If you’re amazed by coincidentally waking up just before your alarm goes off, you’re not giving your body enough credit. I know it feels like an arbitrary prison of mystery and pain, but your body does have some understanding of what’s going on. It also might hate the alarm clock just as much as you do.
Y’know, there was once a time before alarm clocks, or clocks at all. Even so, people managed to often go to bed around the same time each night, and wake around the same time each morning. They also used to wake up in the middle of the night to bang and eat a snack, but we’ve already covered that. The point, though, is that our bodies are designed to produce hormones that put us to sleep when it gets dark and hormones to wake us up when it becomes light.
This is dictated by our circadian rhythm, the internal process that keeps us in tune with the Earth’s rotation pushing us between day and night. According to Mental Floss, a clump of nerves called the suprachiasmatic nucleus mans the operation, fluctuating our blood pressure, body temperature and even our sense of time to produce our feelings of tiredness and wakefulness.
And believe it or not, your circadian rhythm has a pretty good understanding of your schedule. If you keep an alarm clock, your body will become accustomed to the biological effects of waking up at a particular time. After several weeks of waking up at the exact same time every day, your body may even become overly-efficient, producing the right proteins and hormones necessary to end your sleep before the alarm clock can do it for you.
Notably, your body prefers to wake up gradually, something your alarm clock doesn’t necessarily allow for. By waking you before the alarm, your body avoids the jarring effect of being interrupted by a blaring horn. In essence, your body is actually trying to do you a favor, for once.
As Mental Floss further explains, not waking before your alarm despite it being a fixed part of your routine may indicate that you’re not getting enough sleep. It might also mean that your schedule isn’t consistent enough. Rather than setting your alarm for different times throughout the week, it’s much better to keep your body adjusted to the routine of waking at the same time each day. Eventually, you might even be able to get up at the same time every day without keeping an alarm at all, like some kind of wizard.
So instead of cursing your body for depriving you of those precious last five minutes of sleep, tell it “thank you.” After all, it’s for the best.