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At present I'm a night-owl. However, I'd dearly like to change.

One of the problems is obvious - going to bed earlier. But I'll ignore that for this question.

The question is - if I want to wake at 5am (or even 6) - I struggle with alarm clocks. I sometimes even set 3 of them to make sure I wake. The problem with that is others in the house hear them. I don't want to wake others at 5am. So what silent methods are there to wake up? The 'vibrate' mode on my cellphone is not enough, sadly (he says from experience).

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Wake up at the same time every day, no matter when you went to sleep. Most people start waking up before the alarm after a few weeks of this. – M.K. Jan 26 '12 at 21:53

11 Answers 11

up vote 14 down vote accepted

Similar to one of the other suggestions use a light. I have a separate table lamp on my nightstand with a low watt build (20w) plugged into a simple lamp timer. I have it set to 10 minutes before my radio alarm. With the lights on when the radio goes off it help to keep you awake. And with a low brightness bulb you won't wake anyone else.

Focus on your wake time since this is the only thing you can really control, your sleep time will adjust as you become tired from having longer days.

Also, do it it phases. Don't try to shift your wake time more than 20-30 minutes and then keep it at that for several days. You should be able to slowly work into a different cycle.

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+1 for doing it in phases, as an assistant SleepChart can help you keep track of the progress; just try to get sleeping earlier daily going and then for the subsequent days the red lines (circadian approximations) help you determine when to sleep that day. It also allows you to play around with trying to sleep 30 - 40 minutes earlier and see how well that goes. Just don't rush it! You want to be sleeping early around the bottom of your screen, not after a day or week... SleepChart features other nice stuff, the article might be worth reading. – Tom Wijsman Jan 29 '12 at 13:34
Related: – Tom Wijsman Jan 29 '12 at 13:40
using a light is for sure a great method, but it is only possible if there are no other people in the same bedroom which do not want to wake up at the same time – MostlyHarmless Dec 7 '13 at 11:44

Unless you are dedicated enough to hold or sleep with your phone touching you, I think you're out of luck with vibrate mode. My alarm goes at 4:45, and the fact that I know others will hear it gets me up to turn it off. I put it somewhere that I must get out of bed to turn it off, and am in the habit of knowing better than to get back in bed. Sure... occasionally I hit the 5 minute snooze, but generally I grab a towel and get into the shower. From then on, you're up.

Another quieter option might be to put a pair of earbuds/headphones on your device. You don't have to wear the headphones, but if they are in the vicinity of your your head you'll hear it if you put the volume up high. Unless you are sleep deprived, you should hear the headphones, but your housemates won't. I'm sure others will have creative ideas, but this has worked for me in the past.

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I keep my cell phone under my pillow and the vibrations wake me up well enough. But it's a bit of a shock-wakeup. – M.K. Jan 26 '12 at 21:51

You could try a light alarm clock or Dawn Simulator. This would, of course, require you sleeping in a separate room if you don't want others to also wake up at the crack of (artificial) dawn.

It is very well known that

Blue light regulates our secretion of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Exposed to blue light, we limit the production of melatonin, and we stay alert and awake; in the absence of blue light, melatonin production ramps up, and we get sleepy.

(quoted from this article)

And an excellent study titled "Transition from Dim to Bright Light in the Morning Induces an Immediate Elevation of Cortisol Levels" will give a supporting view.

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I had the same problem: I wanted to rise at 5am, by partner didn't! Eventually I bought an "Invisible clock" (as mentioned in the previous post). This is basically a timer that can be set to vibrate (rather than beep). It comes with a clip, which I attached to my watch strap at night. It's a little bulky but not so much that it bothered me. I found it best to insert the timer into the clip the "wrong" way round (you'll see what I mean if you get one). This allowed me to easily operate the clip with my right hand, but keep the timer display the right way up so I could read the display. The amount of vibration can be varied from strong to weak. I found the weakest setting was enough to wake me, but not my partner. Once or twice it did fail to wake me but only when I was intending to get up after just two or three hours sleep, other than that it worked well. Since having children I gave up on the early morning thing (I need all the sleep I can get now!), but I still use this method on the odd occasion I do need to rise early.

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Another option is to use a bed shaker like the one on Sonic Bomb Alarm the alarm is very loud but you can set the bed shaker only. Think this is more effective than the vibrate mode of a phone.

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Maybe You have cellphone with Android? If yes, I would recommend You Sleep as Android or ElectricSleep apps. You can put phone on bed, and app will try to determine best moment to wake You up in given time window. Then You can set sound alarm volume to raise gradually - probably first two seconds of sound alarm will wake You up. This idea works for me.

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I find that I am acutely aware of the specific ringtone I have set as an alarm. Since it is the same "song" every morning that wakes me, it doesn't have to be super loud. My body is trained to react to those certain sounds at any volume.

As a safeguard, however, I ensure that the alarm will grow in volume every 10 seconds. And the only way to turn it off is to scan a QR code which is taped to the inside of the bathroom cabinet (I use Sleep As Android). So if I'm not in the bathroom in a jiffy, the volume will soon be loud enough to awake both me and my wife, which adds accountability.

As an added bonus, we leave a fan on during the night. It creates a humming sound in the background which lowers the amount of perceived sounds. This not only helps when the neighbors' music is too loud at night, but also when I wake up and start fumbling around the room while she is sleeping.

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Try the iLuv Vibe Plus, you can set the speaker off, and only use the vibration device in your bed. You can even set the level of intensity to shake you up in the morning.

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Here's a new device. It's a silent alarm clock with a device that you wear on your wrist. It seems like a pretty cool device; it's an alarm but the whole system allows you to track your sleep patterns The only downside is that it requires an iPhone.

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I had the same problem and just bought a cheap casio watch (around 30 euro) which vibrates and only you can feel it

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I posted this in another question, but think it's worth mentioning here. This is kinda of like an old school pager: "Invisible Clock" I know it's used to not disturb others by people who need to take meds around the clock.

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