Why raise an alarm?

Updated: May 13, 2019, 07:47 IST | Karishma Kuenzang

An increasing number of Mumbaikars are opting to wake up organically, minus the morning alarm. Should you be part of the tribe?

Why raise an alarm?

The process of waking up is a biological one. First, the sense of smell kicks in; it could be the whiff of whatever your mother is whipping up in the kitchen. Then, motion sets in with the wriggling of hands or legs. Next, there is a taking in of all the sounds around, followed by opening the eyes. Now, imagine waking up to a jarring alarm that triggers your sense of hearing first, breaking this natural cycle. It pushes the brain right into a flight or fight first mode; messing with the body's internal clock.

This is something that stand-up comedian Rohan Joshi recently pointed out when he posted about opting for a softer alarm tune. "I changed the alarm on my phone from a loud, blaring sound to a soothing one. The earlier tune was so jarring and hostile that I would wake up startled, with my heart pounding, wondering what had exploded. And then I would just carry that racing pulse and pounding heart with me into the first few hours of my day," he said.

Deval Doshi and Anurag Gupta
Deval Doshi and Anurag Gupta

It's possibly why many of us tend to feel afraid when we wake up. "When we are jolted out of sleep, we aren't organically processing information, which is crucial to prevent and handle anxiety. Our brain doesn't trust its senses, and this anxiety leads to obesity and stress-related ailments," explains Dr Deval Doshi, sleep therapist.

Kill anxiety
He doesn't snooze his alarm five times in the morning and doesn't believe in taking power naps. This might sound implausible to anyone who lives from deadline to deadine. But 35-year-old Anurag Gupta, a chartered accountant who also runs a PR agency — both demanding fields — has been waking up without an alarm for the last eight years. And he claims his body clock is more reliable than all devices, for he's up any time between 6.30 am and 7 am every day.

Nishank Mehta and Poorva Prabhu
Nishank Mehta and Poorva Prabhu

It started when he couldn't figure the alarm settings on his new phone. So, he had to put up with a jarring one for an entire week. "I woke up with palpitations, and realised that I was starting the day on an anxious note, which led to me being in a fire-fighting mode and overreacting all day," says Gupta, who also noticed that the alarm feature that reminds you how much time you have until you need to wake up, was also causing anxiety and preventing him from falling asleep with ease.

"There was a constant countdown in my head. So, I took a conscious call to not use an alarm, which has helped me become calmer and address issues in a sound and log­i­cal manner," explains Gupta. And though it wasn't easy to start with, Gupta claims it has helped him deal with a life-long battle with anxiety, induced by his professional commitments. "It took me 10 years to clear my CA. And the multiple attempts came with stress and frustration. I even opted for therapy. I also suffered from insomnia for two years," reveals Gupta.

Wake up to health
For Juhu resident Nishank Mehta, who travels extensively for work in the diamond industry, it's become a norm to wake up between 5.30 am and 7 am, which he claims is the result of his habit of having a conversation with his body every night. "Waking up with alarms was giving me headaches. I also wouldn't feel fresh or rested, irrespective of how much I had slept," says Mehta. He got the push to give up on setting an alarm when he was battling hypertension and weight issues. So, he first tried waking up early and heading to the gym and meditating. But it wasn't really helping. "I thought, there had to be a gentler way to wake up in the morning. So, I decided to have a dialogue with my body before going to sleep — a technique I stumbled across online," he reveals.

"I told my body that I would listen to its needs — if I woke up at 5.30 am, I would do yoga or work out. And it was okay if I woke up at 8 am because that meant the body needs rest," the 39-year-old explains. Today, he weighs 93 kgs instead of 103 kgs. "It's crucial to respect your body's circadian rhythm. The body has a memory and energy of its own. When you give your body what it needs and respect it, it helps you deal with hypochondria, hypertension and regulate your weight," Dr Doshi explains.

Clear-headed call
It's been a few months since 23-year-old Poorva Prabhu quit her hectic job at a management consultancy. And though while she was working, an alarm was necessary, she has now found a way of staying clear-headed and feeling calm all day. "Earlier, I used to wake up with an alarm at 7.30 am, but since I've stopped the practice, I'm up by 7.15 every morning," Prabhu says. And it no longer takes 40 minutes for her brain to kick-start. "Earlier, I would take some time to get level headed. But now, everything is coherent within 10 minutes," says the Andheri resident. "Waking up with an alarm evokes a chemical reaction in your body. But when you wake up naturally, your mind and body wake up in sync," Dr Doshi explains.

Celebs who don't use alarms

Jennifer Lopez and Justin Chambers
Jennifer Lopez and Justin Chambers

How to get started
. Darkness plays a crucial role in your sleep qualtiy and your body clock. Make sure your home doesn't have bright lights on till late.
. Avoid a heavy dinner for sound sleep, the lack of which would reult in oversleeping.
. Ease into the routine with quieter evenings.
. Make sure you have a sleep routine you stick to. Go to bed by a certain time every day.
£ For the first few days, get your roommate or family member to wake you up.

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