Making a fresh start (and ditching my alarm clock).


I know I shouldn’t sleep with my iPhone, but when our alarm clock started misbehaving back around Christmastime, I started doing it anyway. I only needed its alarm, but of course—of course—that’s a slippery slope. When it’s easy to check twitter last thing at night or first thing in the morning, that’s what I do.

When we moved a few weeks ago I was forced to think about the routine I’d fallen into, and what I wanted to do about my alarm clock.

I’ve had thirty-something years to assess my bad habits (or tendencies that direction) and know what I do when I’m stressed: I stay up too late, have to wake up early anyway, get really tired, and then I get sick.

I have enough going on without being sick, so I made a plan to make sure I get enough sleep. Or rather, to make sure I get to bed on time.

I started leaving my phone in the kitchen at night.

But I didn’t replace the alarm clock.

Without the alarm clock to fall back on, I have to go to bed on time if I want to wake up on time in the morning.

Pretty simple, eh?

I’ll make exceptions to this rule, I’m sure. So far I haven’t had any super-early meetings or 6:00 a.m. flights. When I do, I’ll need an alarm.

At that point, I’ll have to decide. I’m leaning towards getting a cute, inexpensive alarm clock.

Of course, I could just sleep with my iPhone for the night.

But that’s a slippery slope.

How do YOU wake up in the morning? Any tips for ditching the alarm?

P.S. Why it’s so hard to put down the book and go to bed already.

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  1. carrie says:

    I know…if I use my phone I do this too. I have a cheapie IKEA alarm. It’s loud enough to wake the dead… er the kids so I put a baby bandaid over the noisy part. It helps too that it has no snooze button!

  2. Oh man, I went through something similar recently! We had an iHome that I’d been using as an alarm clock (and honestly never used the docking function), but it was only accessible to up to iPhone 4, and we recently got rid of our last compatible device, so I ditched the iHome. But then I was stuck using my phone as my alarm clock, and you’re right–I checked it first thing when I woke up and didn’t get out of bed efficiently! I picked up a little alarm clock from Target and I’m quite pleased with it. 🙂

  3. Betsy says:

    I use my iPhone alarm. In fact, I have an alarm clock on my nightstand, but I haven’t even changed it to Daylight Savings Time yet. I NEVER look at it.

    I just ordered a Fitbit. I’m curious about it’s silent alarm. I guess it rattles on your wrist until you wake up? We’ll see how that goes….

    • Kay says:

      Love the fitbit silent alarm. Now if only my husband had one 🙂 . I have slept through it (or fallen back to sleep) occasionally. It goes off twice with something like 9 minutes in between.

  4. Abby says:

    I use something called “Sonic Boom”:
    I discovered it last year when I went searching for something new that wouldn’t wake my hubby (I get up almost 2 hours earlier than him during the school year). It has a beeping function, but I only use the bed shaker. It’s gotten to the point that I don’t even hear my hubby’s alarm clock go off anymore (on those rare days when he has to get up before me), but I definitely notice my alarm.

  5. kimmie says:

    Cute clock!!! We’ve had the same boxy radio alarm clock for years. And we have to pray the night before that BOBFM doesn’t glitch out and our alarm is radio silence.

    I think that book is on my daughter’s book shelf!!!!! 🙂

  6. Tiffany says:

    This post confirms it for me – I’m giving up sleeping with my phone as of tonight. I’ve been pondering the need to break this habit, but I haven’t wanted to. I like waking up and reading fb, blogs etc. But I hate it at the same time. Tonight, the phone stays in the kitchen. As for another alarm, I’ll think about that later. I wake up early enough without the alarm.

  7. Tim says:

    I use an alarm clock, but that’s because we get up way early in order to do prayers together before running or hitting the gym when it opens at 5:00. I like waking up when my body is ready, but it would never be ready at 4:15 in the morning!

  8. Bethany says:

    I started keeping my phone in another room. Bought cheapo alarm clock and have it sitting on the other side of my room. Working for me.

  9. Tina B says:

    My BF is great about always texting me good morning and good night. I never used my iPhone as an alarm before dating him. Sometimes we stay up waaaay too late texting and, while I don’t regret the time spent with him, I miss the sleep terribly. I know, I should leave the phone in the other room after I say good night… I know.

  10. Anne says:

    I got nuthin’ for ya. I wake up to a sweet baby next to me. 🙂 Uninstall the apps and leave it across your room? I hope you find a good solution!

