To sleep: perchance to dream

It’s funny, I’d jotted down a note to write about sleep earlier today then suddenly came across an article in Psychology Today, Stirring Sound of Stress:

Ever wake up five minutes before your alarm rings? This mysterious phenomenon isn’t just bizarre coincidence. We are all equipped with our own internal alarm clocks and, best of all, they even have snooze buttons.

But how can we set our own wake up calls? “I am convinced that eventually there will be a psychological technique to strengthen the ability to set the internal alarm clock,” Born says. Cognitive self-instruction, in which a person drills himself in his plans for the next day, may wind the alarm, he says. For now, however, hang on to that little dream machine beside your bed.

I’ve always done this; just before dropping off to sleep I’ll decide what time I want to wake and bingo, I wake at that time, no matter how late I get to bed.

And I wondered, does anyone else do this?

19 Responses to “To sleep: perchance to dream”

  1. em
    November 30th, 2005 02:20

    I do! it’s one of my super powers! along with finding a good parking spot…and folding laundry. ;-)

  2. Jane
    November 30th, 2005 03:31

    I do the same thing. I haven’t used an alarm clock in years.

  3. toni
    November 30th, 2005 04:23

    I do it all the time. I’ll set the alarm as a back-up, but I almost never need it. (Exceptions seem to occur more frequently when I’m sick.)

  4. Allan
    November 30th, 2005 08:13

    I do it all the time.

  5. daisy
    November 30th, 2005 09:26

    Am I misreading the article then? It seems that the practice is far more widespread than the German researchers believe. Ah well, it’s nice to know I’m in such good company :-)

  6. EmĀ³
    November 30th, 2005 10:26

    I tend to wake up an hour after the alarms, having either slept right through them or switched them off without waking.

    This just means I have to set my alarms an hour before I need to get up …

  7. Cindy
    November 30th, 2005 16:45

    I’ve managed to wake 5 minutes before the alarm many times and always found it amusing.

  8. Kimberly
    November 30th, 2005 17:20

    I can do this too, but I only do it for naps because usually I don’t sleep as deeply when I do.

    There was an interesting askmetafilter thread about this very subject:


  9. Richard
    November 30th, 2005 18:38

    If I tell myself I must wake up at a certain time in the morning, I find that I can’t sleep properly. I get a really restless night and then finally fall properly asleep in the wee hours, only to be woken shortly later by the alarm.

    So your method does not work for me. The only way I can wake up at a desired time without completely wrecking my sleep patterns is through long term conditioning.

  10. Mary
    November 30th, 2005 19:43

    I do that. Makes me feel connected to you all knowing we all come from the same super power race or alien drop-off.

  11. alala
    November 30th, 2005 20:28

    Ooo, I wish I could do that! I can turn off the alarm without waking up at all, but that’s not a very useful superpower. I’d rather have yours.

  12. Clair
    November 30th, 2005 22:59

    I usually wake up before my alarm, unless I forget to set the alarm. In which case I don’t wake up at all. Poot.

  13. Karen
    December 1st, 2005 04:06


  14. pam
    December 1st, 2005 07:35

    I can, but I sort of prefer the clock radio so I don’t bother. But I always do it for naps, like Kimberly. If I don’t, I wind up taking too-long naps and it throws me off the rest of the day.

  15. Croila
    December 1st, 2005 09:44

    I always seem to wake up five minutes before the alarm (or, rather, the mobile phone!) goes off, no matter what time I set it for. When I was a kid someone told me that if you wanted to wake up at, say, 7 am, you banged your head seven times on the pillow and said “seven o’clock” seven times. Bizarrely it seemed to work. Although what you’d do if you needed to wake up at 7.45 I’m not quite sure!

  16. Katherine
    December 1st, 2005 14:08

    I used to, but then I started working shifts in hotels and lost the ability. I never even used an alarm clock until then.

  17. stroppycow
    December 1st, 2005 14:49

    I never do though if my living alarm clock is away I tend to wake up every hour in a panic thinking I missed the alarm.

  18. daisy
    December 1st, 2005 17:48

    Kimberly, thank you for that metafilter thread, don’t know how I missed that one!

    alala, welcome! I’m just chuckling at the alarm clock note on your profile page :-)

  19. Nancy
    December 2nd, 2005 18:18

    I wake up before my alarm goes off IF I’m getting up at the same time as usual and my sleep hasn’t been significantly interrupted. A 5:00 a.m. visit to a howling toddler can seriously screw up my internal 6:30 a.m. alarm.

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