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Do you need multiple alarms to wake you up in the morning? Understand why and see tips

Let’s say you need to wake up at 7am to get to work on time, so you set your first alarm on your phone for 6:30am, your second for 6:45am, and your third for 6:55am to avoid hitting the snooze button. You also set one for 7:05am just to be on the safe side. Sound familiar?

If you’re using your watch app with all those morning alarms, you’re setting yourself up for a groggy morning, experts say. “It’s gratifying in the moment to take a nap and delay getting out of bed and starting the day, but it actually fragments and impairs the quality of your sleep,” said Dr. Brandon Peters neurologist and sleep medicine physician at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health in Seattle, United States.

In the last few hours of sleep, people typically cycle in and out of the fourth and final 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 this stage of sleep fragmented can affect brain function. He recommends setting an alarm, allowing deep sleep to continue uninterrupted until you need to wake up in the morning.

See tips for training your mind and body to get out of bed after the first alarm goes off.

Why do I have trouble waking up in the morning?

Certain sleep disorders may be causing people to have trouble waking up in the morning to an alarm, such as sleep inertia, which causes a difficult transition out of sleep, said Dr. Cathy Goldstein a sleep physician at Michigan Medicine Sleep Disorders Centers. This can cause someone to unknowingly turn off and snooze alarms when they first wake up.

Most of the time, though, 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, noted Goldstein.

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

Most adults need about seven to nine hours of sleep per night, but it takes time to figure out how much sleep you need. Goldstein recommends that students use their vacation to figure out how much sleep they naturally get after a few weeks.

Another reason someone might struggle with waking up every morning is that they are naturally night owls, but their work schedule requires an early riser, said Dr. Alicia Roth a physician at the Cleveland Clinic Sleep Disorders Center in Ohio.

“In an ideal world, we would go to bed when we are sleepy and wake up when we wake up. That’s not the world we live in.”

But there are ways to gradually shift your body clock and make getting up in the morning easier, she added.

How to wake up with an alarm?

If you have to wake up at 7 a.m. and your alarm goes off at 6 a.m., you’ll get an hour of poor-quality sleep, rather than just sleeping until 7 a.m., Roth said.

While it’s best to set just one alarm, it can be difficult to wake up to just one after using multiple alarms as a safety net, he added. To change that, Roth recommends trying different alarm clocks, like one that uses a 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 your internal body clock and is particularly important for those who are natural night owls, Peters said. It’s also important to wake up and go to sleep at the same times every day, Goldstein said.

“If you sleep 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 go to work, that’s going to be difficult,” he said. “This is before your biology is ready to wake up and it will be very difficult to wake up,” he added.

Goldstein recommends moving bedtime 30 minutes earlier every few days or an hour earlier once a week for anyone looking to alter their body clock.

Avoiding bright lights and limiting screen time within four hours of bedtime can also help promote the body’s natural melatonin production, she added.

If someone finds they’ve woken up before their alarm goes off, Peters doesn’t recommend checking the time, because it can make it harder to get back to sleep if they start worrying about how much sleep they have left or what the next day will bring them. Instead, Peters recommends trying to go back to sleep until it feels like 15 to 20 minutes have passed. If you’re still awake, you can check the time and decide whether you want to wake up today, she added.

“If it’s close to your normal wake-up time, you can start your day a little earlier. If it’s the middle of the night, you can go out and do something quiet, like reading, and then go back to bed when you’re feeling more sleepy or drowsy. While some people can wake up naturally without using an alarm, it’s not a realistic goal for everyone, especially those who suffer from sleep inertia or have naturally delayed body clocks,” Goldstein said.

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Source: CNN Brasil

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