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Are we trained to only wake up to our own alarms?

by Meghann on September 26, 2012

Do you think we’re trained to only wake up to our own alarms?

Derek had to be work extra early this morning, so he had to set his alarm to go off before mine (probably for the first time since I moved in). Usually I’m up, dressed, and out the door before he even begins to stir. It was opposite this morning – he was up, dressed, and out the door before my alarm was even thinking about buzzing. The strange thing is, I have no recollection of his extra-early alarm going off. I only remember him waking me up for a kiss before he walked out the door.

I was thinking about this on my run this morning. Granted, I’m a heavy sleeper, but usually when I stay with other folks that have to be up before I am, I rarely hear their alarms going off before my own. Also, I find my alarm pretty loud and obnoxious (hey – it gets me up!), but it does nothing to wake up Derek. Every morning he continues to snore as I run across the room to turn my alarm off and tip toe around the bed getting ready for the day.

I wonder if we train ourselves to only wake up to our own alarms when we know other people are around? Or if we’re just so used to our partner’s alarms, that we learn to ignore them when they go off before we need to get up? The only time I wake up to Derek’s alarm is when I know I should be up at that time (like his alarm is set for 7:00 and mine’s set for 7:00, but his goes off first for whatever reason). I think there’s something to be said about our bodies knowing when it’s time to get up as well. hmm…

What about you? Do you wake up to other people’s alarms or just your own?

Sorry, random ramblings of a runner. I obviously think about very important things as I’m running. 😉

Do you know who goes crazy in the morning no matter who’s alarm is going off? Maddie. She hears an alarm – ANY alarm – and she’ll bounce out of a deep sleep, ready to play. Time to get up! Time to play! Time to potty! Time to get up! Luckily, my subconscious has learned to zone her out in the morning too.

Maddie was still pretty wound up when I got up, so I strapped a leash on her and took her out for the 3 miler with me. My running princess was in heaven. We did our normal 3 mile loop, then came back and I did a quick routine of jumping jacks, squats, lunges, push-ups, and sit-ups to keep the blood pumping for another 15 minutes.

Once I was done, I made a simple breakfast of waffle and peaches.


This was the last of a batch of homemade waffles my sisters and I made when they visited the other week (I froze the extras – just pop them in the toaster and they’re better than an eggo). Smothered with almond butter and jam then sprinkled with ground flax and granola.


A juicy fresh peach on the side.


Good meal. 🙂

Alright, time for this day to begin.


1 Caryln @ carylnrambles September 26, 2012 at 9:57 am

We talked about that in my neuroscience class in the summer! Your brain actually does have a way to selectively decide which noises are significant, even while you are sleeping. It is the reason that people can live by noisey train tracks and never wake up but will still wake up to their alarm.
Caryln @ carylnrambles recently posted..A Love Letter

2 Meghann September 26, 2012 at 10:02 am


3 Courtney @ Journey of a Dreamer September 26, 2012 at 10:01 am

I must be a light sleeper because I wake up to any alarm… even if someone in our guest room has an alarm going off I wake up. I wish I could sleep through it somedays LOL
Courtney @ Journey of a Dreamer recently posted..WIAW #10 – Pumpkin Paleo Pancakes

4 Chelsie @ Balance, Not Scale September 26, 2012 at 10:03 am

Gah! That waffle looks AMAZING!! I might have to do that — make up a batch of waffles and freeze them. I love them but will rarely have them because they take so long to make and buying frozen waffles is expensive and they don’t taste nearly as good. (This idea actually makes me super excited!!)
I can sleep through a lot of noise and light, but I think that’s because I trained myself to while working rounds of overnight shifts. However, it comes with the added bonus of being able to sleep wherever and whenever, which I’m definitely a fan of! 🙂
Chelsie @ Balance, Not Scale recently posted..WIAW — What I DIDN’T Eat Wednesday …

5 Natalie @ Free Range Human September 26, 2012 at 10:06 am

I think there is something to that. I never hear my husband’s alarm, but I wake up immediately to mine.
Natalie @ Free Range Human recently posted..Ramblings on a Random Tuesday

6 jenna September 26, 2012 at 10:20 am

I used to live in my sorority’s house and we had dormers….which was basically the top floor of the house full of beds. We had close to 40 girls sleeping in our house and somehow we all learned to just wake up to our own alarm. It usually took about a week to get used to the outside noise. It sounds like the craziest sleeping quarters but it was wonderful…dark, quiet and cool.

