm for 8 a.m.

    Until he was in middle school, my son woke me up at about 7 every day, but generally not lots before that.

  4. I am NOT a morning person, but I also don’t really enjoy sleeping in. 7:20 would be my magic number, I think, based on my university days. But I tend to wake up around 6:30.
    I set an alarm a handful of times a year. I usually wake up early enough to get everything ready that needs doing before it’s time to get the kids off to school…and if not, one of the kids will always be awake and come and wake me. Some morning they’re going to surprise me and we’ll all wake up at 9:00 am and be very well-rested, but that feels years away.
    The kids are allowed to come to get us at 7 am on weekdays, 8 am on weekends; they are rarely late at knocking on the door at that point! I’d say 6 out of 7 days, I’ve woken up before that, though, without an alarm.
    I’ve tried, so many times over the years, to be more of a morning person. I’ve gotten up to go running. I’ve done morning pages. I’ve taken cold showers.
    I have finally come to accept I am just not a morning person (like pre-7:30 am), and probably never will be.

  5. I haven’t needed an alarm in almost 5 years. I know my 4.5 and 2.5 year Olds will always be awake by 7 am ha. So weird to think about my pre kid life where I had alatms for decades

  6. I AM a morning person. I do not use an alarm although I used to years ago. I’d rather wake up naturally and most times I’m on time.
    I wake myself up by focusing on recalling night dreams and recording them in my dream journal. Fascinating process!
    Oh, and I don’t drink coffee either! 😉

    I do have a 10 year old special needs grandson I tend to as well first thing, anywhere from 6:30-7:30. And he requires full supervision.

    Interesting topic!

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