a person trying to sleep surrounded by alarm clocks

Alarm Clock Dread

Let’s face it. Whether we’re headed to school, work, meetings, doctor's appointments, therapy, errands, or any number of other places, I think it’s fair to say that most people aren’t ready for their alarm clocks to go off. Regardless of what time they went to bed or how well they slept during the night, many have alarm clock dread.

Then, there are people like me that live with insomnia.

My nightly alarm clock dread

The way I feel about my alarm clock is like a sense of pre-exam dread. In the past, I used to have a physical alarm clock that sat on my nightstand. It had a clock, a radio, and a CD player, and I’d set it before I got into bed each night. Then, while I was tossing and turning, staring at the ceiling and wondering why exactly it was that I wasn’t asleep, I’d keep catching the glow of the numbers on the clock. In my head, I’d silently count the hours remaining until my alarm was set to go off, and as those hours dwindled, I’d feel increasing dread. Another day, another round of overwhelming exhaustion.

Several years ago, I ditched my old-school alarm clock in favor of using the built-in feature on my cell phone. My phone is always in bed with me or a few inches away on my nightstand, and the ease of setting the alarm, snoozing, and having more options to choose from was ideal. Plus, it was 1 more thing I could declutter.

My lessons learned

Here’s what I’ve learned – it doesn’t matter what type of device I use to set an alarm. Setting the alarm isn't the problem. Every night when I get into bed, I start with a small level of cautious optimism. Maybe this will be the night I sleep so well. Maybe I'll fall asleep quickly and only wake up once or twice. And maybe when I do wake up, it'll be short and sweet. A trip to the bathroom, or a sip of water, and then, when I turn back over, drifting off into the night will happen seamlessly.

And every night, as I'm waiting to fall asleep, or desperately trying to fall back asleep, I inevitably check the clock on my phone. And that, friends, is when the sense of dread begins.

My nightly monologue

Here's a typical monologue running in my head during the night: It's 1:45 AM. My alarm is set for 6:30 AM. That's less than 5 hours from now. That's ok, 5 hours is still a decent chunk of time. I'm going to listen to a meditation and soon I'll be back asleep. Hmm. Now it's 2:20 AM. I only have 4 hours left to sleep. That's like a really good nap. Woah, how did it get to 3:50 AM? My alarm is going off in 2 and one-half hours. I'm going to be really tired tomorrow. It's 5:05 AM. I should probably just get out of bed and start my day. What a disaster. I'm going to turn over and give it a few more minutes.

Then, I wake up with my 6:30 AM alarm, groggy, foggy, and wondering how I just got 75 minutes of sleep after a night of nothingness and need to find my way into functioning.

Insomnia is no joke

I understand that if I didn't live with insomnia, this would sound like a joke. But this internal dialogue happens way too often.

Does this sound familiar or resonate with anyone else? Please share a comment below.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Insomnia.Sleep-Disorders.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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