7 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats September 26, 2012 at 10:21 am

I am a crazy light sleeper so I wake up to just about anything!
Katie @ Peace Love & Oats recently posted..WIAW–Nutrition Plan

8 Lize September 26, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Katie, I’m the same way. I’d probably wake up if someone sighed in the next room!
Lize recently posted..More vegan musings

9 Megan September 26, 2012 at 10:36 am

Your peach looks awesome.

I am a heavy sleeper and wake up to my kids (sometimes I need a nudge from my husband though now that they aren’t babies) and my alarm. I never hear my husbands alarm unless I’ve been pushing snooze on mine and in between sleep and awake.

10 jena September 26, 2012 at 10:51 am

I wake up to everything – maybe it’s because I know my Husband doesn’t hear anything. He doesn’t hear his alarm, my alarm or me talking to him in the morning. It’s almost like he goes into a coma. He has difficulty sleeping, so once he’s asleep, he’s out and it’s like trying to wake the dead. BUT, he will hear sounds that are out of place; like noises in the garage, or in the living room. He’ll wake up out of a dead sleep for that, but the alarm? forget it. He doesn’t hear it.

11 Karen @ Runner Girl Eats September 26, 2012 at 10:59 am

I agree! Matt snoozes through my alarm every morning but wakes up the minute his goes off 20 min later. So weird! Also, I need to remember to make waffles Sunday to freeze for the week. Your breakfast looks so much better than mine did this morning (read: whatever I could grab while darting around the house late per usual)
Karen @ Runner Girl Eats recently posted..Fall has finally arrived…in my living room

12 Jen September 26, 2012 at 11:03 am

Haha, I don’t even wake up to my own alarm. It’s horrible! I set three of them and sleep through them all 🙁

13 Katrina September 26, 2012 at 12:48 pm

You’re not alone! I have mine across the room. There’s been times that I’ve turned them all off… or reset them to the wrong time… often I bruise my knee walking across the room. No idea how.

And I always wake up tired. I’m convinced it’s because I’m not meant to wake up in the morning. If I could find a decent 3rd shift job, I’d be all for it!

14 Jen September 26, 2012 at 2:09 pm
15 Rebecca September 26, 2012 at 11:06 am

My bf wakes up earlier than me most days and I wake up to his alarm about 95% of the time. And he hits snooze a lot…he is lucky he is still my bf!

16 Caitlin September 26, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Oh yes! There have been days I roll over and snap, “Just get up!!!” and this is mainly because I don’t snooze, at all. I’m a morning person, so the alarm goes off and I’m up and ready.

17 Jameil September 26, 2012 at 11:10 am

All alarms awaken me. I discovered a weird thing in college, too. No matter how deep the sleep, my name wakes me up. You can whisper it and I’m instantly awake. Maybe groggy, but awake and lucid enough to respond. I can also attest to the train thing. There are tracks about 7 minutes from my mom’s house. I almost never heard it as a kid. It just didn’t register. Now every time I go home I’m like, “Oh yeah! Trains!” It’s faint, not like the El outside of my window, but still. In undergrad, I lived next door to the chapel. The clock chiming every hour (song + one bell for each hour of the day) and half hour (just one bell) never woke me up but it was loud and clear when I was awake.
Jameil recently posted..Race Recap: BGR! 10K

18 Dori September 26, 2012 at 11:22 am

It’s not the sound of your alarm, it’s the time it usually goes off that influences your sleep habits. Of course, how heavy or deep you sleep will influence that as well — but no, it’s definitely not the particular sound!
Dori recently posted..Newport Liberty Half Marathon Recap

19 Meghann September 26, 2012 at 12:03 pm

I agree that you know what time your alarm should go off and that’s what helps wake you up, but Derek’s alarm went off at 5:30 (the time I usually wake up on Tuesdays and Fridays for swim practice) and I didn’t hear it at all, even though I tend to wake up at that time to my own alarm (even when I forgot to turn it off for that time).

