Blog
Stories of Sound
and Sleep:

Midwinter Days

  • Vanessa Kauffman Zimmerly

On Finding Meaning in Winter: There’s a lot to love about winter, if you’re looking for it.

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Waking up to the Power of Naps

  • Vanessa Kauffman Zimmerly

There are precious few things you can do in your life that will have a greater positive impact on your health, mood, and longevity on Earth than sleep—and not all of it has to happen at night. If your energy wanes and you find yourself dreaming of nodding off soon after lunch, rest assured. You’re not the only one with sleep on the brain.

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Rewrap the Gift

  • Vanessa Kauffman Zimmerly

Our holiday traditions around giving and receiving are due for a redux. Here are our tips.

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How Do You Sleep at Night?

  • Vanessa Kauffman Zimmerly

Your chronotype determines when and how well you sleep, and much about how you feel while awake—but few people know what theirs is, or how to live in harmony with it.

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OneClock Reads: Super Normal

  • Vanessa Kauffman Zimmerly

In Super Normal: Sensations of the Ordinary designers Jasper Morrison and Naoto Fakasawa draw our attention to the phenomenon of everyday objects.

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Get Up!

  • Vanessa Kauffman Zimmerly

Tune your body and mind with some Valentine’s Day morning sex. Or, why we recommend getting down while waking up.

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Fitter, Happier, More Productive?

  • Vanessa Kauffman Zimmerly

The near constant use of technology in contemporary life can be overwhelming, affecting our health and relationships. Use a less-is-more approach to find physical, mental, and emotional balance in a world dominated by devices.

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Buy Nothing, Sleep In / Thoughts on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

  • Vanessa Kauffman Zimmerly

As the Black Friday alarm rings at its early hour, we invite you to make a new ritual of sleeping in. And then, once you wake up? Go sit and have coffee with your mom, dad, kids, neighbor, or dog. Watch the sun travel across the kitchen window. Appreciate. Connect. Make it a thing.

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In Your Dreams

  • Vanessa Kauffman Zimmerly

Humans spend several years dreaming, yet this phenomenon remains mysterious in both purpose and meaning.

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A New Way for the New Year

  • Vanessa Kauffman Zimmerly

It’s that time again! The New Year invites us to set intentions for self-improvement and change. Here’s how you can best prepare for a successful refresh.

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The Snooze Button is your Frenemy

  • Jamie Kripke

If you find the idea of quitting the Snooze button intimidating, look at it this way: Snoozing does not equal sleeping. Snoozing is a sad, stressful imitation of real sleep.

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Scaring Yourself Awake

  • Jamie Kripke

From the adrenal gland’s point of view, there’s no difference between the shock of that blaring alarm and the sight of an incoming tsunami. And why would you want to start your day like that?

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A Brief History of Alarm Clocks

  • Jamie Kripke

It seems clear that the need for alarm clocks will never go away. But if the 1787 version of the U.S. Constitution can be amended 27 times, can’t we evolve our alarm clocks, too?

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Product Before Price

  • Jamie Kripke

We set out to make exactly what we wanted, not what the market wanted. The price is what it is because that’s where the price ended up once we'd designed the clock we wanted.

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Scaring Yourself Awake

If you’ve heard about cortisol, you might associate it with high stress and poor health. In fact, cortisol is a naturally-occurring hormone produced by the adrenal gland that helps regulate blood sugar and our metabolism. In synthetic form, it’s called hydrocortisone—a medication with many helpful and healing properties. But you’ve probably also heard of the concept of Too Much of a Good Thing. That’s cortisol, too.

It’s normal for our bodies to increase production of cortisol in the early hours of the day, when we’re first waking up and getting started. Cortisol is one of the hormones that helps us do what we need to do. But research has shown that variations in the ways we wake up can have a big impact on the level of cortisone out bodies produce. And if they produce too much cortisol, our mood, stress levels, and general health may suffer.

Cortisol is part of the human “fight or flight” response to perceived danger. When we’re shocked or surprised by something—a loud noise, a bright light, a jaguar chasing us through the jungle—our bodies are flooded with cortisol in response. This is known as a “cortisol dump.” If you spend the next hour running through the trees to evade a predator, you’ll need that cortisol to keep you going.

But if your next hour is spent, say, brushing your teeth, drinking coffee, and making sure the kids remember to wear their jackets, that cortisol has nowhere to go. Eventually your hormone levels will return to normal. But chronic cortisol-provoking events (a.k.a., stress) can be a real source of poor health outcomes.

The Mayo Clinic explains it this way: “The long-term activation of the stress-response system and the overexposure to cortisol … can disrupt almost all your body's processes.” Some of the health issues the Mayo Clinic correlates to high cortisol levels include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Digestive problems
  • Headaches
  • Heart disease
  • Sleep problems
  • Weight gain
  • Memory and concentration impairment

Among the many things that can cause a cortisol spike (a car braking suddenly in front of us, a jump scare in a horror movie) is one that many people willingly expose themselves to every day: a loud, obnoxious alarm to wake us up. From the adrenal gland’s point of view, there’s no difference between the shock of that blaring alarm and the sight of an incoming tsunami. And why would you want to start your day like that?

We all have to get out of bed in the morning. But we don’t have to stress ourselves out in the process! One simple way to reduce your overall level of cortisol and stress is to wake up to a more soothing, peaceful sound. Maintaining a balanced level of cortisol in the body is linked to better sleep, better memory, and better wellbeing in general. Do your body and mind a favor: don’t shock it into consciousness in the morning. There’s probably no life-threatening wall of water coming your way.