  11. Ana says:

    My alarm clock is the cutest. But not available in stores (unless I get fed up with these tantrums and put him on ebay?) These days the bright sun hitting my eyes does the trick well before the kids get up (they have black-out curtains, we don’t). I do sleep with my phone on my bedside table, and you’re right, its a big temptation to look at it before I go to bed. I get in the habit because I am on call sometimes, but when I’m not, I probably should leave it downstairs on the charger. It is handy to text the husband to get me some water or turn up the air when I’m in bed and he’s 3 floors down watching movies late at night!

  12. Tuija says:

    How about using the phone as an alarm clock and putting it outside the bedroom door, or just so far away from the bed that you can’t reach it from the bed? (Not so far away that you don’t hear the alarm 🙂 ) For me, that’s also the trick that makes me less likely to use the snooze button. Since I need to get out of the bed to silence the alarm, I’ll just keep going all the way to the bathroom…

    I don’t have a smartphone, so using the phone as an alarm clock does not turn it into a temptation for me.
    But, by all means, a cute inexpensive alarm clock will do the trick just as easily. 🙂

  13. Jennifer H says:

    I use my phone alarm for naps (what’s that, you say? LOL), but I have a radio alarm clock that I set only when I have to be awake before 8. I do wake up at night occasionally (ok, almost every night) and look at the clock. Your post is making me rethink the wisdom of having the time available to me at night.

  14. I use my baby…or the boys. 🙂 At about 6:45 she rolls open the door to the bathroom she sleeps in in a minicrib, and I can see her from our bed. Eventually she turns on the light (because she can reach it), and then I decide it’s really time to get out of bed. 🙂 Someday we will move to a bigger house… 🙂

  15. Madeline says:

    This is a very accurate post! I don’t have a cell phone, so I haven’t struggled with that yet. I have been trying to get in bed by sunset, so I wake up at a good time (hopefully close to sunrise). Leaving my bedroom window open helps me track the sunlight and start planning for bed.

  16. Betty Carlson says:

    One advantage to getting older and needing reading glasses. I leave my glasses in the living room and intentionally leave font on my phone small enough that I need them. I use an app on my phone called sleep time. It is an alarm that analysis your sleep. It also has soundscape or white noise to put you to sleep. The algorithm determines what phase of sleep you are in and knows the perfect time to wake you so you are not groggy. It does have a snooze that I use to do some stretches before getting up. as you can probably tell I love it. I have found I have cut out two cups of coffee a day since I started using it.

  17. Jenny says:

    I don’t sleep with my phone in my room, and lately we’ve been cracking our curtains so that some natural sunlight comes in and does its thing around 6:45…it’s amazing how much nicer it is to wake up to gentle sunlight than to a screaming baby (or alarm).

    Though often, the babies do beat the sun.

    On the rare occasions (6 am flights) I need to be up by a certain time, I set my phone alarm and leave it on a bookshelf in the next room. We’re really working on getting all electronics out of our bedroom. Kindles and MacBooks are the last holdouts…

  18. Tina B says:

    I am curious if any of you are concerned about the dreaded “call in the middle of the night?” My Dad died last year and the call came around 1 am. If my phone wasn’t by my bed, I’m not sure that I would have heard it. I sleep soundly. I’m also sure I’m not the only one who doesn’t have a land line any more. Thoughts?

    • Anne says:

      When my husband is out of town, I sleep with my phone. And the dreaded “call in the middle of the night” is one of the reasons why we got a land line again when we moved. For $10 a month, I thought it would be worth it just for the security of knowing I was reachable at home, even if I didn’t have my phone in my pocket (or on my nightstand).

      I’m so sorry about your dad—and glad you at least could answer that call when it did come.

  19. kimmie says:

    I got that call a couple of years ago. Thank goodness we still have a land line because my silly “dumb” phone is usually charging in the kitchen at night.

  20. Hannah says:

    I don’t have an iPhone so that’s not an issue for me. But I’ve been thinking about this very thing recently because I HATE alarm clocks. What a hellish way to wake up. On the other hand, I want to wake up earlier to get more time to write in the mornings before the kids come downstairs. The ONLY way I can achieve this is to go to bed earlier so that I wake up early naturally. The problem is that I love those hallowed quiet moments in the night when everyone else is asleep. It’s going to require a lot of discipline for me to go to bed earlier. I think I’m going to make this the one thing life change I work toward this summer. Maybe the only one for the rest of the year 😉

  21. Liza says:

    I used to use an app on the phone that monitors your sleep cycle and wakes you up within 20 minutes of your set alarm time – but chooses a time when you’re in a light sleep to make it easier to wake up. It worked really well at first and it was easier to get up. But then it started ringing at 6:29 every day, when the alarm was set at 6:30. And it’s also too easy to snooze and go right back to sleep. I finally ditched it and use my alarm clock again. But even with that, I hit the snooze button too many times.