20 Annette @FitnessPerks September 26, 2012 at 11:40 am

I totally don’t ever hear other people’s alarms. EVER. I am the deepest sleeper i know! Hah.

Love that b-fast. It looks delish!

21 Chelsea @ahintofhealthy September 26, 2012 at 11:49 am

I am such a deep sleeper, I could sleep through anything! Also I love that you make the waffles beforehand and freeze them. Such a great idea I need to try!
Chelsea @ahintofhealthy recently posted..Some Ab Work and Pumpkin Overnight Oats!

22 lisa September 26, 2012 at 11:58 am

For the people who are deep sleepers: they make alarms that you put under your pillow and vibrate to wake you up. They are what the deaf use as alarm clocks and are very effective for those who have trouble waking up to audible alarms.

23 Caitlin September 26, 2012 at 6:10 pm

I’m sure I’d get use to this after using it for about a week, but I think at first it would freak me out to wake up to something vibrating beneath my head.

24 JennyV September 26, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Funny– my husband and I just talked about that this morning! I rarely wake York his alarm but never miss mine. I don’t even remember hearing his this AM …

25 Simone September 26, 2012 at 12:21 pm

my boyfriend gets up before me and he has this annoying as heck circus sounding alarm clock, drives me mental! it definitely wakes me up in the morning no problem
Simone recently posted..Farmers market love

26 Bethany @ Accidental Intentions September 26, 2012 at 12:25 pm

All through college I’d always wake up to my roommates’ alarms. I don’t know if I ever slept through one in four years. This is a somewhat reassuring post though — maybe my roommates didn’t hear my alarms when they would go off! That’s a nice thought…haha.
Bethany @ Accidental Intentions recently posted..Birthday Take Two

27 Katie @ Talk Less, Say More September 26, 2012 at 12:30 pm

While I was in the middle of my move from LA back to Chicago, my dad got the crap scared out of him by my alarm. He even rolled over and asked me if I was trying to scare myself awake? I thought it was funny and said “well I’m up, aren’t I?” IT WORKS! 😉
Katie @ Talk Less, Say More recently posted..What I Ate Wednesday

28 Erica September 26, 2012 at 1:13 pm

DEFINITELY think we’re programmed to our own alarms! Even when I change the noise thats played by my phone to wake me up- it takes me a little longer to actually hear it. Weird. That peach looks so good.
Erica recently posted..Fall (?) Weekend

29 michelle September 26, 2012 at 1:28 pm

I slept in the “sleeping porch” (big, 24 hour dark/quiet room with at least 10 bunk beds) at my sorority for my first year of college. Waking up to multiple alarms was my biggest fear, but after a week or so I slept right through everyone else’s. Except maybe the girl that was a serial snoozer b/c some people would wake up and yell at her or something.

30 Ellen @ Wannabe Health Nut September 26, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Mmm..what a perfect Fall breakfast! I’m jealous. My internal alarm clock gets up around 5am every morning…whether I like it or not!
Ellen @ Wannabe Health Nut recently posted..How to Make Time for Exercise + Meal Planning

31 Melissa September 26, 2012 at 3:36 pm

I totally get the alarm thing! My husband often has to work at some God-awful hour of the morning (3:30 am!) so his alarm will go off at 2:30. I almost never hear it. When mine goes off at 5? I shoot out of bed. (And then grumble that I’m tired and don’t feel like running and then going to deal with teenagers all day). 🙂
Melissa recently posted..God is Good

32 Meghan @ After the Ivy League September 26, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Those waffles look delicious! I love freezing homemade pancakes, waffles, banana breads, etc. too, they last so much longer and are much better and cheaper than the store bought kind! I wake up to any alarm unfortunately, I wish I could sleep through the boyfriend’s alarm though!
Meghan @ After the Ivy League recently posted..WIAW #6: Grad School, Take Two

33 Caitlin September 26, 2012 at 6:07 pm

Definitely!!! If I’ve ever changed the ring to my alarm the following morning I never hear it and it seems to take a few days before my brain seems to register what the new alarm chime is.

