How to Wake Up Without an Alarm Clock

Three Parts:Learning Your Circadian RhythmsWeaning Off Your Alarm ClockWaking Up Naturally

Like most people, you probably rely on a noisy alarm clock to wake up in the morning. However, your body already contains a system of biological clocks to help you wake up without the assistance of a piece of machinery. Using your circadian rhythms -- and adapting your sleep schedule to their tempo -- will help you get a better sleep and improve your overall health.

Part 1
Learning Your Circadian Rhythms

  1. Image titled Wake Up Without an Alarm Clock Step 1
    Define your current sleep pattern. Your circadian rhythms are 24 hour cycles that influence your physical and mental behaviors. In addition to controlling your natural sleep cycle, they also influence your body's hormone production, body temperature and feelings of hunger. When you wake up feeling groggy in the morning or when you wake up in the middle of the night, you have most likely disrupted your natural circadian rhythm.[1]
    • The different, interacting circadian rhythms in your body are ultimately all controlled by a "master clock" know as the the suprachiasmatic nucleus; is located in the hypothalamus of the brain.
  2. Image titled Wake Up Without an Alarm Clock Step 2
    Keep a sleep diary. Before you abandon your alarm clock, you need to fully understand your current sleep patterns. For at least one week, note the time when you go to sleep and the time when you wake up. Studies have shown that, as the work week progresses, many people will go to sleep at a later hour while still having to wake up at the same time, resulting in a chronic loss of sleep. You should aim to correct this naturally by always going to sleep and waking up at the same time.
    • Disruptions in circadian rhythms occur when your biological clock does not align with your social clock; sleep specialists have called this phenomenon social jet lag. It can lead to serious health problems such as obesity and inflammatory diseases.[2]
    • The CDC recommends that adults receive 7-8 hours of sleep each night and teens receive 9-10 hours of sleep.[3]
  3. Image titled Wake Up Without an Alarm Clock Step 3
    Spend time outside. Your circadian rhythms are partly determined by your exposure to light and darkness. If you leave for work very early in the morning before sunrise and don't see the sun again for the rest of the day, this might be disrupting your body's natural tempo for sleep.
    • If your work schedule forces you to leave for work and return home in the dark, try to take a brief walk outside during the day so you can be exposed to daylight.[4]
    • If you cannot take a walk during work, try to work near a bright window, or spend your breaks by a window so you can get exposure to daylight.

Part 2
Weaning Off Your Alarm Clock

  1. Image titled Wake Up Without an Alarm Clock Step 4
    Practice on weekends and holidays. If you have a strict work schedule, you might not want to risk suddenly waking up without any assistance, especially if you are not getting the recommended 7-10 hours of sleep a night. Instead, try waking up without an alarm clock on the weekends.
    • You might have to sacrifice sleeping in later on the weekends. If you have an extended period of time off for a vacation or a holiday, this is also an ideal time to adjust to life without an alarm clock.
  2. Image titled Wake Up Without an Alarm Clock Step 5
    Switch to a softer alarm sound. You might currently wake up with a loud, clanging alarm that sounds like a jarring buzzer. Instead, consider an alarm that sounds more natural, such as the sounds of a forest or a rainstorm. If you live on a busy street, you might also want to find an alarm that mimics the sounds of the environment around you, like passing traffic.
  3. Image titled Wake Up Without an Alarm Clock Step 6
    Use an alarm clock as opposed to your mobile phone for your alarm. By looking at your phone's screen just before you got to sleep, you are delaying your body's release of melatonin, a hormone necessary for keeping your circadian rhythms on schedule.
    • Put any phones or tablets away and keep them out of reach should you wake up in the middle of the night.[5]
    • If you have to rely on your phone or tablet for your alarm, set the alarm a few hours before your bedtime so you are not tempted to look at the screen in bed.
  4. Image titled Wake Up Without an Alarm Clock Step 7
    Abandon the snooze button. If you currently are using the snooze button when you wake up, you should stop. When you use the snooze button to continually stop and start your sleep cycle, you are fragmenting your circadian rhythms.
    • When your sleep cycle is frequently disrupted, this creates a condition called sleep inertia. Sleep inertia can have very negative effects on the body and leave you at risk for developing conditions like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.[6]

