Hearing a beep or buzz as the first thing to bring you out of your sleep is the most unpleasant sound to start your day with. So in an effort to start my day off a bit more peacefully, I invested in an alarm with a CD player built in. I then proceeded to stick one of my favorite albums in there, and went to sleep knowing I would be waking up to one of my favorite songs.
This was pretty nice the first day, and even the second day. By the end of the month, I felt like I was in the movie Groundhog Day and I grew to hate the song. Since I didn’t want to end up hating any of my favorite songs just for the cheap payoff of waking up slightly better, I rethought my plan.
Next, I invested in an alarm clock that had nature sounds built in. What could be more relaxing than waking up to the sounds of waves, or a lake, or even birds chirping?
For the first few months of this new system, I was thrilled with it. I woke up every day with a smile on my face and felt great about my new technique. Then, suddenly, the whole plan backfired. I began to hate the sounds of the ocean, and a long list of other sounds that most people would find soothing.
I had completely conditioned myself to associate these sounds with the unpleasant feeling of being disturbed while trying to sleep. This association was drilled so deeply into my subconscious that I now cringe and feel anxious when I hear these sounds in real life.
It’s a bizarre feeling, but it has led me to a final conclusion:
There’s no such thing as a peaceful alarm clock.
Whatever sound is waking you up will slowly, subconsciously associate itself with feelings of anxiety and turn the sound from calming to clamoring. I hate a bunch of songs now, and I cringe at the sound of waves, but I definitely learned my lesson.