On Your Mind

How I Finally Got My Sleep Back – The Alarm Clock Hack

By Gabi Powell

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My momma told me, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all,”…but I can’t not talk smack about Daylight Savings Time (I think even Mom would agree with me here). Every March, somehow, a one-hour change manages to shake up an entire sleeping ecosystem.

No one’s sleep hygiene will go untouched, which makes for the quintessential time to spring-clean your routine. As a light-sleeping, eight-hours-a-night-or-bust kind of gal, I’ve got an army of sleep toys – white noise, earplugs, weighted blanket. But adding all those snooze accessories did little to improve my zzz’s if I didn’t subtract *the* thing impairing it – my phone.

I’m not about to sell you on an app to optimize sleep or shame you for screen time. I’m here to share a simple solution that helped get my sleep back on track: swapping my bedside phone for a digital alarm clock.

A few years ago, I made the switch after a particularly dry spell of quality sleep. Sleep-deprived and desperate, I took action – bought myself a clock and banned my phone from my bedroom. And similar to mental health walks, I found the practice to be life-changing magic. Here’s what happened:


I created a nightly routine.

One hour before I plan to hit the hay, phone meets charger, initiating my countdown to bed. This little ritual gives me time to untether my attention from screens and unwind with mindful activity. For me, that’s reading with my legs up the wall. For you, maybe journaling, coloring, stretching – find a pre-bed ritual that readies you for rest.


I stuck to my bedtime.

You know the drill. You’re in bed, setting the alarm, an IG notification pops up, you click, you scroll – honey, you’re gone, down the rabbit hole of swipes and likes for an hour. By creating my room to be a no-phone zone, I wave it goodnight and make good on my intention to go to sleep.


I took my mornings back.

Notifications do not slam me awake now that a barrier sits between me and the inboxes and unread texts. Plus, unlike my phone, an alarm clock has nothing to offer me by staying in bed, so I don’t delay the getting-up process to start my morning.

In an increasingly online world, I keep finding an increasing need to create boundaries between my online and offline worlds. The game-changing shift in upping my sleep hygiene came in the form of a digital alarm clock. Ultimately, hacking my shuteye came down to being mindful of the devices I use, recognizing what aids my sleep, and creating boundaries that preserve my routine. So as Daylight Savings arrives, with it’s too-dark a.m.s and light-lingering p.m.s, here’s to you, Betties — getting those zzz’s back and taking back your morning.


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