Sleeping Through The Alarm

We Pay A Price For Not Paying Attention

I’m not a morning person. Never was. And there’s no mystery as to why: I like to stay up late, usually not getting to sleep till well past midnight. That means that waking up early, while often necessary, is rarely something I look forward to. All my life I’ve had to rely on an alarm clock to get me going in the morning.

When I was in my teens –- long before smart phones with built-in alarms, optional ring tones and reminder alerts – I bought a basic, no-frills alarm clock. It had a cord that plugged into the wall, old-style numbers that circled its face, and a rapid-fire clanging sound that would go off every morning, jarring me out of my blissful sleep and into a shockingly vivid state of wide-awakeness.

That assault on my senses was effective in waking me up, but it was an extremely unpleasant way to greet the day. 

It didn’t take long for me to realize that for the sake of my health, happiness and sanity, the clock had to go. Its replacement was a fancy, high-end version—one with a gentle, whisper-like chime designed to gently rouse me from my sleep. It was great! I loved it!

Only one problem: Because of its subtlety, I would often just ignore it, roll over and go back to sleep. Of course, there were consequences for this: I was frequently late getting up, late eating breakfast and late to school, all because I didn’t pay attention to what the alarm was telling me.

Self-Defense Requires Heeding the Alarm

Have you ever been in a situation that just didn’t feel right?

You knew that something was off, but you couldn’t quite put your finger on why. Maybe it was just a sensation you got — a queasiness in the pit of your stomach. Or a funny feeling that triggered a voice in the back of your head saying, “Something isn’t right, here.”

These are survival signals. They are messages sent from your brain, with the goal of alerting you to danger and keeping you safe. And like the sound of an alarm clock, they can come in different forms – some loud and blaring, others more muted and subtle.

Whatever their volume or tone, you must remember that they are coming to you from the part of your brain that has your best interest at heart, and therefore should never be dismissed out of hand.

Unfortunately, many people, when faced with a threatening situation, ignore the warning signs. Instead of honoring those feelings, they brush them aside, only to find themselves in a bad situation that otherwise could have been avoided.

I don’t want you to make the same mistake. So here is what to do when those alarm bells start ringing…

1. Recognize. Learn to recognize these feelings for what they are: warning signals sent from your SUBCONSCIOUS mind, alerting you to the possibility of danger.

2. Acknowledge. Never doubt, dismiss or ignore these signals. Instead, heighten your awareness to what’s going on around you. Become more alert and seek to identify the threat that is causing your concern. Force yourself into vivid wide-awakeness.

3. Act. If there is something going on that seems unsafe, don’t opt for complacency. Take whatever precautions or defensive steps necessary to keep yourself safe.

Final Thoughts

Danger makes us uncomfortable; it’s natural to want to push it aside or pretend it’s not there.

But doing this when the alarms are sounding is never a good strategy. 

Instead, remember that in uncertain situations, your first and best line of defense against danger is listening to the messages your body is sending you. And, the worst thing you can do is roll over and go back to sleep.