The art of the snooze

I’m a rare breed. I consider myself a morning person, but I have a really hard time waking up in the morning. Maybe I’m not a morning person after all.

I had a weird oddity when I was growing up, and I think it lasted even through high school. No alarm, no matter how loud, could wake me up for school. If, however, my dad opened my bedroom door to say “Wake up,” the sound of the door opening got me awake immediately.

I don’t really know what happened in college, as I mostly slept in (also managed, for most of my four years, to schedule my classes to be late and not on Fridays). After college, I tried having two alarms—one to get me out of deep sleep, and one to finally get me up. This strategy worked most of the time, but sometimes I’d turn off even the second alarm and then end up sleeping in too late (and miss whatever appointment I had or be late for my job). So I finally moved to my current system of having an extremely loud alarm… in the next room, so I have to physically get out of bed and walk over to the next room to turn it off. The idea is that by the time I’d woken up my muscles enough to turn off the alarm, I wouldn’t be tempted to go back to bed. Of course, I am still tempted—the temptation is just not as strong, especially with the cat meowing to get his breakfast (bless his heart).

My wife, I have to say, is the queen of the art of snoozing. I don’t know how she does it. She has one alarm and will sometimes hit snooze four or five times in the morning and still somehow manage to get up. There are even days when she hits snooze so many times that she doesn’t have to turn the alarm off completely, and the alarm will go off again in the evening (this is one of those old-timey clocks that doesn’t have AM and PM on it).

Maybe some day I’ll be as good as her. Then again, she somehow manages to get those start-at-9-but-really-you-can-stroll-in-at-9:30-and-that’s-okay jobs, while I somehow end up at those start-at-8-but-really-you’re-supposed-to-be-here-before-8 jobs. The art of the snooze eludes me. Maybe when I’m retired I’ll give it a shot.

63 replies on “The art of the snooze”

Two alarms.. set off a minute apart.. I hate mornings.

However gonna try your “put Alarm in next room” trick


When I buy an alarm clock, I buy the one with the most annoying-sounding alarm I can find. I also find that every couple of years I’ve gotten used to the last annoying alarm, and have to buy a new one with a new annoying sound.

If outlasting the snooze alarm is your problem, consider this item, a somewhat whimsical product of the MIT Media Lab: It’s a no-frills alarm mounted on a motorized chassis with big wheels. When you hit the snooze button, it rolls away and keeps on rolling until it hits an obstacle–under the bed, behind a door, etc. So every time it goes off after the first time, you have to get up and go find it to hit the snooze button again. Clever.


Wow, you might be the only other person I’ve ever heard of who has the door thing. I’m the same way.
The only good thing about that is usually I’ll hear my roommates leaving in the morning (slamming the front door and whatnot) so that will at least wake me up. Still, motivation is really the problem for me.

If you dont go to the toilet before you go to bed… you’re pretty desperate to get to the toilet after your first alarm in the morning… then its pretty much a done deal.. you’re awake – and you already have half the morning routine out the way :)

For years I’ve tried to get up at 5am. This year I’ve been getting up before my “dead zone” time. If I get up at 4am I am not groggy. If I try to get up between 4:30 and 8 I feel totally trashed. It is weird, but for me getting up even earlier has worked.

My usual routine: Breakfast, Lady Grey Tea, read, write, run (at 5:30 – it energizes me for the day), shower, wake up my wife, sit and talk before I head to work at 7:15.

I HATE mornings.
I use 2 alarms and clock radio.
First alarm goes off very early, at least an hour before I need to get up. The radio turns on shortly after that (keeps me awake enough to appreciate ‘sleeping in’). Then second alarm goes when its time to get out of bed, by which time, hopefully, I’m awake enough to do so.

I am up to 3 alarm clocks 1 cell phone alarm, and I use for wake up calls that I schedule 10 minutes apart and I have 2 phones beside me. This has been working for about a month and I have only slept late twice. Prior to using for the wake up calls I just had the alarms and the cell and I slept late pretty much every other day. Somehow I turn the clocks off instead of hitting snooze and have no memory of it. This always leads to the panicked wake up of you know where am I what day is it haha. I was urged by my wife to see a doctor about this and it ends up that I have a severe case of sleep apnea, I actually stop breathing in my sleep 161 times an hour. So that explained alot but even after treatment I still can’t wake up and I have been told it sounds like a concert or something in my house with all the alarms and phones ringing.

