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My question is pretty simple How do you wake yourself up on time?. Of course the most simple idea is to set an alarm clock or get someone else to wake you up but what are other methods you can employ to wake yourself up on time?


@Weronika has presented a valid point "What's wrong with the simplest solution?" The main problem is that it doesn't work 100% of the time or even 99% of time. Using an alarm clock can only do so much.

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What's the point of this question? What's wrong with the simplest solution? Are you looking for a method that meets your particular criteria (what are they?), or just a laundry list of all possible methods, no matter how impractical? – weronika Jul 8 '12 at 7:09
Buy a dog and make sure to give him breakfast everyday. He'll get you up! – HLGEM Jul 9 '12 at 21:36
up vote 14 down vote accepted

Effective use of alarms

Simple is often better so an alarm is for me the one tested and true method for waking up. That being said, there are some effective ways of using an alarm. The obvious one is to put the alarm device outside of reach so that you have to get up to turn it off. Perhaps even leave it in a different room, for example in the bathroom strategically close to the sink... It is also a good idea to use as alarm a song or melody you enjoy. I find it generally less pleasing to be waken up by sheer noise, so a more comfortable sound can be helpful. Hook up your smartphone/iPod/whatever to loudspeakers in the living room and have it play a song at the time you should get up.

Wake up early every day

Another method I'd like to suggest for waking up on time is to make a habit of waking up "on time" every day. For this to become a habit though, your brain needs some rewiring which, silly as it may sound, can be achieved by training on waking up at the moment the alarm sounds. Basically this involves going through your entire everyday night routine, set the alarm a few minutes ahead and get up almost immediately once the alarm goes off. Repeat until these actions are performed subconsciously. I think many people, myself included, have had problems of their habit being not getting up when the alarm sounds, but rather repeatedly hitting the snooze button for 5x10 minutes of more (useless) sleep. Successfully replacing bad habits with better ones usually requires deliberate training, and, as argued by Pavlina (links above) this is true also for waking up in the morning.

Get enough sleep

If you make sure to get enough sleep, like 7+ hours, you can often count on waking up by yourself without relying on any external aid. I find this the most pleasant way of waking up because I naturally wake up in a state of light sleep, while when using an alarm I feel that more often than not I am brutally waken up in deep, deep sleep. The latter situation is not quite ideal since you can hardly even think straight in such a condition and the reasons for staying in bed will at the time seem to outweigh by far those for getting up.


On the topic of effective alarms, and as mentioned by Hauser in a comment below, there exist smartphone apps that won't let you turn off the alarm until you've put some attention into solving a small puzzle or similar challenge. Here is a list and summary of some related Android apps.

ElectricSleep, which can be found in the list above, wakes you up at an ideal time of light sleep by monitoring your movement during the night and thus tracking your sleep cycles. I've seen products based on the same principle, but personally didn't find them attractive enough to spend money on due to having to wear what seemed like a bulky wrist-band. The smartphone app should be worth a shot though.

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+1 there are some smartphone apps where you have to solve a minor mathematical problem before alarm sounds stop. – Hauser Jul 8 '12 at 12:24
Can you give us the names? That would be super helpful. – Jeel Shah Jul 8 '12 at 13:10
Waking habit works great for me. But when Day Light Saving comes, it takes a few days to readjust. – the_lotus Jul 13 '12 at 19:45
I once had a phone that made me do a simple math exercise to shut it down. You can't imagine how hard 14 + 5 is until you have to do it when you were sleeping one nanosecond before. – Demian Kasier Jul 13 '12 at 23:31

I bet that the most important reason to wake up on time is that you have an important thing you want to do in that time, you have enough motivation to wake up for it,

for example if someone promises me to give me 100K$ at 6:00 a.m, of course I will be ready before that time,

so I guess the best method to be wake yourself up on time is that you have set an activity that you believe in and you have enough motivation for it,

I know that from myself, when I am motivated and on track in some project that I love, I wake up easily on time, in other times when I am not motivated and feel bad I don't wake up early until time for job ticks, even my mother or sister wakes me up

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All what you said is true, but in my experience getting enough sleep (duh) and having a pretty consistent sleep cycle helps as well. Also: The snooze key is your enemy. Do not use it. – 0x6d64 Jul 8 '12 at 6:57
@0x6d64 of course what you said is true, there are many ways that help to wake up early, but what I mean when I have an important thing that I am motivated to do, the simplest tool works well – mfadel Jul 8 '12 at 7:19
@mfadel - I wholeheartedly agree. Motivation is the single biggest factor. I'm usually terrible at getting up but when I've got an early morning flight I have no trouble getting up because I'm terrified of missing it. – LRE Jul 8 '12 at 23:08

I apologies in advance for my answer being a bit off the beaten path.

Step 1. develop your brains ability to keep accurate time
- start simply with a digital stop watch
- wait until the time reaches on the minute (ex: 3:42:00 PM)
- now look away from the watch and try to look back at the watch when it reaches exactly 60 seconds later..WITHOUT COUNTING IN YOUR HEAD TO YOURSELF, just relax, do something else for the next minute, and your brain will 'trigger' you at approximately the right time - continue practicing this until you have high accuracy.. and repeat over a number of days

Step 2. practice throughout the day predicting the time
- begin to translate your previously learned skill to predicting the precise time of the day
- without looking at a clock, guess the time.. again don't try to deduce the time, just relax and let the part of your brain that you developed in the first step take over
- this will take plenty of practice, but slowly develop your ability to predict within 10's of minutes (ex. you say its 3:15 and its actually 3:24), and then down to 5's of minutes, and finally down to single minutes

Step 3. experiment with short naps
- conduct the following two steps when you are healthy, and not exhausted (if those constraints do not apply, you brain can override your wish to practice in exchange for healthy sleep)
- before falling asleep stare at a clock and say the time to yourself
- say the time that you would like to wake up to yourself
- practice waking up at roughly the correct time
- if needed, practice with an alarm set to connect the skill of identifying the time with the ability to wake up

Step 4. begin to experiment at night
- on the weekends (when there is little penalty for making mistakes) repeat the previous steps, but sleep for normal amounts of time

Background: When I was young, I realized on occassions, I had the ability to wake up at times that I wanted without using an alarm clock. I developed this as I got older. When I was in college, I would frequently only have the ability to sleep for short amounts of time and actually routinely could take naps for as little as 5 minutes. Now, because of my profession, I have the ability to sleep whenever and however long I want. I've used that situation to continue to refine my abilities to minimize the amount of sleep that I have, while maximizing my performance.

I frequently refer to the mass between my ears as 'my brain and I'... meaning the low level, inner workings, subconscience part as 'my brain' and the high level, conscience part as 'I'. I am happy to explain that 'we work together'. What I described in the previous steps is an example of this.

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I try to guess when the microwave goes off - also a good exercise – w00t Jul 10 '12 at 19:25
This worked a couple times for me too. But I've never come around to make it a habit. – Demian Kasier Jul 13 '12 at 23:32

I've had great success with these iOS apps: Motion X Sleep and Sleep Cycle.

They monitor your movements in bed and wake up up during light sleep. Motion X sleep also doubles as a pedometer, pretty neat.

Zeo is pro equipment: It monitor your brain activity, so it's more precise than just monitoring your movement.

Any of these will also help you dail in your sleep just by observing how your day influences your sleep patterns.

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