I have to thank you for a few things: 1. I always wondered if carrots and nut butter would go together but thought it was weird and never tried it until I saw you eating it for lunch. Now I enjoy it almost daily! 2. I FINALLY found pumpkin butter and put a giant scoop of it in my oatmeal this morning. I grabbed it at Trader Joe’s and plan to buy them out before the season ends.

34 Alissa September 26, 2012 at 6:39 pm

Definitely agree! I only wake up to my alarm, no matter what type of commotion is going on outside of my bedroom. And of course it has to be a loud and obnoxious alarm, or I would probably sleep through that as well. My fiancé on the other hand can wake up to his phone alarm set to vibrate.
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35 Becky @ runfundone September 26, 2012 at 9:49 pm

My husband doesn’t wake up to my quiet and relaxing alarm, but I most certainly wake up to his obnoxious, loud, super scary alarm!
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36 Laura September 26, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Seems we are both in reflective moods today. You pose an interesting question. Now that I think about it my boyfriend and I experience something similar. Your thoughts are much more positive than mine, though. I have a bit more of a reflective rant going on on my page. :/
Laura recently posted..What Teachers Make, Besides Grades

37 Lori September 26, 2012 at 10:27 pm

I’m a terrible sleeper – every little sound wakes me up! I must wake up a dozen times a night and it stinks 🙁
Lori recently posted..You can’t catch up on sleep?

38 Iris Lee September 26, 2012 at 11:09 pm

Really interesting point about alarms! I think it’s true for me – I never woke up when my roommate’s alarm went off, even though it was right next to my head! Of course, I had trouble getting up when my own alarm went off too… 🙂

LOVE peaches and am so sad that their season is ending – I haven’t been able to find good ones the past week or so. Glad you’re still enjoying them though!
Iris Lee recently posted..Shoe Heaven and Vanilla Date Pear Muffins

39 Sarah September 26, 2012 at 11:30 pm

I never wake up to my husbands alarm (not once in 15 years has it disturbed me) but I do wake up EVERY time his fire pager goes off in the middle if the night. I think it’s one of those things that no one in their right mind would or could sleep through!!

I always make giant batches of waffles so I can freeze the extras. They are the perfect school day breakfast for the boy 🙂
Sarah recently posted..I absolutely REFUSE to be sick!!!

40 kim@hungryhealthygirl September 27, 2012 at 7:00 am

Sometimes I wake to my husband’s alarm. It really depends on how deep of a sleep I’m in. Like you though, it has maybe happened a handful of times that he has to wake up before me. Yummy, Fall looking breakfast!
kim@hungryhealthygirl recently posted..Thursday Things

41 Katie @ A Full Plate September 27, 2012 at 3:32 pm

My side of the bed has a nightstand, where my boyfriend and I both charge our phones during the night. My alarm always goes off first and I usually wake him up to start getting ready. He doesn’t ever seem to stir although since it’s right by my bed I’m quick to turn it off.

If he ever has an alarm on his phone that goes off it always wakes me up. Also, my boyfriend works in a restaurant and works late nights sometimes so he comes home after I’m already in bed. On those nights I always hear him come in…I don’t fully wake up, but I hear the door.

And yes, our dog always gets up as soon as she hears the alarm gets off!
Katie @ A Full Plate recently posted..Getting Serious

42 Hilary September 27, 2012 at 11:17 pm


I’m a long time reader (back when it was still the ol college grad site 😉 ) and I’m totally impressed/inspired by your motivation to run all the time! I’m currently a grad student (last semester yay!!) and interning a few days a week and I WANT to get into running but my motivation is just not there! I have it in my head but I don’t get to the actual doing. I’ll do a little walking and I used to be heavy into biking but my current situation doesn’t allow for the biking.. Do you have any suggestions or words of advice?? I don’t have a running buddy or partner and I’m just unsure of where to start!

Thanks! 🙂

43 Meghann September 28, 2012 at 9:16 am

Honestly? Just run! Don’t give yourself an excuse not to do it – strap on you gear and go. 🙂

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