Wow. Are you my clone or evil twin? In high school, my dad had to wake me up every day, sometimes with repeat trips as I could not be trusted with an alarm. In college, I aimed for late classes, had very poor attendance (but thankfully excellent grades) for any morning classes. In the “real world” I tried two alarms but often was late for work (almost got fired). My fiancee is a snoozer, and she too has a job where she can stroll in a few late, work later to make up for it. Mine requires me to “be at my desk working” @ 8:30, not coming in the door then. I still haven’t found an answer. Tried drinking lots of water before bed…I just get up, take care of things, then crawl back into bed, lol. I’ve tried the “sunlight” alarms, all sorts of noises, etc. I would invest in one of the alarms that hides itself, but then either A) the cats would kill it or B) my fiancee would. I may try the alarm in another room idea, but I am not sure it will help. I will say that the last half of ’07 I was running 2-3 times a week. Waking up was so much easier and I was much more productive throughout the day. I haven’t run in months due to schedule and a cold twice, but I think I will pick back up with it. I would advise you to do the same. I would hop up to the alarm, no issues and was on time or early every day for work. And if you are like I was (and am getting again), a simple program to get you started is the Couch-to-5K from Cool Running, a great free guide and schedule that worked well for me and a buddy of similar shape/condition:

Best of luck!

I travel and every other week flip between east coast and west coast time zones. I live on the West Coast so I have to ‘shift’ to East coast time. I’m a morning person but getting up 3 hours early can sometimes push it. What I’ve found that works is:

– Leave the drapes open so the sun starts to light up the room (seems to help make the wake-up more natural) I do this a lot when I have to travel to Europe too.
– Set 2 alarms. Typically the first is enough but the second one is the – you must get up warning.
– Lay things out so you can be out the door quickly
– Get in naps to catch up (typically on the flights to and from)

The SleepTracker is a watch you wear to bed. It senses your sleep state as you go in and out of REM and at your most naturally awake point in your preset time period it vibrates and/or chimes. I think it had a snooze which would wake try again during your next near-awake state. Our sleep cycles tended to be eithier 8 or 20 minutes apart. The result is that you’re never brought out of a deep sleep by a harsh alarm but kinda “nudged” when you’re almost awake anyway. This combined with an alarm clock is a great way to ween yourself into the day.

Definitely worth trying – we only returned it (no-hassle return if not satisfied) because the gain wans’t worth the price, as we had no problem getting up, just problems being happy about getting up (which it promised to fix) and we needed the money more at the time. Do try!

I have the same problem. Here are two things that help me:

I remind myself before I go to bed what time I must absolutely get up (doesn’t always have much to do with the time I set on the alarm). That way, there’s no guilt over the snooze. I learned this by accident after realizing I never had trouble getting out of bed if I had an early plane to catch.

Put a timer on a low-level light (but brighter than a night light), so that it comes on about an hour before you want to get up. I also have another timer on a regular lamp that goes off at about the time I usually set the alarm. Then I turn on more lights when the alarm first goes off.

The snooze button is a terrible contraption that calls for a class-action lawsuit against its inventor. It dramatically lowers sleep quality after the first alarm has gone off and while snoozing, and it pisses the hell off everyone within hearing range.
If you know you can snooze until 9 AM instead of getting up at 8 AM, set your alarm clock for 9 AM. People who snooze are idiots.

Three to four separate alarms? I really thought that I had it bad, but most of the time I’m able to rock and roll after 2 – 3 snoozes.

My problem comes into play when I deviate from my normal nighttime routine. This occurs by either staying up later than usual or sometimes by imbibing things that night-me appreciates, but morning-me regrets.

I 100% agree w/ the above comment about leaving the drapes open for a sunny wake-up. I even go so far as to seek sleeping quarters w/ an E-SE exposure to enhance this effect. There is something about waking up at 7:30am w/ the sun warming your face.

Used to sleep outdoors consistently ( long story ) and would, without fail, wake-up early w/ the sun feeling clear-headed, ready to go, and enthused. I often miss those simple times.


One alarm. No back-ups. The idea of the back-up gives you a false sense of security. One alarm … no second chances.

