S3:E21 | Should I have a clock in my bedroom?

clock podcast season 3 sleep faq's
Should I have a clock in my bedroom?


The idea that you shouldn’t have a clock in the bedroom has been a regular message within some of the mainstream sleep hygiene advice in recent years and it is something I find many people worry about. I have a different perspective to a lot of the mainstream advice - I will share it with you in today’s episode. 




Hello and welcome back to the Sleep Seekers Podcast, my name is Emma Ashford and I am a sleep coach, insomnia therapist and the founder of sleep seekers where we are all about promoting and restoring good quality, natural sleep. 


So, this issue of should I have a clock in my bedroom - let’s talk about it. 


Lots of sleep hygiene advice tells you that you shouldn’t have a clock in your bedroom, largely because it can increase the sense of pressure to sleep

I think this is too general to be applied to everyone and there is more complexity to the issue of whether you should have a clock in your bedroom or not. 


Some people do find that they become obsessive about the time and it can worse their sleep problems or increase their anxiety. 


However, this is not related to the clock, or to the time, this is about how they are thinking and feeling about what time it is. 

So, if you wake up at 2am, it is still 2am whether you know it is 2am or not. 

It is not the time that is the issue but rather what you make it mean that you are awake at that time. 


One of the things I often work on with people with sleep issues is how to manage their reactions to waking during the night so that it supports sleep rather than promoting waking for longer. 


So, it is more about how you feel about the time. If it is significantly raising your anxiety then absolutely get rid of the clock. It doesn’t mean it will stop you waking up, or mean you get to sleep quicker but it might make you feel more relaxed about it. If this is the case, I would also suggest booking in for a sleep assessment session with me as this is not simply related to the clock but is part of a bigger issue. 


What you could consider instead of having a clock in the bedroom is to set an alarm for whenever you consider morning, let’s say 7am as an example. So until that alarm goes off, you can consider it your sleep time. I like to describe it that between going to bed and the alarm going off it is your ‘sleep container’. If you wake up you know that there is nothing you need to do and you can simply go back to sleep or at the very least relax. 


For me however, I really like having a clock in the bedroom and if I stay in a hotel that doesn't have a clock, I will tend to have my phone or watch close by so i can get a sense of the time if I wake up or if one of my children is up in the night. I find it orientates me to where I am in the night which is more relaxing for me. But that may be partly because I have all the sleep skills that I teach in the Sleep Optimiser Programme and so I have a good relationship with sleep and I know how not to allow thoughts or anxieties to take over related to the time. 

In my bedroom I have a sunrise clock which obviously shows the time all night and then ten minutes before I want to be getting up / my son will wake me up, the light comes on to mimic the sunrise. I find this invaluable in the winter and it does no harm in the summer. 


Another consideration relating to whether to have a clock in the bedroom is for those people who might have some sensory sensitivity or sensory processing problems. For some people the tick of a clock or even noises from a digital clock can be unbearable and be a big barrier to relaxing or sleeping. If this is you, then absolutely get rid of it. You want to make your space in your bedroom as relaxing and calming as possible. 


So, ultimately the question of whether to have a clock in your bedroom is a personal decision. Just remember that it is not the clock or the time that it is the problem, it is how you feel about what time it is. And the way you think and feel about it can be changed - this is a sleep skill that is part of what I teach. 

And it might be that if you have a sleep problem, it is about you tackling the sleep problem rather than allowing the time to continue to mock you or make you feel anxious. 


I hope that helps to answer this question of should I have a clock in my bedroom. 


I will pop a link to sleep assessments in the show notes for anyone that might consider getting help with their sleep and I will also link up my Sleep Optimiser Programme for anyone who would like to learn the sleep skills than mean that time time doesn’t matter to you in the night.