7 ways people woke up, pre-alarm clock

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There is something so unsettling about being woken up by the loud buzz of an alarm every morning. Or, even worse, a song on your phone which you picked because you love but after a week of 6.30am wakeup calls you hate. Have you ever wondered if there were better ways to wake up every morning? What did people do before the alarm clock was invented? Here are some smart ways people used to wake up before the alarm clock was a thing.

The Knocker-Up

A Knocker Upper was someone who was paid to wake people up every morning! First becoming popular in the Industrial Revolution, you could pay a few pence a week for someone to come to your house and make sure you were awake, using a long stick with a wire or knob on the end. Workplaces, such as factories, would also employ their own Knocker Ups to ensure their employees were up for work!

Factory whistle

If your place of work didn’t want to pay for a Knocker Upper, then they did have another way of waking you up. Back in the Industrial Age, most factory workers would live in the vicinity, which meant that they got the joys of waking up to the factory whistle every morning. You didn’t have any excuse to be late for work back then!

Religious wake up calls

Religious bells have been used as an early alarm clock for quite some time. Early Christian societies would use their bells to rouse villages and towns so that they could fill their congregation in the morning. Even still, there are many religions which use their religious chimes to wake up the locals. If you’ve ever been to a Muslim country, you’ll hear the calls for The Fajr (meaning the dawn) prayer first thing in the morning.

The water clock

For thousands of years, before alarm clocks were a thing, there was something known as the clepsydra or water clock. Working in a similar way to an hourglass, the water would slowly drip into the water clock until the floating bob hit the level it needed to be to sound the alarm. It’s incredible to think that alarm clocks were being used thousands of years ago.

Drinking water

While we’re on the subject of water, here’s an idea that you could actually put into practice today. Early men and women would drink a ton of water before they went to bed if they knew they had to be up early. Their full bladder would rouse them before the sun rose, meaning that they could wake up before dawn. Native Americans also used this method, called over-drinking, well into the 20th century.

Peg clocks

Taqi al-Din Muhammad ibn Ma’ruf invented one of the first mechanical alarm clocks back in the year 1555. This alarm clock required a peg put in a hole on the face of the clock, which would then sound an alarm when the hands reached that point.

The 4 am alarm

The beginning of the first proper alarm clock was created back in 1787 by an inventor named Levi Hutchens. Unfortunately, his alarm would only go off at 4 am and not the actual time he wanted to be up for work. Eventually, nearly 100 years later, Seth E Thomas created a mechanical wind-up alarm clock that could be set for any time.

It’s incredible to see how people woke up every morning before alarm clocks were invented. We say bring back the Knocker Uppers! Realistically, unless you want to wake up with a full bladder in the middle of the night, you’re best off sticking with your bog-standard alarm clock. Maybe just switch up the tone every now and then?

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