Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Snooze, You Lose

This morning started 37 minutes later than planned.  All because of that alluring little button on my alarm clock.  You know the one.  Apparently, many of us have a love/hate relationship with the little devil.  

Some refer to it as an addiction, as in this clever little ad for Ugly Mug Coffee.  (And, by the way, you can see several other arch gems from Ugly Mug's campaign, slamming morning and pushing caffeine as the solution, at The Inspiration Room.  They're worth a look.)  

The t-shirt shown here also illustrates this approach, with its not too subtle gambling allusion.

People younger than I, including my daughter, are members of a cohort some have dubbed "the snooze button generation."  They even have their own website

Fifteen minutes of extensive research conducted on the internet just now revealed that we have Lew Wallace, long-gone Territorial Governor of New Mexico, Civil War Union General, and author of Ben Hur, to thank for the snooze button.  Wallace inspired this contribution to's collection of user submitted jokes:
I want to kick the guy who invented the snooze button...then five minutes later, I'll kick him again.
Wallace is vilified on the self-identified Alarm Clock Blog at, in a post entitled "The History of Snooze Clocks, and Why They Are Evil." 

But really, is it all his fault?  Might we want to take a modicum of responsibility for continuing to, like Skinner's pigeons, hammer away at that tiny key?  

I uncovered two avenues to change, in my cursory discovery process, in case you are persuaded that, as a very informative New York Times article by Monica Heaner puts it, [the] "Snooze Alarm Takes Its Toll on a Nation."

One is this 8 "step" program outlined in WikiHow's article on "How to Stop Hitting the Snooze Button."
  1. Set a timer so that a bright light turns on simultaneously with your alarm. When the light hits your face, you'll be less likely to fall asleep, even if you keep your eyes closed.
  2. Consider setting an outdoor-rated timer which turns a space heater on in your bedroom, for about an hour before you want to wake up. Waking up to temperature stimulus is much gentler on your neurovascular system, and you may find that you'll even want to bounce out of bed and start your day under extra-warm conditions.
  3. If you drink coffee, get a coffee pot with a timer. Prepare it before going to bed, set it for 30 minutes before your alarm and not only will your coffee be ready when you get up, the smell of the freshly brewed coffee may help you to get out of bed.
  4. Put your alarm clock on the other side of the room. You have no choice but to answer it, and before you know it, you will be out of your bed. Works best if you share your home with others so you must answer to avoid annoying them.
  5. Set a second alarm on your cell phone, computer, another alarm clock, or whatever you can hear from wherever you need to put it.  Place the other alarm by your coffee pot, in the bathroom, downstairs, in the hall, or whatever works in your home.  Then set it for 5 minutes after the first alarm on your regular alarm clock.  When you wake up, you will know that you need to go and shut off the second alarm, before it also goes off.
  6. If all else fails, lock the alarm clock in a box with a combination lock and attach the internal clock speaker to an external stereo speaker. That way you’ll have to turn on the light and work out the combination before you can turn it off.
  7. Consider super gluing your snooze button in order to make it impossible to use. Be careful not to destroy your alarm clock though! (May have unintended effect of encouraging use of the button that completely turns off the alarm)
  8. Setting your alarm for the last possible second before you have to scramble to get to work (or whatever) can help break the snooze habit.
The other change approach involves a more elaborate technological fix, developed by MIT's media lab.  According to Squidoo, it works like this:
when a sleeper presses the snooze, the clock retracts into hiding. . . thus making the sleeper wake up and look for the clock to stop the next alarm.  
I'm not sure if this is the same device, also referred to by Squido, being marketed as "Clocky Alarm Clock on Wheels," which is described this way at Amazon:  

A great alternative to the average screaming wakeup call, the Clocky alarm clock from the folks at Nanda Home Inc. combines customizable snooze and playful mobility to get you out of bed on time. Built on wheels, the little unit emits an R2D2-style beeping pattern whenever you set it to first sound off. Tailor the snooze feature for between 0 and 9 minutes, after which Clocky will beep again, roll off the nightstand, and start scooting out of reach. To turn it off, the reluctant riser has to get out of bed and chase it down, improving the odds of then staying awake. Sturdily built with a cute chunky shape, Clocky can survive a drop of up to 3 feet, travels on low carpet or hard flooring, and includes a backlit night display for easy reading. The wheel feature can also be disabled, if desired.  [emphasis mine]

I suppose those of us truly set on clinging to sleep could still return to slumber after such a workout, but at least we would have burned a few calories in the process.  

My real concern, though, is for the tendency, which I admit to, that has us hitting various snooze buttons on life, trying to delay the inevitable, or even the presumably desired changes and commitments.  Not sure what to invent for that, but I'll take that up later.  When I'm ready.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Mary,

    Thanks very much for referring to the our blog post on the subject of Snooze Buttons - we hate 'em!

    Users of our various online alarm clocks have requested that we add a snooze button feature several times, but we keep deciding that - for the good of humanity - we shouldn't go there.

    What's the point of setting an alarm if you can ignore it? Kind of contradictory, in our opinion...

    Help keep the world productive: just say "NO" to the Evil Snooze Button Brigade!

    Please, join our campaign today ;)