waking just before the alarm

My alarm is set for 7:00 AM. Almost every morning I awake without the alarm, at exactly 6:59.

How does that work?

Follow up: If my body is able to keep such precise time while I’m sleeping, why can’t it do it when I’m awake? Many days, I could guess at the time and be off by hours.

Science says that it does not work and that it is an illusion because the processes that could lead to a very precise timer require some unknown abilities. OTOH, there are many people and many dopers, including me, that know that it can be done consistently from personal experience. The old line was that clocks made a small sound before they gave an alarm but that doesn’t fly in the digital era. I think Uncle Cecil did an old column on this that didn’t sound right?

I rarely use an alarm. Only for extra important things just to be sure. Generally I can decide what time I want to get up, glance at the clock before sleeping and will usually wake up at the designated time.

ETA: During the day I can’t estimate time for shit.

He did. And there is also this article in Psycology Today which says:

I had one small travel clock which did this, one second in advance. The fucker. I ended up personifying it, the bastard.

I always wake up before my alarm and I absolutely hate it. I normally wake up about 10 mintues before. However, when I forget to set my alarm I wake up on my own but LATE! How is this possible?? I have no idea, but I tell you that it happens!

I also like when I wake up and look at the clock thinking it’s about time for my alarm to go off and see that I have another hour left to sleep. For me that is just a wonderful surprise.

Reminds me of Salamano in The Stranger.

I like those nights that seem to go on forever with mulitiple instances of what you describe – every hour or two waking up and being absolutely certain it must be wake-up time but it turns out to be somewhere in the middle of the night once again. Very rare but priceless.

This happens to me also, Sanders, even when I used to work second and third shifts. Nothing circadian about it, IMO. Still happens now, the only exception being if I’ve been drinking (way) too much the night before, but those days are few and far between for me now. I’ve never understood it, so I can’t help with an answer for you, but it appears (from the comments so far) that there are quite a few folks with the same ‘condition’. I’ve mostly found it useful rather than annoying.

My dad told me years ago that he’s the same way. Even when he was in the army, he’d wake up a minute or so before the rest of his barracks, even if he was dog-tired the day before. No clocks. He did mention this as being useful (at the time), because he got a jump on rousing from sleep before being forcibly woken up.

Oh–also, I really suck at telling time during the day as well. Must be a package deal…

See, now I’ve always thought it was your subconscious mind, trying to avoid the nastiness of the blaring alarm. I was also told that if this happens to you it’s a pretty good indicator that you probably have the ability to wake up at will. That’s how I took to doing it.

I don’t use an alarm, just tell myself what time I want to be up and wake up at that time. Times of drunkeness, jet lag, staying up to an unGodly hour are excepted, of course. If it’s something really important I"ll set an alarm but rarely need it, just a back up.

I never considered it was any of the things mentioned in this thread. Now I want to know how it works too!

I wake up at the same time every day +/- 10 minutes, without using an alarm clock. I only use an alarm if I must wake up particularly early, or if I travel to a different time zone.

One of our dogs is insistant about getting her breakfast on time, so this serves as a backup, but it is not uncommon for her to oversleep, and not realize it is breakfast time until she hears me stirring.

I find that it is easy to get out of bed when I wake on my own like this, but it is often difficult if something (alarm or dog) wakes me. My guess is that I am ready to wake at some point in the REM / deep sleep cycles, and my body knows when that is, but the dog and the alarm clock do not.

I have had similar experiences to those above but with a twist that may hold answers. I started using a CPAP device for sleep apnea about 18 months ago. Since then, I no longer wake up right before the alarm.