Bear Grylls wants you to stop saying “alarm clock” – science says he might be onto something

Written by Amy Beecham

A load of rubbish or a genuinely clever hack? We asked the experts to weigh in on whether we should all be calling our alarms “opportunity clocks”. This is what they said.

The year is nearly over and our energy levels are seriously waning, which means we’re all ears when it comes to any hacks to help us sleep better and wake up easier. Sunrise alarm clocks? We’re listening. Swedish sleep method? Noted. Sleepy saucha yoga? We’ll give it a go. And the latest surprising suggestion has come from none other than TV’s favourite adventurer, Bear Grylls.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Grylls revealed that he has renamed his alarm clock “an opportunity clock” to avoid negative connotations.

Why? You might rightly ask. Well, Grylls claims that beginning the day with positive terminology has both psychological and physiological benefits, as he believes that an object associated with the word “alarm” is not a healthy way to begin each day.

Skeptical? Us too, and even Grylls himself admits that he’s mocked for it. “My family takes the mick out of me a lot for the ‘opportunity clock’, but language is important,” he told the paper. “How we speak to each other and ourselves is important. Words have power. It’s a choice to speak kindly and positively.”

Not convinced? Neither was the internet.

Affirmations, or positive self-talk, is a form of positive thinking that has become increasingly popular in recent years. However, the idea of repeating positive phrases to boost our mindset is not a new thing; reciting positive mantras in Buddhism and Hinduism has an ancient history. But while many swear by affirmations for everything from mental health and physical fitness to even sleep, is there any merit to the practice? 

Is what Grylls is suggesting the nonsense it might sound like, or a genuinely clever way to reframe our early mornings? We asked two experts to weigh in.

Would you try Bear Gryll’s positive alarm clock hack?

“Our language shapes how our inner world interprets the outer and defines our relationships with it,” Abdullah Boulad, sleep expert and founder of The Balance tells Stylist. “Though these changes in language may seem trivial, they can actually have the power to make big perceptive shifts.”

Boulad explains that in cognitive neuroscience, much research has been done on using positive language in order to feel happier and more fulfilled. Indeed, multiple studies have found that our brains are incredibly adaptable and actively thinking positively can help us counteract negative beliefs.

“Whether you are playing sports, learning a skill, creating and maintaining relationships, and even navigating daily life, the use of positive language can improve almost every area of your life. It’s just about being creative about how you use it,” he says.

“Simply changing the name of your alarm clock may make it easier to get out of bed,” agrees Martin Seeley, CEO and sleep expert at MattressNextDay.

“This is because the word ‘alarm’ is negative, with the dictionary stating that it means ‘an anxious awareness of danger’. Combining this with the fact that an alarm clock essentially screams at you at a time when you may be deep in sleep, it’s extremely understandable why so many people feel that they don’t work for them from a mental perspective.”

Seeley even goes a step further than Grylls, suggesting calling itan “early morning reminder” or the “morning starter” – all of which are a lot more positive.

Still not swayed? We can’t blame you. However, if you are still looking for helpful ways to make winter mornings easier, keep reading.

How to make it easier to get out of bed

Make sure your alarm is soothing and calm

“If you’re struggling to wake up in the cold, the last thing you want to do is set a super loud alarm which is going to scare the living daylights out of you in the morning,” says Seeley.

Instead, you should have something calming and relaxing. Lots of alarms have a gradient setting which allows you to set an alarm that builds up gradually, getting louder and louder until you turn it off. This means you get woken up gradually, rather than being bolted awake.

Never press snooze

Tempting as it may be, many studies show that pressing ‘snooze’ can have more of a negative impact on your day than a positive one.

“This is because a five-to-ten-minute snooze time only gives you enough time to go into ‘light sleep’ as you wait to enter the deep sleep state, otherwise known as REM. Your body is, therefore, put into a fight or flight mode, which triggers a response that increases your blood pressure and heartbeat as you wake up, leaving you on high alert. This makes you feel stressed despite it being the start of your day,” Seeley explains.

Try a lighter approach

“Choosing sunrise clocks over a jarring alarm clock can mean that you wake up more gradually and naturally and therefore in a much better mood,” adds Sarah Patel, founder of Teach To Sleep.

“Traditional alarm clocks tend to wake us up with a jolt from deep sleep, which causes a surge in our cortisol levels. This can lead to the effects of sleep inertia, which is the feeling of grogginess, disorientation and drowsiness after waking being enhanced.”

Drink a glass of water for an instant mood boost

According to Seeley, keeping hydrated is not only proven to be energy-boosting, but it can boost your metabolism, too. 

“Even mild dehydration can leave you feeling sleepy and tired, while negatively disrupting your mood. I’d recommend drinking a glass of water as soon as you wake up. After a few days, you’ll notice the energy-boosting benefits and make it part of your automatic morning routine,” he says.

Images: Getty

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