Part 3
Waking Up Naturally

  1. Image titled Wake Up Without an Alarm Clock Step 8
    Prepare your sleeping environment. Once you have practiced waking up without an alarm clock and after you have set an established sleep pattern, you can try waking up without an alarm on a more regular basis. Arranging your bedroom to work with your circadian rhythms is a key step in this process. You should keep your curtains slightly open so your body will adjust to the light of morning; avoid using black out curtains.
    • Remember that the sun rises in the east; in the northern hemisphere, a south-facing orientation will receive more sunlight, and in the southern hemisphere a north-facing orientation will get more, but unless you are trying to wake up when the sun is high in the sky, you will still want to face to the east to catch the sun when it rises.
    • If you need to get up before the sun rises, putting the lights in your room on a timer can also help, as this may not seem as disruptive as an alarm clock.
  2. Image titled Wake Up Without an Alarm Clock Step 9
    Open your room to sounds. If you have been using a white noise machine to block out the sounds of trains or street traffic, then you should stop using this (or use one that has a timer, so it stops before morning). If the weather permits, keep your window slightly open so you will hear sounds in the morning that will help wake you up.
  3. Image titled Wake Up Without an Alarm Clock Step 10
    Maintain an exercise schedule. Multiple studies have show that regular exercise can improve the quality of your sleep, especially for people struggling with insomnia or other sleep disorders. You should aim for 30-40 minutes of aerobic exercise, 3-4 times per week.[7]
    • Aerobic exercise includes activities such as going for a walk, a hike, running, swimming or playing a game of soccer or basketball.
  4. Image titled Wake Up Without an Alarm Clock Step 11
    Nourish your body with healthy food. Avoid foods that are high in sugar, fat, and highly processed grains. Instead, consume a diet primarily made of lean proteins, vegetables, fruit, whole grains and minimal fat. Eating a heavy, rich meal close to bedtime might also disrupt your sleep because it will take more energy to digest.
    • Consider consuming foods rich in tryptophan, like milk, eggs, bananas or nuts. Tryptophan has been shown to help induce sleep.[8]
  5. Image titled Wake Up Without an Alarm Clock Step 12
    Beware of caffeine, even in unlikely sources. You probably already know that drinking a large cup of coffee before bedtime will likely lead to delayed and disrupted sleep. But many over-the-counter medications such as pain relievers and cold medicines also contain caffeine. Make sure to check the ingredients in your medicine before you take them when you go to sleep.[9]
  6. Image titled Wake Up Without an Alarm Clock Step 13
    Create peaceful and comfortable sleeping conditions. If you are struggling with stress or anxiety, consider taking a few minutes to meditate to clear your mind for sleep. You might consider playing some soft, relaxing music while you practice guided breathing to lull you into sleep. You can learn more at our guide to meditating for sleep here:[1]
    • Maintain a comfortable temperature while you sleep. You might be tempted to pile on many blankets during the winter, or blast the air conditioning in the dead of summer, but consider at which temperature you normally fall asleep. If you turn your heat down at night and have a timer on your thermostat, you can set the heat to come back on about an hour before you want to wake up. Assuming you were at a comfortable sleeping temperature all night, this should prompt you to awaken. You can also use temperature in conjunction with light, since sunlight hitting your bed directly will warm you up.


  • Start off using your alarm clock one day, then skipping it the next. If not using your alarm clock worries you, simply set it for a few minutes after you want to wake up, as a safety net.
  • Let the sun shine through your curtains.


  • If you work "nonstandard" hours, your sleep–wake cycle is likely somewhat confused already. You can use these techniques to help settle your body into a better sleep rhythm, but this may take significant time. If you frequently have to work different shifts, these techniques will be especially difficult to use.
  • Avoid taking naps. Napping can mess up the circadian rhythms set by a regular sleep schedule. They can make it harder to fall asleep at the planned time. If you do need to nap, try to keep it under 30 minutes. If you are napping every day, then make this part of your regular schedule and take the same length nap at the same time each day

Article Info

Featured Article

Categories: Featured Articles | Improving Waking Up