How To Not Sleep Through Your Alarm

Want to learn how not to sleep through your alarm? Stellar Sleep discusses why it may happen and what you can do to stop it.

Some people can set five alarms every morning and manage to sleep through them all, while others will wake up on their own before their first alarm even has a chance to go off. 

If you’re constantly running late and starting your day with panic instead of a sense of relaxation, we have a few ways to adjust your routine so you don’t sleep through your alarm. You’ll be amazed at what a difference small changes can make!

What Causes Trouble Waking Up?

No one says waking up is easy — for many, it might feel like the hardest part of your day. Trouble waking up is most frequently tied to a unique phase of the sleep-wake cycle called sleep inertia, which exists between being asleep and awake. 

Sleep inertia is the specific feeling of grogginess you experience right after waking up, and too much sleep inertia can impact your ability to get up and move, inspiring you to hit that snooze button again (or just sleep through your alarm entirely). 

What leads to a longer sleep inertia period? The direct cause is the quality of the rest of your sleep. If you’re sleeping well at night — and getting at least seven to nine hours of sleep — you’re generally far less likely to have difficulty in the morning. However, if you struggle to get high-quality sleep, you may have a much harder time waking up. 

How Can You Not Sleep Through Your Alarm?

Trouble waking up is frustrating and can lead to a bad start to the day — but what can you do to change it? We have four tips that you can put in place to get back on track, get better sleep, and wake up on time feeling well-rested and refreshed.

Set a Sleep Schedule

A consistent, supportive sleep routine is one of the best ways to get regular, high-quality sleep that doesn’t leave you feeling as groggy in the morning. There’s no one right way to design a sleep schedule… as long as it’s one that you can stick to. 

When working on starting a new sleep schedule, it’s important to stick with it (yes, even on weekends and holidays). Eventually, your sleep schedule will become an easy habit for your body, and you’ll be able to slip into — and stay in — deep, quality sleep. 

Manage Your Stress

Psychological factors can significantly impact your quality of sleep, as well. Everyone has had nights where they’ve found themselves lying awake worrying about their day ahead. When you have a higher-than-average stress level, it’s important to find ways to manage it to get better rest. 

Drinking hot tea, practicing breathing techniques, and meditation can all help ease feelings of stress and support a healthy emotional state.

Create an Optimal Sleep Environment

Your physical sleeping environment can also impact the sleep you get. Creating a supportive sleep environment aims to minimize the distractions that will keep or wake you up at night. This includes room temperature, bed comfort, and ambient noise.

If your room is too hot or cold, your sheets are scratchy, or your mattress is uncomfortable, it will keep you from getting into a deep sleep for your body to rest and recover. 

Move Your Alarm Clock

It can be just as disruptive for your sleep to hit the snooze button ten times as it is to sleep through your alarm in the first place. Often, this is because your alarm clock is located on your bedside table or your phone — both easily reachable places that don’t require you to wake up fully.

Try to reposition your alarm clock across the room so you have to get out of bed to turn it off. Even just the action of having to get vertical to address your alarm can give you the motivation to stay awake instead of hitting snooze and going right back to sleep. 

Changing your alarms so they use new sounds every time can also help, as your body may adjust to the usual sound of your alarm clock and make it less jarring.

Find the Root Cause

Difficulty waking up and sleep inertia can be tricky to manage, but they don’t happen all on their own. In almost every case, a root cause is likely triggering your difficulty waking up. 

Working with a professional trained in the psychological factors that can affect your sleep, like a cognitive behavioral therapist specializing in insomnia (a CBT-I coach), can help you determine what is holding you back from getting your best sleep. From there, you can craft a customized plan to address it. 

When Should You See a Professional?

There’s no “right” answer for when you should see a professional — but if your sleep issues are impacting your quality of life, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with a sleep professional. 

Don’t suffer through sleep issues on your own, especially if you believe there may be a physical trigger. Seeking the right help can be life-changing. 

The Bottom Line

Stop sleeping through your alarm by identifying the factors that may be causing you to have difficulty waking up. These problems are often related to your general sleep quality. 

Stellar Sleep’s free sleep quiz can help you look more closely at those factors, and a CBT-I coach can help you make the changes necessary to get you to your best sleep — and easiest wake-up.


Waking up is the hardest thing I do all day: Sleep inertia and sleep drunkenness | PMC

Sleep inertia: current insights | PubMed

Time to wake up: reactive countermeasures to sleep inertia | PMC

Nighttime temperature and human sleep loss in a changing climate | PMC

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