Gary Ogden04 Dec 2017 AT 09:50 AM

This is why you always wake up right before your alarm

Science, why you do this?
Gary Ogden04 Dec 2017 AT 09:50 AM
This is why you always wake up right before your alarm
© Shutterstock

One of life’s greatest annoyances is waking up juuuuust before your alarm is supposed to go off. I mean, the alarm itself is annoying too, but there’s just something that little bit extra about wiping your eyes, leaning over to check your clock, and finding you’ve only got three minutes until you’ve got to get up. This is because, on the other hand, one of life’s greatest pleasures is checking the time and finding you’ve got a whole two hours left of sleep.

But why, whhhyyy does the human body feel the need to jolt awake right at the same time, every day, even when you’re trying to have a lie-in? Well, it’s all because of our old friend: science.

Or more specifically, the circadian rhythm. The circadian what? The what rhythm? Well, it’s a term used to describe the body’s 24-hour cycle - its internal clock, basically. It’s all controlled by a section of the hypothalamus in your brain, called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, and it dictates your energy levels throughout the day.

As such, it decides when you go to sleep and wake up, too. The cycle is regulated by a protein called PER, which differs in levels throughout the day, and affects your blood pressure and heart rate, as well as your attention span and cognitive ability. So when it’s running low, you get all sleepy, just like a big baby.

If you follow a routine on most days, then your body gets used to it, and adapts to increase and decrease the protein at the usual times. So, it pumps the protein out in large doses just about an hour before it thinks your alarm is about to go off, so you’ll wake up on time.

Your body also releases stress hormones like cortisol, to get you ready for the act of waking up. It does this so you wake up naturally, rather than getting slapped into the day by an obnoxious alarm clock.

So your body is just trying to be helpful, and just think: you’ve forgotten to set your alarm again - now it’s saving your career too. Your body, keeping you in employment since 19whenever.

To say thanks to your body for attempting to actually help you out, don’t press the snooze button. Your body’s put in all that hard work to help you awake in a soothing manner, and going immediately back to sleep mixes all the sleeping and waking hormones together and you end up feeling even more groggy than before. It gets worse the more you snooze, too. So leave it alone - it is an evil button.

However, if you’re one of those people who constantly sleeps through your alarm, it probably means you’re not getting enough kip, or your routine is all over the place (waves to all the university students reading this). So if you can, please try to wake up at the same time every single day, including weekends.

If you can manage this, you’ll find yourself feeling lovely and well-rested, all the time. Of course, I shall not in a million years be setting an alarm of any sort on the weekend - I will actively put my phone in the blender if you try and force me to do this.

Kaaay, it’s my nap time now, buh-bye.

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