The brain is an alarm clock

Published 10:36 pm Wednesday, July 9, 2008

After coming back to work from the Fourth of July weekend, I found myself a little sluggish and not ready for work. According to the complaining that I have heard from most of my coworkers, they were not ready to come back to work either.

The weekend may have seemed short to some people, not because they had to work an extra day but because of each individual’s brain. After doing some research, I found out that out brains are working alarm clocks. That’s right. All this time we have been spending loads of money on those expensive little machines that tell us what time it is, and we didn’t even need them.

According to some sleep studies done at Auburn and other various universities, the human brain, when kept on a schedule, can actually remember when to wake up. If for instance you work five to six days a week and you get up every morning at the same exact time, you can actually tell your brain to wake you up early. For several years through high school, I found myself waking up at 5 a.m. to make sure I had all of my work done before going to school. After a few weeks of waking up at this time, I found that I would wake up at least five minutes before my alarm clock would ring. I just thought this was from stress at school and work, but according to the sleep study, my brain preset itself to wake up before my alarm clock.

Over this past week, I have been waking up at around 5:30 every morning even if I have gotten to go back to sleep. Over my three-day weekend, I found it hard to sleep past 8 a.m., and that was just no fun because I really wanted to rest a little. By the third day, I finally broke by body in to sleeping late, and then Monday morning I had to get back into the grove of waking up and coming to work. It was this that caused me to feel tired at work and what caused me to look up the reason as to why I couldn’t sleep any more than I did.

The sleep study really helped me in realizing just how much more my brain can do than I give it credit for. I really do wish that someone could have programmed a snooze button so that on vacations and holidays sleeping late and enjoying time off work would be a little easier.

Note: Ashley McCartney is a news writer for The Clanton Advertiser. Her column appears each Thursday.