I hate alarm clocks. I have always hated alarm clocks. My earliest memories of those wretched things are of the old wind-up models, back in the 1950s. They had spring-wound clangers that, when activated, would be enough to wake the dead, not only on earth but on planets in neighbouring galaxies as well. The jarring jangling would inevitably be triggered when I was in the deepest sleep and I would awake abruptly, disoriented and in a foul mood.
The logical thing to do to avoid this trauma, was to train myself not to need those pesky things. I now tell myself what time I want to get up, and I will awake within a couple of minutes of the desired time. Occasionally, if I wish to wake up extra early to catch a flight or something similar, I might ask my wife to set her alarm, or the service desk at my hotel to arrange for a wakeup call. I can't remember ever not being awake when the buzzer buzzed or the bell rang.
If I am not specific about the time I wish to get up, my internal system will wake me up at intervals starting an hour or so before I wish to get out of bed, allow me to fall asleep and then keep rousing me ten or fifteen minutes later. If I tell myself to get up at a specific time, I will awake at almost exactly that time.
How does this work? I don't know. I have met a few other people who are able to do this, but have never heard of a satisfactory explanation as to how it works. How do my inner workings know when it says 6:30am (or whatever) on my nightstand clock and it is time for me to get up? I have no idea.
I usually just open my eyes at the desired time, roll out of bed and start my morning. Sometimes, if I happen to be at a stage in my sleep (like in the middle of a very interesting dream) where I require a little extra jolt to wake up, I will hear my name called. It is not usually 'someone's" voice, just 'a' voice. Last night, I told myself I wanted to get up at 6:55am. In my sleep, I was slogging through some sort of dream epic (I have a lot of BIG dreams) when I heard a female voice call my name. The voice wasn't attached to any participant in the dream, and played no part in the plot of the dream. It was just an unknown female voice, offscreen (so to speak,) and it uttered my name once, not too loudly, but with a sense of urgency that I knew I should heed. I woke up, rolled over, looked at the clock on my nightstand and it said: 6:55am. Weird.
We are strange creatures. We know very little about our inner workings. It has been said that we operate at only a fraction of our capabilities. I agree. The trick is, of course, how to discover the secrets that allow us to tap into the resources we have, and then to use them wisely. I don't claim to have the answers.
Being able to wake up, either aided or not, is pretty important. Being able to fall asleep is even more important. When I was a teenager, I couldn't fall asleep at night. My mind would race around, bounce about within the confines of my experiences, and each thought and idea would lead to another, then another, until I was so tired that my body simply gave up. I was a wreck. In an attempt at self-preservation, I taught myself to fall asleep. Now, I crawl under the covers, whack my pillow a couple of times to make sure it keeps my neck properly aligned, and I'm gone. It takes me, usually, a few seconds to fall asleep. I am grateful for that, because not being able to sleep is terrible. Ask any insomniac.
My son is having trouble sleeping. I have tried to help him learn how to drop off into slumberland at will, but he is resisting. It doesn't work, he says. Nothing works, son, unless you work at it yourself. Everything worthwhile takes effort. Once the effort has been expended and the results are evident, you will have what you want. Whether that something is waking up when you want, falling asleep when you want, achieving the career you want, or anything else, you will have to exert yourself first. That's just the way things are.