Biological Clocks/Time Intuition

I have the odd problem of waking up not only a few seconds before my electrical alarm clock goes off, but also I have a tendency of getting up a second before the clock turns 3:33am. This is a non-mechanical clock, it makes no sound when changing digital numbers… How would any classical conditioning allow for a biological clock to be so precise, WITHOUT a stimulus (like that trigger from a mechanical clock) My clock is always set ahead too, different times, so i’m never late… This would suggest the issue is more to do with the NUMBERS?

This happens quite frequently.

Link to column: How come I wake up just before the alarm goes off? – CKDH

I have the same problem. Maybe not to the second, but certainly within minutes.

Maybe your furnace goes off at 3:33 am every other morning.

I often wake up several minutes before my alarm. I’ve thought of a couple related explainations for this:

  1. Most people have a very accurate subconscious internal clock. Rather than being jarred awake by a brash alarm my body wakes me up gently several minutes beforehand.

  2. Your body just knows when to wake up because of that very accurate internal clock.

Welcome to the Straight Dope Message Boards, g_zus et al, we’re gald to have you with us.

When you start a thread, it’s helpful to other readers if you provide a link to the column you are commenting on. This saves search time for other readers and helps keep us all on the same page – the other posters can read Cecil’s column and we’d avoid repetition. No biggie, I’ve added the link for you, and you’ll know for next time. And, as I say, welcome!

Oddly enough, I also often awaken at about 3:30 AM, and have a hard time, about two hours, getting back to sleep. This happened last night. I have found that there is a direct correlation, in my case, with hormone levels. At ovulation, very regular cycles for me, I wake up in the 3:30 AM range. Don’t wake up in the wee hours after that phase. What this seems to say is that circadian/hormonal levels are tied together.

I also wake up about ten minutes before the time my alarm goes off most every day, even if I have the 3:30 wakeup. I’m not a stickler for being on schedule in waking hours, but my body seems pretty regular with this sleep schedule.

Oh, clock used, 18 year (well-made!) old Sony digital clock radio. Very Quiet.

[Slight hijack]How do you other time-sensitive types deal with switching to Daylight Savings Time and back? Leaves me cranky for a day or two until my internal clock resets. Twice a year, just like, er, clockwork.[/Hijack]

In my adolescence I could, upon retiring, tell myself to wake up at such-and-such a time, and I would do so. (Course, being a teenager I didn’t do this too often, preferring sleep.) I later had a mechanical clock/radio that did indeed click one minute before going off and occasionally I would wake up just before the alarm went off.

So far as waking up in the middle of the night goes, I find that I tend to wake up about an hour after going to sleep, but that is more the consequence of a cranky prostate. . . .

I recall reading an interview years ago in which Bob Hope claimed that, after so many years of doing a live radio show, he could always guess the current time within thirty seconds.