As an added impetus to get out of bed before sunrise each weekday so that I may continue to fill my mind with certifiably geeky things, I have my alarm set to an horrific FM radio station. I also have the backup alarm set to go off 5 minutes later, which is two minutes before the snooze on the first alarm kicks in. This usually manages to get me out of bed after about 45 minutes. Which is why my clock is set an hour ahead. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
This morning, after whipping off the sheets in exasperation and flipping off the alarm switch with a little extra flick of the forefinger than needed — I began to think what having this alarm set to a crappy FM station could be doing for my mental health. I know I don’t want to wake up to the buzzer setting; But am I any better off waking to the sounds of Limp Bizkit or whoever plays those other 5 songs in the rotation that sound like Limp Bizkit? Still, I’m worried about having anything too coaxing that could possibly lure me back into slumbers. So, I’ve avoided switching it to the classical station.
This morning I tried to find some sort of article that links waking to the blaring of an alarm with increased rates of stress. So far – I’ve come across:
- The Soleil Sun Alarm Clock
- The same BBC article in two different editions with the same picture photoshopped in the second article  
- How Other Cultures Awaken – Alarm Clock Alternatives
- Engadget – Alarm Clock That Really Makes You Get Up
- Life: Constant Hunt for More Snooze Time
- Understanding the Biological Clock
And the search could go on…But the gist of what I’ve gathered so far is, from the Wikipedia:
The amount of cortisol present in the serum undergoes diurnal variation, with the highest levels present in the early morning, and lower levels in the evening, several hours after the onset of sleep.[...]Changed patterns of the serum cortisol levels have been observed in connection with [...]clinical depression [and] psychological stress…
So – an unnatural interruption of your slumber leads to a disturbance in your cortisol levels which is a cause for psychological stress. It is especially stressful during the winter months, when there is less exposure to daylight. Willi suggested I get a light box a few weeks back — and talked about SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder – but somehow things are more interesting when you stumble upon them unexpectedly. I mean, I’d intended to find out what kind of damage an alarm clock could reap and wound up ingesting a buncha new terms and experiments of light exposure.
This entry has lost a lot of momentum now — undoubtedly due to the increase of melatonin in my system with the blanketing of night — but I think that this may be one of those topics that haunts me. It’s probably gonna cozy up in that fold of my brain that Billy Budd is tucked into. And well it should — I’ve quoted these lines before and I’ll do it again — because they always seem to find a way to surface:
Fathoms down, fathoms down, how I’ll dream fast asleep.
I feel it stealing now. Sentry, are you there?
Just ease these darbies at the wrist,
And roll me over fair!
I am sleepy, and the oozy weeds about me twist.
How can you not let the words Circadian Rhythm haunt you?