    I wake up naturally around 9 or 9:30, no matter what time I go to bed. Which is not helpful when you have to have kids at school before 8:00! An alarm is a must for me!

  22. Kristin says:

    I always leave my phone downstairs at night. Too tempting otherwise. I use an alarm, but have found that I am often wake right before it goes off. Much better that way. My husband trusts himself to not set an alarm, but that makes me nervous. Everyone in the house would be late if mom overslept!

  23. Gillian says:

    I sleep with my phone at night, but it’s a dumb phone, not a smart phone. 🙂 I set my phone alarm for five minutes before my actual alarm, so my pre-alarm wakes me have a couple of minutes of just sitting. 🙂

  24. Rachel says:

    One of the perks of working as an ESL teacher overseas is that I don’t have to leave the house until 1pm. So I’m free to wake up when my body is ready…usually around 9am each day

  25. There is nothing I hate like waking up to an alarm clock–I do not want to be startled and stressed first thing in the morning. When I was working outside of the home and waking up at 5am to hit the gym before work, I bought the Peaceful Progression Wake Up Timer ( and it was perfect for me. It begins with a sunrise simulator, gently waking you with light. If that doesn’t work, it will start in with nature sounds (8 to choose from) and then will finally chime if you still aren’t up after 30 minutes. It never failed to wake me with the light. But even with that alarm clock, I noticed over time that I really didn’t need it if I was in a routine. I guess I have a pretty good internal alarm clock. If I know what time I need to get up, I’ll usually naturally wake up at that time. If I need to get up extra early for something (travel, for example) I do set my peaceful alarm clock. Otherwise, I just rely on my internal clock to wake me. During pregnancy, I always use the clock because all internal time measurement goes out the window for me with pregnancy fatigue.

    Also, I hate alarm clocks so much that I asked my husband to stop using his i-phone alarm. It wouldn’t wake him up but it would wake me. For the last year I’ve just rolled over at his wake up time and nudged him out of bed and then gone back to sleep myself until my morning needs to begin. So basically, I am his clock. He very occasionally sets an alarm when I go to bed before he’s had a chance to tell me about an early meeting.

  26. D says:

    I have my radio alarm set for the classical station. Not a bad way to wake up, and my husband never minds it. It was accidentally set to a beeping noise ONE time–I nearly had a heart attack.

  27. Elizabeth says:

    Bold move. I really like this idea. I have the same rabbit hole dilemma when my phone is on my bed stand (bad email checking habit). And I know *exactly* what you mean by this: “I stay up too late, have to wake up early anyway, get really tired, and then I get sick.” Like clockwork – happens every time to me. Loss of sleep always comes back to bite me in the ass.

    I hope this works out for you well. 🙂

  28. I need to ditch the phone by the bedside too…not only does it distract me at bedtime when I should be reading a book and not the ‘Face’ kind…but I find myself browsing in the morning when I wake up instead of the stuff I set the alarm EARLY to do….. ugh…

  29. I really struggle with this too. I have my phone plugged into my i-home on my nightstand and use it to play white noise through an app all night, and then for my alarm. But that slippery slope that you describe is SO hard to resist! Maybe I need to consider getting just an actual alarm clock AND a fan instead…

  30. Amy says:

    I think in theory I could go without an alarm clock, but in real life I would be so stressed out about not having an alarm clock to wake me up (what if I miss something?????) that I’d toss and turn all night, and then not wake up on time!

  31. Raquel says:

    This is fascinating! We are in the Years Of Young Children, and so the idea that I would get enough sleep and naturally wake up never occurred to me. We did have a very difficult season recently where we would never set an alarm- the children usually woke us up, and on the rare occasion they all slept in, it was worth being late for (almost!) anything for the extra sleep! Right now the crib is taking up the space where my night stand used to be, and I am using my phone instead of an alarm clock because I can tuck it next to the mattress- while I love reading on the kindle before bed (can’t turn on a light to read a real book with the baby!), I hate the temptation to get online before I get out of bed. I give in far too frequently, and it’s not a great start to the day. I think when we move soon (and the baby goes in with her sister), I will go back to my trusty travel alarm clock. I like it because it doesn’t glow, but I can hit the backlight button if I want to check the time.

    • Anne says:

      Oh my goodness, I get the Years of Young Children. We were very recently in the Year of the Never-Fail 5:00 A.M. Baby Alarm Clock! Wishing you many restful nights of sleep, and sooner rather than later!

  32. Megan says:

    I have found that the very best thing for me is to plug my phone in and set my alarm on it ACROSS THE ROOM. This way, I can’t toy around with it right before bed and in the morning I have to literally stand up and walk to it in order to turn it off, which is super helpful because just standing up usually wakes me up pretty easily. It has worked wonders for me!

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