How To Wake Up To Your First Alarm

Andres Marinkovic
Aug 23, 2016 · 5 min read

Let me guess, you wish you could wake up right away when your alarm goes off. You wish you could avoid snoozing or setting additional alarms after the first one. Well, I’m gonna tell you an easy way of doing so.

And no, it doesn’t involve any strange gadget, like an alarm that shakes your bed (I can’t believe I actually bought this), or an app that sends money to charity every time you hit the snooze button. It’s actually 100% free and only takes a couple of minutes of your day.

You Shouldn’t Snooze

Why is it so important to wake to the first alarm anyway? Well, for starters, the quality of sleep between alarms is too low for you to actually rest, so you won’t get many benefits from snoozing. Some even suggest you actually wake up worst than if you had woken to the first alarm:

When the alarm goes off a second time, you’re likely at an even deeper, earlier part of your sleep cycle, which results in you feeling even worse than you did the first time.

So if you snooze for 20 minutes, you’re actually wasting 20 minutes of your day, every day. They’re simply gone without any benefit in exchange. It might not seem much, but there’s a lot you can accomplish in 20 minutes, like training to become physically stronger, reading a book, or mastering a skill you once thought impossible.

And let’s not forget those times you simply ignore all of your alarms, and end up rushing through your morning to get to work on time. Sounds familiar?

All of these reasons left me wondering if there was a way to simply wake up when the first alarm goes off. No snooze, no additional alarms, no uncertainty of when I’ll wake up.

Most articles will give you advice like: “be strong and just wake up”. I wish it were that simple. Like Tim Urban said about a similar advice on beating procrastination: “While we’re here, let’s make sure obese people avoid overeating, depressed people avoid apathy, and someone please tell beached whales that they should avoid being out of the ocean.”

But a while back I discovered an awesome article describing a way that actually worked.

The Miracle Morning

Picture this: you set up your alarm for exactly the time you intend to wake up, not a minute earlier. You go to bed confident, 100% sure you’ll wake up at the designated time. In the morning, you get to sleep a little longer since you can set your alarm a few minutes later than your usual “first alarm”. When your alarm starts ringing, you wake up, turn it off, and begin your day right away (take a shower, eat breakfast, or whatever you do first thing in the morning). Yep, that’s exactly how my mornings look like right now.

All of this can be achieved through a pretty simple and straightforward method. The only flaw about this method is that it’s a little silly. And that alone might be a good reason for you to never try it out.

So before telling you what it is, my only request is that you try it at least once, without questioning. Just once. If it doesn’t work, you’re only going to lose a couple of minutes of your life, and then you’ll be free to go back to whatever method you currently use for waking up (which I guess is not that great since you got this far down this post).

So without further ado, this is the trick: practice waking up to your alarm before going to sleep. (Note: I got this trick from this blog post. Thanks Steve!)

It’s pretty simple actually: before falling asleep, set the alarm for 2 or 3 more minutes. Then turn off the lights, go to bed, close your eyes, and simply wait for the alarm to ring. When it does, open your eyes, get out of bed, turn off the alarm, and do whatever it is you do after you normally wake up. For example, I go to the shower and turn it on, as if I were about to take a shower. Then I just turn it off and actually go to sleep.

Next morning, without exception, I wake up to the first alarm.

I’m so confident that it works now that I only set one alarm and never miss it or hit the snooze button. I even get to wake up my wife sometimes, when she snoozes trough all of her alarms.

I must admit I was a little skeptic the first time I tried this, but I did it anyway, thinking it wouldn’t really work. Then, the next morning, I woke up and got out of bed as soon as the alarm rang — to my absolute surprise.

So that’s it? Yep, that’s it. I’ve doing this consistently for more than a month now and it has never failed me.

So why does it work?

To understand why it works, you have to understand the real reason behind ignoring your alarm. When you set it, you’re awake and making good, rational decisions. You’re an adult with responsibilities and people that depend on you.

But when the alarm goes off in the morning, you’re in a terrible state to make a good decision, since literally seconds ago you were sleeping. So, without a proper direction, you unconsciously do whatever feels is right at the time, which in this case is keep sleeping. You’re unable to weight the consequences of that action because the part of you that weights consequences of actions is still partially asleep.

But here’s the good news: the mind tends to unconsciously repeat whatever you did before in a similar situation. It’s as if your brain taped whatever you do the first few times you solve a problem and then sets itself to automatically play that tape whenever you encounter that same problem again.

So by practicing the night before, you are exploiting this mechanism to tell your subconscious to do what to you want it to do, kind of like programming yourself. As a result, you delegate the decision of waking up to your conscious self, liberating your unconscious self from that burden.

I hope this little trick works for you like it did for me. If it doesn’t, please leave a comment below letting me know, I’m genuinely curious to find out whether this works for everyone or not.


Life Reflections

Andres Marinkovic

Written by

CTO @, father of two and minimalist. Feel free to email me about anything:


Life Reflections

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