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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Threat Vigilance, your Smartphone, and why you can’t sleep

Combat soldiers often have a tough time readjusting to life at home once the battle’s over. They’ve been trained to be on the alert for high-stakes hazards, in the form of incoming artillery fire or the sound of distant bomber planes approaching. They’re conditioned, in other words, for threat vigilance: a state of remaining alert to any and all possible dangers.

But when a soldier maintains a high level of threat vigilance upon returning from battle it can have a nasty effect on their general state of, well, relaxation. Because it’s telling them not to relax… constantly. 

Guess what else can provoke a similar level of threat vigilance? Your smartphone.

While it may not explode in your face (fingers crossed), your smartphone is nevertheless the source of a lot of your most stressful triggers. From late-night emergency work emails to the ping of a notification from your child’s school, all these “threats” come from the same place: your phone.

Now, no one is saying that keeping your smartphone in your bedroom at night is like sleeping in a war zone. But in a way… well, here’s how it works.

Many of us use our phones as our alarm clocks. It’s simple and easy and it works. But when you bring your smartphone to bed with you, you’re also bringing that fiendish little source of stress into your bedroom, too.

Even if you’re careful about not looking at your phone at bedtime, it’s probably sitting within arm’s reach of your pillow. And even if you don’t touch it at all, your subconscious knows it’s there. And if your subconscious knows it’s there, your vigilance level is heightened.

Why? Because we’ve trained ourselves to pay attention to our smartphones, since they’re the most important source of emergency updates in our lives. It makes sense that we would stay alert – it’s in our best interest, in terms of basic survival.

But staying alert is the opposite of what you want when you’re trying to get a good night’s sleep! As Harvard Medical School neuroscientist and assistant professor in the division of sleep medicine Orfeu M. Buxton explains, “This means that you’re never off, you’re always watchful, which is a hallmark of insomnia.”

Threat vigilance is a key factor in the development of PTSD in soldiers. While using your smartphone as an alarm clock probably won’t give you PTSD, it’s almost certainly provoking a heightened state of anxiety in you at exactly the time of day when you’d rather be relaxed and calm. 

Humans have survived as a species for 300,000 years because our nervous systems are alert and sensitive to danger, protecting us from harm. But let’s face it: you’re probably not going to be attacked by a saber-toothed tiger anytime soon. In the 21st century we humans need to find ways to adapt our environment to our needs. Leaving your smartphone outside your bedroom is one really easy way to make your sleeptime sleepier. Because unlike an approaching infantry brigade, you really can put off that annoying email until tomorrow.