As you mentioned my alarm is not within reach of the bed … so I have to get up to turn it off.


Normal nighttime routine? I wish I had one. One day I’m asleep by 1am (such as last night) and another I’m up till 5. I’ve been this way since middle school, I guess.

For me, it’s the mentality of getting out of bed that’s the difficulty- Actually waking me up isn’t so hard (after the first four or five hours of sleep that is, my wife claims it’s impossible before that). Thinking of the penalties of missing work strangely isn’t even a motivator, usually. I’m completely apathetic for the first hour or so of the day. Wish it weren’t so.

The hardest time of all to wake up is the changeover from weekend to weekday. I still stay up all hours on weekends, even moreso than on weekdays. Wish I knew a better trick, but for now I’m sticking with a sleeping pill or two on Sunday nights around 10pm.

Refreshing to read several of the readers’ comments here, and I’ll try and take some of it into account – I already set a reg-ass alarm clock and a secondary one on my phone, though sometimes I manage to ignore them both for several minutes… will have to look into the next-room alarm trick!

Try looking up “sleep cycles”. I cycle through deep and light sleep in 1 1/2hr intervals, so I time my AMOUNT OF SLEEP to either 1.5, 3, 4.5, 6, 7.5 or 9 hrs. I can wake up without feeling groggy because my body is naturally at the lightest part of my sleep cycle after that much sleep.

How strange is it that I was just talking about this very topic last night with one of my friends! I use my cellphone as my alarm clock. My cellphone has three alarms, a five minute snooze, and each alarm can be snoozed 4 times before the alarm turns itself off. I’ve set up the alarms to go off at 6:00, 6:20 and 6:40, that way I have an alarm going off every five minutes for 55 minutes. I’ve found that it wakes me up slowly over the course of an hour so I don’t have the usual “morning shock” of a single, loud, annoying alarm.

I use the vibrate on my cellphone, but I keep the phone on my desk rather than by the bed. When it starts buzzing in the changer, it’s light enough that my husband is not bothered, but I am instantly awake and I have to get up to make it stop. I can choose a snooze, but I’m already having a heart attack from the shock of waking up so I immediately take a shower. I used to shower at various times, when I felt like it, but showering in the morning really helps the wake-up.

I always had a difficult time waking up, to put it mildly. It’s not that I didn’t want to get up, but I simple didn’t hear my alarms in the morning, usually intertwining them into my dreams (sirens, etc).

A few years ago I went to a sleep center and was diagnosed with mild sleep apnea. I got treatment, which is a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) mask I wear every night. I feel like darth vader.

It took quite a while to get used to, but a few years later, and I swear by it! It’s totally changed my life! I now get quality sleep, something I never knew the rest of my life. It’s not he hours… it’s decent sleep. I can get 4 hours with my CPAP and I’m way more recharged then 10 without.

Now when the alarm goes off, I atleast hear it… and usually jump out of bed to boot! There are days I play the snooze game, but atleast now I’m somewhat conscious about doing it.

My suggestion: Dead tired? Go to a sleep clinic and get checked out! Talk to anyone who sleeps with a CPAP and they’ll tell you it’s increased their quality of life many times over!

Those who simply state that you should set your alarm for 9 and get up then, instead of 8 with snooze for an hour, don’t apparently have any problem waking up and should just shut up.

The point isn’t the time the alarm is set for not being the same as the time you need to actually get up. For many, the problem is that sleep is so deep you need a continued prodding over a period of time to fully come out of sleep. This is the case for me.

In my case, I use 1 alarm – my cell phone. My phone allows up to 5 alarm times to be set, and I set all of them. Its snooze is 5 minutes, so I calculate that into the time I set each alarm, so the alarms start off far apart, and get increasingly close together as the snoozes kick in.

I also built a custom ringtone for the alarm that sounds like a fire alarm going off, with dissonant reverbs, etc, and maximum volume. It was quite popular on a ringtone site for a while as the phone I have normally has apathetically volumed ringers.

I do manage to not turn off the alarms – I’ve learned better than that. I no longer “reset” the alarms for a later time. Instead, I just hunt down the cell phone wherever I hid it the night before, place it on the nightstand, and proceed to hit snooze for however long it takes.

