Alarm Clocks affects on the sleep cycle

Does interrupting the sleep cycle with an alarm clock over a lifetime, have any negative effects on the body?

If you’re using it to consistently short yourself on sleep, I’d say yes. If you’re going to bed early enough to get sufficient rest (7-8 hours for msot human beings) and often waking up just before it goes off of your own accord, probably not.

So… how you use it is an important factor to consider.

I understand the 7-8 hour sleep cycle is ideal, but what adult actually consistently gets that much sleep?I normally get 4-5 hours of sleep,and usually wake up minutes before the alarm.If you’re knowledgeable on this subject, what parts of the body would most likely be affected, and how seriously?Thanks

Yeah, you can feel it in your psyche when the thing goes off. If you haven’t slept enough, let’s say for weeks on end–as is almost always my case–it’s the most unnatural, malevolent sound of the day. The fact that you have to suck it in and obey the thing surely must take its toll, one way or the other, in some part or another of our human makeup.

The “ideal” amount of sleep will vary from person to person - some people really do naturally sleep a shorter amount than 7-8 hours if left to themselves, but only about 5% of the population according to a recent bit of research. Most, however, really do need about 8 hours a night for optimum health. Clearly you can get by with less, though it’s not ideal.

As for you implication that few adults get 8 hours… that may well be true. Parents of infants and young children are famously sleep-deprived, for example. However, I have managed to get 7-8 hours most nights for most of my life (not having kids does help) and I can’t help but think that most adults could (aside from parents of young children) but make a choice to put other things before sleep.

Lack of sleep is associated with weight gain, with all the bad consequences that goes along with that such as diabetes and heart disease; depression; and fatigue increases the risk of accidents that can cause all sorts of damage to the body.

On the other hand, using an alarm clock to help regulate an erratic sleep schedule, such as occurs in some sleep disorders, can be beneficial if it makes for a more regular wake/sleep cycle. But that’s not the typical use of the device.

i agree that there is a range of needed sleep for people from about 6 to 10, though i think more on the shorter side, some people even down to 4.

when i used an alarm clock and had a regular sleep cycle and went to sleep with plenty of time i would wake at the amount of sleep time and before the clock, often just minutes before.

if the jarring alarm is a bother in particular there are some gentle alarms, the sound starts out quiet, maybe bursts or pulses of noise as well, and gets louder over a minute or two.

When adjusting to a new time to get up, it takes me a few days to find the right time. I have found certain times more likely to interrupt a dream and that seems to be bad for me in that I feel much less well rested. I will adjust the alarm by a few minutes either ahead or back.

When I am well adjusted to a waking time, I will wake up a few minutes before the alarm, sometimes even if I did not go to sleep as early as I normally would.

I don’t know where I read it, so no cite, but a recent study showed that even if people had slept enough, the sudden noise of the alarm clock caused a tension and perceptible stress in people when waking up. Apparently, our instinct (the reptile part of the brain?) is wired to interpret any sound at night/early morning as “DANGER! ALARM!” which is bad for the body.
And even those clocks that start out with soft bird twitter and get slowly louder were stressful.

The study said that the natural way to wake somebody up was with gradual light increase, as in dawn breaking.

So I looked at the new Philipps light-simulating alarm clock, and holy shit, it costs only 130 Euros! Well, I have to jump in fright at the beep-beep a little longer, I guess, until I find a way to connect a time-controlled power strip with a dimmer-lamp (which usually don’t like energy-saving light bulbs…)

It is my strong opinion that it all depends on the timing of your REM cycles. It is during REM sleep (dreaming) that your pineal gland produces melatonin. (and, as I understand it, this happens best in darkness for some reason.) Melatonin is associated with appetite, sleep cycle regulation, libido, and has a number of beneficial effects on overall health which, taken together, are significant. Cite.

So, if you are being woken by an alarm clock before you have finished producing your melatonin, it can be bad for you. While for most people this is supposed to happen in the middle of the night, for me it happens around dawn, and I feel pretty awful all day if I have to get up before that.

From the studies I’ve heard, the melatonin productin is the reason why any light during sleeping is very harmful. Recent studies show that a brief exposure of 5 min. to blue-wight light (as from energy-saving bulbs) before you go to bed - typically, the bathroom lights while you brush your teeth - can upset your body rhythm by up to 1 1/2 hrs and delay getting to sleep proper. So the doctors recommend to switch blue-white bulbs with yellow-white lights in the areas before going to bed.

But it needs to be clarified whether the question is:
Being waken up artifically, regardless of your sleep cycle, even if you shorten your necessary hours of sleep, is bad?
Because most studies I know of say that while the amount of sleep varies from each person genetically*, each night you sleep less than the required amount is bad for your body. Doctors say you can never catch up on lost sleep in regards to benefit/ damage to your body.
or is the question:
if you have your full 8/6/4 hours of sleep, and a regular rhythm, so you will likely wake up around the right time anyway, but use an alarm clock to be on the safe side and on time for your job (which is how it should be - if you go to bed each day the same time, and get up the same time, your body quickly gets used to it, and you start to wake up by yourself around that time, because your sleep cycle adapts**) - how damaging is an alarm clock then?

  • One study showed that some people are genetically early risers - nightingales - and other are late-risers - owls - as seen on their body temps. Around 6 am IIRC, the body temp. for a nightingale will rise in preparation for getting up at 7. For an owl, the body temp will drop slightly for another round of sleeping and gettin up at 8.

** In order to find out what’s best for you personally, you need about two weeks with a dark room ( no light, no noises, no alarm clock), go to bed say 10 pm every night and watch how long you sleep by yourself - 8 or 6 hrs. - so you wake up naturally feeling rested.
Once you know your personal sleep length, you work backward from the starting point, counting in 45 min. increments, because that’s how long one complete cycle lasts.
That’s also why doctors recommend to take a nap of either 45 min. or 90 min, but not 60 min - that nap interrupts the second sleep cycle, and you will feel more tired.
Also for many elder people, they find out that they can sleep only say 4 hrs in the night, plus a long nap in the afternoon. If you can do that (without work etc. interfering) and regularly, that’s also okay, because on the whole you’re still getting all your sleep.