Posted by: Kate | January 7, 2009

Be Not Alarmed

I despise alarm clocks.

I’m a big fan of sleep, to begin with. Love the process of falling asleep, love being there, love knowing I get to do it all over again the next night. It has been established that I don’t nap well, or rather that I don’t recover well after a nap, but still, me and sleep, we get along just fine.

I’m less a fan of waking up, but if I wake up simply because I was done sleeping and ready to be vertical again, then I bear consciousness no grudge. I also don’t mind being roused by another person, whether in the form of a hungry newborn or a snuggly toddler or a snoring husband; I might not prefer to be awake at that moment, but I don’t feel annoyed by the experience. I don’t even mind the phone waking me, especially because most of the phone calls that happen when I’m sleeping are of the “School Cancellation” variety, which usually translates to extra sleep.

But I hate, hate waking to an alarm clock. It just feels so offensive and wrong, somehow. And just because I’m unemployed doesn’t mean I can unplug my Daily Nagging Device; the rest of my household still needs to be up and out by certain times, and most days I’m not able to sufficiently squash the guilt I feel when Willem gets up and does the whole morning routine himself.

I have to wake up to the radio, not a beeping noise, because my hearing loss is skewed and a bit unpredictable when it comes to certain tones. I am, for instance, able to hear fluorescent lights and older computer monitors, but I am stone deaf to the sound of Willem’s alarm clock. Even if I am wide awake and staring right at it, I don’t know when it’s going off. In high school, I had an alarm whose beeps I could hear, and I soon learned that they were precisely the same frequency as the microwave ovens at Friendly’s; I would go there for an ice cream and end up pissed off even though I was already awake, because the association of that noise was so unpleasant.

The radio is varied enough in pitch that I’m likely to hear it, even though I still have to crank the volume loud enough that Willem can hear it from the kitchen. But I hate cheerful morning DJs, and rural New Hampshire isn’t exactly providing me with a wide array of radio station options, so I run the risk of undesired chatter or songs destined to lodge themselves firmly into the depths of my brain until I finally pound my head on a wall to dislodge them.

And yet, I’ll hit the snooze button two or three times, because apparently one miserable encounter with the alarm is not enough for me.


  1. I hit the snooze for no less than an hour before I actually get out of bed – every 8 minutes for an hour. I have no idea why I torture myself like this. And I have found that the beeping of my regular alarm clock is not enough. I sleep through that. Now I use my cell phone and one of the more annoying little ditties that came with it.

  2. Have you ever tried using something that vibrates to wake you up? I use my cell phone and 9 times out of 10, I wake up with the vibrations before the tone goes off.

  3. For years as a teen and in my 20s, I used an alarm for the deaf–plugging a lamp into the alarm so that it flashed at wakeup time. Totally silent, calm for the nerves, yet very effective at waking me.

    I’m not deaf, but I am such a sound sleeper that I can sleep through any noise, thunder, alarm clock. The flashing light alarm is fabulous and Peaceful!

  4. I use my cell phone alarm now, which is loud and annoying enough to rouse me without being a morning DJ. Back in the days when I had a clock radio, I set it to the static between stations. The white noise was easier for me to hear, and somehow less jarring.

    There are alarm clocks out there that gradually wake you up – they start with a lamp that gradually brightens to mimic the sunrise, then sound that grows in volume. Some even start with aromatherapy to wake you with scents…wonder if they have pancakes and sausage essential oils?

  5. I’ve dessimated no less than 7 travel alarm clocks in the last few years. Mostly because you can air them out and they’ll shut off if they hit something hard enough, be it a wall, TV, garden gnome, or a person in the room. I’ve been sleeping in the car and had one go off only to find itself all alone on the highway. It’s no fun finding all the pieces, or selecting a replacement.

  6. I know you’re not looking for solutions here but I can’t help but think you should consider getting an alarm clock with a CD player… or one of the ones that you have to throw across the room to make it shut up. Not that it would wake you up any easier or more peacefully, but the throwing part, I have to imagine, is quite therapeutic.

  7. I’m with you. It’s been years since I’ve been a slave to the vile thing, but I hated it just as much. It was like getting slapped awake by a bratty demon. And, like you, I set it up so I could hit snooze no fewer than twice.

    The radio alarm was better, but caused me to come to despise quite a few songs I used to like. No good solution outside of creating a puppy alarm clock that sleeps beside your head and miffs and gently licks your nose to wake you up.

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