Alarm Clock Fever

By | April 9th, 2006 | 8 Comments | General

6:19 am, Monday morning and you are sound asleep. Then all of a sudden those LED numbers change and your newly acquired Spring Break cruise vacation to the Bahamas is now over. You reach over to hit the snooze button, but then think twice about it as you want to get a quick check at ESPN before heading off to school or work.

This is your alarm clock, and the reality is that is the worst sound in the world. Many would rather hear nails on a chalkboard than that “ringing” sound in the morning. So why do we continue to have our lives run by alarm clocks? Or if your in school – bells? If you visit any high school you will find that the students’ lives are run by bells, what? How can a small little bell run somebody’s life? Well, it is simple! When the bell goes off you sit down, when it goes off again you get up and go to the next class where the bell then rings. Then you repeat the process all over again. Surely, many of you have been through the drill.

The Snooze Button

This little bar is probably the worst item ever created because with the touch of the button one can completely eliminate the purpose of the alarm clock. However, if you ask ten people at least eight of them will say they hit the snooze button that morning. Why do we do it? Do we honestly think that those seven minutes of freedom will improve our day tremendously? No, most people really don’t think that, but what they do think about is hitting that snooze button 3 or 4 times. That is between 21 and 28 minutes (for those math challenged folks), that’s quite a bit of time. If you could sleep for 21 to 28 minutes more everyday it is an absolute certainty that a majority of people would take advantage of the opportunity.

Dependence

So why do alarm clocks run our lives? Our dependence on the alarm clock relies mainly on our staying up later. Experts say that you should not need an alarm clock to wake up the in morning. When you wake up you should just plain be ready to get up and start the day. The problem is you cannot do that! This is the drill – Wake up at the crack of dawn to get ready for school. Go to school all day long – then get home between 3pm and 4pm. Next you suffer through your homework – well at least some of it. Finally, you are done and you either go to the television or the computer. Then all of a sudden it is 10:30 and you have to get up at 6:20am. You quickly hustle off, take your shower and get to bed around 10:50 – but it take you 30 minutes to settle down and get to sleep. You have no gotten only 7 hours of sleep – but knowing most teenagers, you are probably one of the better ones.

Our society is sleep deprived and we rely on these alarm clocks because we attempt to cram to much into our lives. We take on new projects when we are already to busy to begin with and we are constantly on our cellphones, pagers, PDA’s and other electronic items. So how do electronic items promote less sleep? Hah, you have got to be kidding me. Innovation always comes with a price and this time technology is causing the world to get less and less sleep as instant communication is now available. A letter that used to take a day now can be beamed through cyberspace in seconds. Now you have that new project at 8:30 pm at night and you are up until 12:30 am working on it. Then you get up the next morning at 6:20 am and you got less than 6 hours of sleep.

Now one night is not going to be a problem, but the when it does start is day after day after day. Remember when you were in first grade – Did you use an alarm clock? Thought so, I sure didn’t, and quite frankly it was simply because I did not need it. I went to bed early enough that I could get up the next morning at 6:30 – no problems.

Deal with it? Or Change it?

Now, as much as we hate getting up with an alarm clock the world has come to accept the fact that we must use them. But do we really need alarm clock? No, not at all. We just have to start a sleep pattern that will help us get up at the time we need to each morning. Even on the weekends! However, one problem, how many activities go past 9pm? Yeah, tons! That is the problem. The world has become so busy that events must start so late because people work to long, which just pulls us into a vicious cycle to use our alarm clock. So I guess its time to suck it up and listen to that horrible sound.

 

There've been 7 whole comments

8:34 pm on 4/14/2006 1. nik

Interesting piece, but I have to disagree with one part: you say that “when you were in first grade … it was simply because I did not need [the alarm clock] … I went to bed early enough that I could get up the next morning at 6:30 – no problems”. Well, the fact that you could go to bed earlier and get more sleep may be part of it, but research has shown that people actually have different levels of melatonin, a sleep-promoting hormone, in their system at different times, depending on age. For instance, younger and older folks have surges in melatonin earlier in the evening, and then it also drops back down earlier in the morning. This translates into earlier bed and waking times. In teens, the opposite is true, so we tend to go to sleep later — and, coincidentally, we get less sleep in a system that bases its schedule on agriculture.

So, does it follow to have an asinine system in which, despite biological evidence for the opposite, high-schoolers get up earlier than those in elemantary school? No, of course not. Yet, do to an amazing resistance to change, we do it anyway.

2:15 pm on 4/15/2006 2. Neil

Wow, thanks for the interesting piece of the sleep research. Now I finally know why I got up so early. But I do notice this in my brothers and sisters – once they reach middle school – all of a sudden they are tired.

11:23 pm on 4/15/2006 3. Don

However, one problem, how many activities go past 9pm? Yeah, tons! That is the problem. The world has become so busy that events must start so late because people work to long, which just pulls us into a vicious cycle…

The inevitability of sleep deprivation has been marked since man discovered fire. I used to abhor alarm clocks and those that used it. But when I realized that I was missing too much by sleeping at 10pm or even earlier, I eventually understood the need for the buzzing friend.

Life will eventually slow down and you will enjoy your sleep more. But that’s when you’ve enjoyed two-thirds of your life doing the things that you’ve wanted too do. That’s the whole point of retirement. :)

9:39 am on 4/16/2006 4. Amy

“So, does it follow to have an asinine system in which, despite biological evidence for the opposite, high-schoolers get up earlier than those in elemantary school? No, of course not. Yet, do to an amazing resistance to change, we do it anyway.”

I don’t think we get up earlier because we’re resistant to change, I think that we just have no say in the matter. Classes in my elementary school commenced at 9:30-ish am as compared to my Period 1 class which starts at 8:30 am. It also takes me much longer to get to my high school than it did to my elementary school, and sometimes I have to wake up even earlier to complete homework or go to club meetings. As kids, we had much less to do, and consequently could sleep in. Now, as teenagers, were loaded with endless amounts of homework and are consumed by extracurricular activities which don’t leave us much time for sleeping.

11:09 am on 4/19/2006 5. Chresten

Thanks for the news on sleeping and schools. Today I´m 30, but being 18 and having to wake up at 7.30 (Gymnasium = high school in Denmark) began at 7.45, I set my clock for 5.30! Then I snoozed for two hours. I both hated and loved it. Hated because I never really got any rel sleep for those two hours. Loved it, because every morning I felt like “Yes, I can keep on sleeping in my beloved bed” 13 times every morning…

4:53 pm on 4/19/2006 6. Greg

Amy: seems like you’re complaining about extracurricular activities ? Haha, I hate sound like an old bat, but wait until you actually *can’t* do these anymore ;)

Neil:

However, one problem, how many activities go past 9pm? Yeah, tons! That is the problem. The world has become so busy that events must start so late because people work to long, which just pulls us into a vicious cycle to use our alarm clock. So I guess its time to suck it up and listen to that horrible sound.

Err, well, how about, instead, starting to work less? Or at least being less alienated by it? :)

10:48 am on 5/21/2006 7. Hello

i totally agreee with this blog with my personal experience i hit the snooze button at least 3 times every morning. i always say i need to get more sleep but in the end i go to sleep late and wake up still dead tired. this has opened my eyes