Need multiple alarms to wake up in the morning? Here’s what could be happening, according to experts | CNN (2024)

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Let’s say you need to wake up by 7 a.m. to get to work on time.

So you set your first smartphone alarm for 6:30 a.m., your second at 6:45 a.m. and your third at 6:55 a.m. to avoid the snooze button. And you throw in 7:05 a.m. just to be cautious.

Does this sound familiar? If you are clogging your clock app with all those morning alarms, you’re setting yourself up for a groggy morning, experts say.

Hitting the snooze button for increments of nine minutes of sleep at a time does the same thing, said Dr. Brandon Peters, a neurologist and sleep medicine physician with Virginia Mason Franciscan Health in Seattle.

“It’s satisfying in the moment to hit the snooze and delay getting out of bed and starting the day, but it does actually fragment and undermine that sleep quality,” Peters said.

For the last hours of sleep, people usually go in and out of the fourth and last stage of the sleep cycle, known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. This stage is particularly important for memory processing and creative thinking, he added. Having that stage of sleep fragmented could impact that brain function.

He recommends setting one alarm, allowing for deep sleep to continue uninterrupted until you need to wake up in the morning.

Here’s how to train your mind and body to get out of bed after that first alarm goes off.

Why do I have trouble getting up in the morning?

Certain sleep disorders could be causing someone to have trouble waking up in the morning to one alarm, such as sleep inertia, which causes a difficult transition out of sleep, said Dr. Cathy Goldstein, a sleep medicine physician at the Michigan Medicine Sleep Disorders Centers. That may result in someone unknowingly turning off and snoozing alarms when first woken up.

Most of the time, however,someone who needs multiple alarms to wake up in the morning is sleep deprived, she said.

First, try to get to any underlying issues that could be causing this problem, Goldstein noted.

Freshly woken up young woman enjoying the morning sun rays. SimpleImages/Moment RF/Getty Images/File Related article Feeling older than you are? It could be how you sleep

“Number one: are you actually getting the sleep you need? Not the amount of sleep you think you should get or that you want to get, but the amount of sleep that you actually need. And are you getting that on a nightly basis?” asked Goldstein, who is also a clinical professor of neurology at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Most adults need aroundseven to nine hoursof sleep a night, but it does take time to figure out how much sleep you need. Goldstein recommends students use summer break to find how many hours of sleep they get naturally after a few weeks. For others, a long vacation could provide some helpful answers.

Another reason someone may battle the alarm clock every morning is that they’re naturally a night owl, but their work schedule calls for an early bird, said Dr. Alicia Roth, a clinician at Cleveland Clinic’s Sleep Disorders Center in Ohio. “In an ideal world, we would go to bed when we’re sleepy, and we would wake up when we wake up. That is not the world we live in.”

Butthere are ways to gradually shift your body clock andmake early mornings easier, she added.

How to wake up to one alarm

If you have to wake up at 7 a.m., and the alarm starts at 6 a.m., you are getting an hour of bad-quality sleep, instead of just sleeping through until 7 a.m, Roth said.

While setting just one alarm is best, it might be hard to wake up to only one after using multiple alarms as your safety net, she added.

Roth recommends testing out different alarm clocks, such as one that utilizes light or an alarm that makes you get out of bed to turn it off. Getting 15 to 30 minutes of sunlight in the morning can also help shift the internal body clock and is particularly important for those who are natural night owls, said Peters, author of the new book “The Sleep Apnea Hypothesis.”

Soft focus of jar with sleeping pills and glass of water placed on bedside table near sleeping female in morning at home. Sergey Mironov/Moment RF/Getty Images Related article Should I take supplements to help me sleep? A doctor explains

It is also important to wake up and go to sleep around the same times each day, Goldstein said. “If you’re somebody who sleeps really well from 3 a.m. to noon, and that’s how you sleep on the weekends, but on Monday morning, you have to wake up at 6 a.m. to commute,” that will be hard, she said. “That’s earlier than your biology is prepared to wake up, and it’s going to be very difficult to get up.”

Goldstein recommends shifting bedtime 30 minutes earlier every few days, or an hour earlier once a week for those looking to change their biological clocks. Avoiding harsh lights and limiting screen time up to four hours before bed can also help promote the body’s natural melatonin production, she added.

If someone finds they have woken up before their alarm goes off, Peters doesn’t recommend checking the time, because doing so could make it difficult to fall back asleep if they start to worry about the sleep time they have left or the day ahead of them.

Instead, Peters recommends trying to fall back asleep until it feels as though 15 to 20 minutes have passed. If you’re still awake, then you can check the time and decide if you want to get up for the day, he added. “If it’s close to your normal wake time, you might start your day a little early. If it’s in the middle of the night, you might go off and do something quiet, like read, and then come back to bed when you’re feeling more drowsy or sleepy.”

A man with insomnia looks at the clock at dawn from the bed with concern. Lifestyle concept Cavan Images/Getty Images/File Related article Why do I wake up at 3 a.m. every night?

While some may be able to naturally wake up without using an alarm, it is not a realistic goal for everyone, particularly those who experience sleep inertia, or have naturally later biological clocks, Goldstein said.

“We never want to sleep shame people,” she said. “In medicine, and in public health we operate on averages a lot of the time, what’s best for the most. But there are these biological differences, and we want to make sure that everybody is optimizing their sleep the best that they can.”

Need multiple alarms to wake up in the morning? Here’s what could be happening, according to experts | CNN (2024)

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