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So You Haven't Any Alarm Clock?

From American Horologist magazine, March, 1945

So You Haven't Any Alarm Clock? 
By Louise Hannah Kohr

Science says you can train your brain to get you up on time. And a brain doesn't need to be wound. 

The shortage of alarm clocks continues. What is to rouse the war weary worker from his oh-so-comfort able bed in the wee small hours of the too-short night? Wholesalers are extremely pessimistic on the possibility that alarm clocks to meet the demand will be issued. Only a few dozen government-issue timepieces for priority distribution loom in the near future.

But it needn't bother you. You don't need a clock. The human mind can be trained to do the work of the most competent alarm clock. It requires no winding, only a little concentrated "setting" at the bed-time hour. It will tick away like a majestic old Seth Thomas while you're deep in the sleep needed to repair the ravages of the war weary day, and at the appointed hour will trick your conscious mind into complete wakefulness.

Dr. Stevenson Smith of the psychology department of the University of Washington has been talked into this admission. Usually shy of so controversial a subject, the professor was finally cornered in to an admission that there is, indeed, considerable scientific support for the theory that the human mind can be trained to function like an alarm clock.

"I shudder to think what you will do with this admission," said the professor, shuddering, "and I want to remind you that I have only one reputation to maintain and I want very much to keep it intact on this campus. However, I must confess and against my better judgment, I must disclose that I do find several experiments' have been run by psychologists along this line." "J. H. Elder of the University of Virginia has done some work on this subject-you may see for yourself in the Psychological Bulletin for October, 1941, page 693, and so has Professor K. T. Omwake, writing in the Journal of Applied Psychology in 1938. I hope you will resist the temptation to make a play of words upon Miss Omwake's name.

"Miss Omwake started with a group of twenty girl students, of whom ten showed no aptitude whatever. Of the remaining ten she found 49 per cent could awaken themselves within thirty minutes of an assigned hour, 30 per cent within fifteen minutes, and 10 per cent exactly on the hour.

I am doing the wrong thing in telling you this, I am sure, but it appears that success in awakening one's self is more pronounced after 4:30 in the morning.

"Of course, the degree to which a person is rested acts a s a cue to awakening, and the rhythm of the blood pressure undoubtedly enters into it. You may also say, if you're very careful to quote me exactly, that time estimates are more accurate while asleep than awake. But don't ask me why.

"On the other side of the picture, it is suggested by experiment that a conscious effort to awaken at an appointed time disturbs sleep. How ever, if a person intends to arise at a certain hour every morning it is likely he might train himself to do so without the aid of an alarm clock." Purely in the interest of scientific experimentation why don't you wind yourself up tonight and see how close you can come to awakening at an assigned hour, say five o'clock in the morning?

But don't be writing Dr. Smith about the success of your experiment. He is going to be in trouble enough.



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