Typically, my snoozing will last anywhere from a MINIMUM of 20 minutes up to 1 1/2 hours. In worst case scenarios, on really bad days, I’ve slept for 3 or more hours hitting snooze every couple of minutes. After times like this I’ll wake up with a splitting headache, but I can’t manage to prevent it because I don’t realize how much time is passing while I’m hitting snooze every couple of minutes.

I have also tried the “set the coffee pot to make coffee” bit, thinking having it ready for me would help me wake up. Nope, I just end up with cold coffee.

Waking up efficiently in the morning is basically a matter of conditioning yourself. I’ve trained myself (in very small steps) to get up when the alarm goes off, no matter when – on most days I wake up around 6AM.

I’ve perfected my morning routine to kickstart my day (shower, breakfast, 10 minutes of nothing), and so I feel motivated to get out of bed – I have something to do that will make me feel good!

My tips (one must become accustomed to these habits very gradually – otherwise it will be hard, ineffective, and you’ll get sick of it quite soon):

1. NEVER use the snooze button! This is nothing but a vortex into a world of sleeping in. You know you don’t really need those extra 10 minutes.
2. Get up early, even on weekends. Keep your bioclock on a regular schedule. Your body will get used to turning up the energy at the time it expects to awaken.
3. Morning routine – I start every day with a shower, breakfast, and at least 10 minutes of just doing whatever I feel. I am able to get out the door within 4 minutes of waking if I really need to, but the new way leaves me bounding with energy throughout the day, and makes it an absolute pleasure to get up in the morning.
5. Natural sunlight is the most pleasant (and natural!) way to wake up. Try leaving the windows a touch open, or using one of those sun clocks for odd hours.


I had no idea my little post about trying to wake up would provoke such a response. Apparently, this is a huge issue, and I’m glad people can relate to me on this.

I must be the “evil twin” for many folks.

Thanks for sharing your stories, everybody!

I bought a Lumie Bodyclock – a daylight alarm clock that floods the room with increasing light. It wakes me up gently and completely, and even better – my wife sleeps through it, so we both win. Oh – and stopping drinking might have had something to do with it, too.

I have 5 alarms (2 from my clock and 3 from my phone) and I STILL have trouble getting to school on time. Maybe it’s because I’m a second term senior and I don’t have the motivation to go to class on time. So far I have been late to my first period class EVERY day of the term…lol I’m sort of proud of that accomplishment ;)


I’m the same, real trouble getting up most days, and then would fall asleep during the day given a slight chance.

I ended up having a session in a sleep lab which was very interesting as it highlighted a couple of problems, although very interesting as I learnt a lot about sleep. I’m taking some mediction now which helps during the day!!

Anyway provided that you are having a reasonable amount of sleep, and that it is good quality, then it’s best to try and get up when you wake naturally. This occurs between the dream phases that should be dominating the later phases of sleep.

An alarm clock going off in a deeper sleep phase is just going to have you feel groggy.

I’m not really a morning person however…KIDS….KIDS is what wakes me up in the morning. That and…..wait for it….here it comes….my….bladder. It is like an alarm. Like clockwork every morning…5:19 on the dot…if i don’t get up and pee I will wet the bed! Maybe that came with the having of the kids and the weakening of the bladder, I don’t know…but…guys…maybe actually having the baby would give you that wonderful biological alarm clock called “the bladder.”

Sharper Image “Sonic Boom” vibrating alarm clock. Not only do I get woken up by an outrageously loud alarm, but my pillow vibrates as well. I can sleep through just about anything a college dorm can dish out, but not this alarm.

Just don’t look at what time it is when you wake up.. and start getting ready for the day.. it’s kind of a naive approach to the day.. but i think it would condition your biological clock.. it was suggested to me by a friend.. but i always accidentally look at the time. hah

The snooze button is truly my favorite invention ever. Maybe it’s the magic of nine minutes flying by or knowing it’s something a girl can count on in this world? Regardless, I can’t imagine waking up without it!

Thanks for the post!

I use the axbo alarm clock on its about 300 us dollars but i have a job that i cant be late for so it is well spent. when it monitors your sleep pattern it will eventually cause you to wake up seconds before your alarm clock. and you will feel more refreshed and not tired…i challeng u all to try it

I use a combination of an alarm clock, my iPhone, direct sunlight and a Rubik’s Cube.

