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If you have deep sleepers in your home who don’t answer to their alarms clocks or a gentle nudge in the morning, you may be wondering about the best and safest ways to wake them up.

While one method may not be ideal for everyone, there are effective strategies that’ll work for most sleepyheads. This article will walk you through various techniques you can use to gently rouse them from their sleep in the morning.

While it may be tempting to splash a little cold water on a sound sleeper, it’s probably safe to say that most people would appreciate being woken up in a gentler manner.

Here are eight options that may help stir a sleeper in a safe manner.


A 2020 study that compared a standard alarm clock tone to musical sounds found that people preferred to be roused from their sleep by music.

The researchers discovered that music helped reduce the sensation of sleep inertia. This is a state of low mood, low energy, and poor thinking skills right after awakening.

Finding the right song or style of music may be especially helpful to wake up someone who often awakens feeling groggy or annoyed by the beeping sound of their alarm clock.

Wake-up lights

Just as you can program an alarm clock to go off at a certain time, you can buy smart light bulbs that will slowly get brighter and brighter according to the time you set.

By gradually brightening a bedroom, the lights can slowly bring a person out of sleep. It’s much less jarring than suddenly flipping the light switch and filling the room with bright light.

Natural light

If you don’t want to go high-tech, you can always rely on natural light to get going in the morning. Using translucent curtains or cracking the blinds a little will help let in the first rays of sunshine.

Research shows that morning light helps suppress melatonin, the sleep-facilitating hormone. Natural light also increases your serotonin levels, which help you feel alert and awake.


Many people keep their phone near their bed when they sleep. Using it as an alarm makes sense for a few reasons:

  • You can program countless sounds and songs to wake you up, so when you find something that works, you can stick with it.
  • You’re used to responding to your phone when it rings or you get a notification. So when it’s telling you to wake up, you may be more likely to pay attention.
  • It can be easily manipulated to allow you to snooze for an extra few minutes, even though the general rule is to avoid hitting the snooze button in the morning.

If you suffer from insomnia, you might want to put your phone and other technology away at night.

If you’re trying to wake someone up, you can try texting them. People who are wired to respond to a text, even when sleepy, may appreciate a “Good morning!” text from a loved one.

Mental stimulation

For people who enjoy being mentally stimulated, even early in the morning, you may want to consider setting their alarm to wake up to NPR or some other news station. This may help get their attention and snap them out of a sleepy state.

Some alarm apps require you to solve a puzzle or a math problem before you can turn off the alarm.

There’s even an app called Alarmy that enables you to create wake-up challenges to prove that you’re getting out of bed. The alarm won’t shut off until you’ve completed the challenge.

The right scent

The smell of coffee, bacon, or something else enticing from the kitchen may be enough to get a deep sleeper out of bed. Open their bedroom door and let an enticing breakfast scent do the work.

Distant alarm

It’s an old trick, but it still works. Putting an alarm (whether it’s a clock or phone) on the other side of the room will force someone to get up to turn off the alarm.

There are two key factors to ensure that this strategy works. First, the alarm needs to be close and loud enough that it will be heard. Also, it’s important that the person you’re trying to wake doesn’t just climb back into bed after getting up.

Stick to a schedule

One of the best ways to consistently wake up on time is to establish a consistent sleep schedule every day of the week.

A 2015 study found that too much variability in the time you go to bed and the time you wake up can result in insufficient sleep and other poor lifestyle behaviors.

By following a regular sleep-wake schedule, your body’s internal clock can develop a new routine. Over time, this routine may make it easier to fall asleep and wake up at a regular time every day.

A trickier challenge than waking up a sound sleeper is to approach someone who is sleepwalking.

Known clinically as somnambulism, sleepwalking is a condition in which a person can sit up in bed, walk around, eat, or even get in a car and drive. Sleepwalkers may even speak, although what they say may make no sense. Sleepwalking happens in the deep non-rapid eye movement (NREM) stage of sleep.

You may have heard that it’s dangerous to wake a sleepwalker, but that’s not true. Because a sleepwalker may harm themselves or others, it’s important to wake a sleepwalker or at least return them to bed. It should be done gently and safely, however, so as not to startle a sleepwalker or cause an angry outburst.

So, what’s the best approach? First try to gently direct the sleepwalker back to their bed. Do so without touching the person too much as this may trigger an angry reaction. If the sleepwalker awakens on their way back to bed, quietly reassure them that everything is OK and that it’s time for bed.

If you can’t get the person to go back to bed, try to awaken the sleepwalker with a loud noise from a safe distance. You could bang a pot lid or clap your hands. It’s OK to tell them that they were sleepwalking, as the person may be disoriented if they wake up somewhere other than their bed.

Finding the most effective way to wake someone up may take some trial and error, but there are safe ways to rouse a sleepyhead.

Soothing approaches like music, lights that gradually brighten, natural light, and enticing aromas may help some people to snap out of their sleepiness. For others, mental stimulation or being forced to get out of bed to switch off an alarm may be a more effective approach.

Every person responds differently, so be ready to experiment both on yourself and sound sleepers to find the best strategy.