Nearly everyone has experienced that disorienting, panicky feeling of waking up before your alarm clock. You have a small heart attack as you jump out of bed—positive that you overslept again—only to realize your alarm won’t go off for another five minutes. Groan. That’s not enough time to fall back asleep, but too much time to consider getting out of bed, either. What gives?
You can thank your body’s internal clock for the early wake-up call, and it’s “just as good, if not better, than the contraption shrieking atop your nightstand,” according to Mental Floss.
If you maintain a diligent sleep routine, your circadian rhythm behaves accordingly, following a predictable daily sleep-and-wake pattern. It will use a protein called PER, which regulates your blood pressure and heart rate as well as your sleep cycle, to make you feel sleepy when bedtime approaches. (These foods can also help you fall asleep.) And it does something similar for the mornings, too.
As it turns out, “your body hates your alarm clock,” Mental Floss writes. “It’s jarring. It’s stressful.”
So what does it do? To avoid having its beauty sleep interrupted by your alarm, your body gets ahead on its own waking process, instead. (By the way, if you hate waking up in the morning, you’re using the wrong alarm clock.) About an hour before you are supposed to wake up, your body releases stress hormones like cortisol to pull you out of your deep sleep. That way, you’ll wake up slowly, rather than all at once with the sound of your alarm.
To start making the most of every minute of your snooze time, try these doctor-approved secrets to better sleep. Or you can just start setting your alarm five minutes earlier.