When the alarm clock goes off, I open the blinds behind me and hit snooze. 20 minutes later my iPhone ringtone goes off, which cues me to solve my Rubik’s Cube. The direct sunlight and the thought process behind the Rubik’s Cube is enough to keep me awake for good.

Well i have a very very hard problem waking up even at 8! im homeschooled, and no matter where i put my alarm in my room, by the 3rd or 4th day i will turn it off somehow without ever even waking up! even if i have to get outa bed! on the other side of the bed on the floor didnt even work, well once, but that was because i rolled off my bed and hit the floor with a very hard thud that hurt!

But i have found a new way that seems to be working!
1: get some PC speakers and a sub!
2: place speakers in front of head!
3: place sub under head on the floor!
4: plug into laptop or computer!
5: find the free alarm program on google!
6: set it for the time you wish!
7: choose a very loud and up beat song for the sound!
8: change the song every day night before you go to bed!
9: turn everything all the way up and then sub all the way down!
10: wake up the next morning to a nice vibe’n and thud’n!

So far this has worked 5 days for me!

See if it works for you!

You’ve probably heard of the circadian rhythm – our bodies, through years of evolution, are programmed to be awake in the light part of the day, and asleep when it’s dark.

Circadian rhythm can be thought of as a sine wave that rises in the morning, peaks at say 10pm then does down over night. There are various hormones release at different stages in the circadian cycle that make you feel awake or tired.

There’s another rhythm too, the Ultradian, that oscillates around the circadian. It’s a sine wave too, but is more frequent, repeating every 1.5 or so hours.

After being told about this, i have actually noticed that my energy levels go up and down with this kind of frequency. Also… when you’re trying to go to sleep at night, ever notice that sometimes you’re straight to sleep, other times it takes ages?

The idea is to “ride the wave”. When you start to feel tired, go to bed before you start to feel awake again. I haven’t worked out a way to effectively do this in the morning though.

That Sleeptracker watch is meant to do it – somehow (i think through sensing movement) it works out the optimum time for you to wake up.

I thought it was interesting anyways.

First off I have to say people here have the longest comments I have seen so far on any blog I read. I say it is a compliment. Nehoo I myself excel in the art of snoozing(sadly). I snooze me alarm so many times I think it finally gives up and I end up oversleeping. Hmmm I wonder if a cat is more persistent ?

I have that ability to hear a door opening and not an alarm clock too, even if it’s loud! I always subconsciously turn it off.

Multiple alarms on my blackberry work pretty well. I installed a program called MyAlarm that allows you to set 6 alarms for any amount of time. I think I might buy one of those alarm clocks at ThinkGeek too. The one that has wheels and takes off until you run across the house to turn it off…

I have 4 very loud alarm clocks each set 2 minutes apart, and spread all over my room. Trust me, after crawling under your bed getting onto a stool to reach the one on th curtain box and turn off the bloody things, sleep will have vacated without notice. Works all the time. Leaves me ridiculously cranky though!

I use a system akin to the “Swan” station on the television show “Lost.”

If I don’t enter a randomly generated CAPTCHA into my computer, within five minutes of my alarm going off, a program will upload naked photos I took of myself, cavorting in a bathtub full of linguine, to

Humiliation is a powerful motivator.

The hard part of the setup wasn’t connecting the alarm clock to the computer. Nor was it writing the program to do the upload. The real bitch was getting all of the linguine out of the bathtub.

Now, while this method works for me, I don’t think I can recommend it for everyone. With today’s food prices skyrocketting, it would probably cost too much to buy all of that linguine…

a cell phone alarm plus husband, and now that it’s summer here in the Philippines – plus son who wakes you up to say that it’s time to exercise.

it’s a struggle to wake up early, that is.

With so many people having difficulty getting up early (myself included) perhaps that’s an indication that we are:

a) overworked and underslept
b) still forced to get up early b/c of social expectations even tho some human’s aren’t biologically inclined to it
c) both

I can’t wait for the day our society starts running more efficiently and sees that individuals work in different ways.

Maybe then I won’t feel like my brain is dripping from exhaustion. :P

Just have a kid or two, that’ll solve the problem. Our first was pretty quiet but once the second came around there’s no sleeping past 7:30 anymore! :c)

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