In the modern world, we hold time in high regard. Getting to meetings and social events on time mean a lot to us and to others around us. We impact each other with our timekeeping. As a result, the vast majority of people use an alarm clock to be able to get out of bed in the mornings. This way we can fulfil our morning duties toward each other, our children or our employers.
But are alarm clocks actually hurting you in the process? How do they impact our mental health, our physical health, and our lifestyles?
Should we rely on alarm clocks, or should we try to manipulate our lives or biological rhythms to work for us? Before we make any drastic changes to our habits, let’s take a look to see exactly what the situation is. We will start with a mental health perspective.
Are Alarm Clocks Bad For You | Things to Consider
Being jolted awake in the mornings by a loud, piercing alarm can quickly cause you to develop a fear of mornings. Harsh wake-up calls are indeed bad for morale. They are the best way to start the day off on the wrong foot. But this issue can easily be mitigated with the use of silent alarms that are a standard function of fitness trackers and smartwatches. These vibrate at the given time and gently ease you into waking consciousness. Quiet, musical alarms are another option, as well as those that increase the volume steadily.
The above are just a few options that will help you avoid being suddenly scared awake in the morning.
It is better for your mental health to wake up at a set time each day (and to keep a stable nightly bedtime). Routines allow the brain to relax knowing that everything is as it should be. Having an alarm clock softly stir you awake in the mornings is actually a good thing from this perspective. They allow you to schedule your sleep and develop good habits., which is especially important for children, which is why it’s worth considering getting a kids alarm clock.
Like with mental health, keeping your sleep to a set schedule is generally good for your physical health. If you work with your natural circadian rhythm instead of against it, setting sleep time is very advantageous. Apps and gadgets that track your movements and noises in the night can use that information to tell when you are in deep sleep and when you aren’t. They can then set your alarm dynamically to wake you at a good point in your sleep cycle.
Generally, you will be woken outside of your REM phase, but you can set an absolute deadline to wake you by. This means you will be better rested and in a better mood first thing in the morning.
There are instances, however, when alarm clocks can be bad for you. This is due mainly to their misuse, but it is still worth mentioning. Research shows that people are not getting enough sleep, and while the main culprit is the societal expectations, alarm clocks also share the blame. The average person needs between 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. If you do not allow yourself this amount of time to recuperate and regroup, then you could end up facing sleep debt.
Sleep debt itself has negative effects both in the short term and long term. Day to day effects are low mood, loss of motivation, less productivity, lower ability to absorb new information, and of course, grogginess.
It is the long term effects of sleep deprivation, however, that are a real reason for concern. It contributes to a whole array of illnesses including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity (as well as being unable to shed extra weight). These are only some of the connections that research has shown between not sleeping enough and ill health. More is sure to be uncovered as science advances.
So do yourself a favor and make sure that you are not just setting the alarm for an early start. Get an early night to match.
Impact on Lifestyle
Getting up early in the morning and regulating your sleep time and pattern has been shown to lead to higher levels of productivity during the day. A well-rested brain and body can get a lot more done than one with a haphazard sleep routine. Alarm clocks can help to make sure that you are following the schedule by not allowing oversleeping to be an option.
When you regulate the time you spend in bed (if you are likely to oversleep otherwise), you have more time in the mornings. Extra time is everything in the modern world. Having a plan for your sleep and waking times can also influence other areas of your life. You can easily get organized if you know how much time you have on your hands.
Alarm clocks are not bad for you by virtue of being alarm clocks. They can be bad for you if you use them in a way that is bad for you. By not allowing your body time to rejuvenate, you are actually the one causing the damage. Alarm clocks are just a tool for this. It is not fair to say that just because some people misuse them, all alarm clocks are bad.
Alarm clocks can be tools for good as well. For an organized, productive and happy day to day experience, it is good to use some form of an alarm clock to wake you up in the mornings. To ensure that you are not causing yourself harm, block in a minimum of 8 hours for sleep every night.
Set a natural rhythm to your day that you keep to all the time – even on weekends. There are those who need less sleep than average, and that’s fine, too. As long as you know your requirements and insist on fulfilling them.