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Life without Alarms

June 29, 2019 pm30 2:11 pm
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Thursday morning. Friday morning. Saturday morning. Scores of thousands of New York City teachers have enjoyed them, waking and opening their eyes, without being jolted awake by an alarm.

The only sour note? Knowing that, come September, sleep will again daily crash to a halt with the jarring ring, clang, chirp or loud nuisance song that we set for our alarms.

But does it have to?

(Worst alarm ever?  A very loud mosquito buzz.)

Five years ago, on sabbatical, my early class was 10 AM. There was no need for an alarm. Peace!

(you are generally eligible for a full-year sabbatical in the New York City Department of Education after 14 years of service. They are absolutely wonderful. If you are getting close, start looking into it.)

So I stopped setting an alarm. And something interesting happened. I liked getting up at 6:30. Solving the morning Kenkens. Making coffee. Reading a bit. And know what?  Every morning I got up between 6:10 and 6:40. No alarm. My body did just did it.

Sometimes I needed to wake earlier (for a meeting, or an event, or a morning meet-up for a hike). I experimented. My body got me up at the right time.

Did I make exceptions?  A couple of times, for flights. I might have set 5 alarms all year. And, by the way, I usually woke up before the alarm sounded, and successfully disarmed it.

All good things come to an end, as did my sabbatical. September came, but the alarm stayed off. I was fine.

Now, I can be late places, but that is because I dawdle. I don’t oversleep.

Would this work for you? Maybe, maybe not. I have some advantage (man, of a certain age, I do wake up more frequently than you do). But how can you know for sure, unless you try?

Set yourself a wake-up time. Remind yourself of it before you go to sleep. Don’t set an alarm. And see what happens. Repeat. And repeat. And repeat. Until you trust yourself.

I haven’t routinely set an alarm since June 2013. I can’t tell you how amazing that is.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Arthur Goldstein permalink
    June 29, 2019 pm30 4:09 pm 4:09 pm

    I don’t set an alarm either. I usually wake up very early. If I wake up late, I’m on time.

  2. David-S permalink
    June 30, 2019 am30 11:11 am 11:11 am

    Underslept folk need an alarm. When I worked three jobs, I needed an alarm. I also woke up in the same position I fell asleep in. When that stopped, so dod my need for an alarm.

    • July 2, 2019 pm31 11:16 pm 11:16 pm

      Point well-taken. Not everyone can afford not to set an alarm.

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