A lot of successful people seem to have incredibly punishing morning routines. I enjoy mornings naturally, but for years I also tried to pack them with achievements. I’d wake up at 6am to swim or run before work, arriving at the office early and eating breakfast there. It felt good in some ways: I got lots of exercise and a burst of energy right away.
Then I met my partner, David, who woke up every morning at exactly 8am—without an alarm. As couples’ habits tend to converge, I got into his routine, too, and realized just how jolting and anxious alarms were as a way to start my day.
Alarms that jerk you out of deep sleep aren’t good for your health. The grogginess that comes with being rudely awakened is called sleep inertia. It impairs your mental function and lasts longer in people who have been sleep-deprived or woken from deep sleep. Messing up your internal clock has also been linked with obesity. If nothing else, it makes the first moment of every day an unwelcome one.