Dubai Diaries: Don’t be a slave to the alarm clock
How Kirstin Bernabe went on an 'alarm detox' and emerged calmer and more in control of her day
When it comes to setting alarms, I used to be just like any other sleepyhead. If I had to wake up at 7am, I would assemble an army of alarms: 6.45am, 6.50am, 6.55am, 6.57am, 6.58am, 6.59am, and then, finally, the last call.
That way, I could prevent my thumb from hitting the snooze button too many times — which, as you know, almost always ends up in a morning emergency of having to cram shower and breakfast into three minutes. Not the best way to start a day, right?
While I have always been grateful for my alarm clock’s service in the name of punctuality, the day came — when I didn’t need it anymore. Work made me realise that it was time to disband the army and grow up. I no longer set an alarm — as in, now, I just wake up and all is cool. Sometimes it’s a few minutes early or a few minutes late, but not to a crisis point.
I have been on this ‘alarm detox’ for a little over four years now. I needed a lifestyle change.
During my days on my first job in Dubai, I was always busy, racing against time, ticking off boxes on a never-ending to-do list. I worked late, woke up early.
I needed a longer series of alarms just to make sure I would be able to drag myself out of bed and onto the Metro. It happened day after day after day. I hated the sound of my phone and every waking morning was a war I fought with a grand battalion of alarms that were trying to invade my day.
Opening my eyes and pulling myself up felt like I had lost a battle. At one point, I asked myself, ‘does it always have to be this way?’ As the serenity prayer goes, ‘accept the things you cannot change and have the courage to change those you can’. So, I made a decision to do something about it.
The alarms weren’t the problem, it was my lifestyle. I would sleep late, binge-watching TV shows, which I felt I deserved after a long day at work. Or, sometimes, I would bring tasks home, work-life balance be damned. “My alarms would wake me up the next day, anyway,” I thought. With such reckless disregard for bedtime, there was no way waking up would be easy.
Things changed when I started making a conscious effort to sleep at least eight hours before I had to wake up. Then, before hitting the sack, I would remind myself what time I need to get up the next day.
I would spend about a minute or so just mentally taking note of the time. And that’s it, I trust my brain to remember — and it does. It worked day after day after day, until my mornings got brighter. I was calmer, even more productive.
Without the annoying alarms, I felt free from some ‘external force’ that was nagging me into doing something I didn’t want to do. By winding my body clock, I take control of my day right from the moment I wake up.