I wake up because I hear my alarm going off. And then, when I am fully awake, realize it's not going off and it's still the middle of the night. I'm not afraid it won't go off or that it isn't set, I just keep thinking I hear it. The key in my situation is that this is clearly tied into stress, specifically work/school related stress. I have noticed that the two go hand-in-hand and are only experienced in combination with one another.
For me, work/school related stress manifests in dreams. I remember when I was working in technology in the K-12 education environment...where I was trying to perform the work of 2, or more, people in a regular work week (after all, "we can't hire people just because we need them"...yes, that's a quote...I actually heard those words.) Most mornings, I woke up feeling like I had already worked an 8 hour shift. I would, quite literally, spend my night dreaming that I was at work, solving problems, responding to help desk tickets, and tackling complex programming issues. On more than one occasion, I woke up in the morning with an answer to a serious problem I had been struggling with at work for several days, or even weeks. As thankful as I was for having found my answer, the stress of sleep was compounding the stress of work...and that's where the alarm clock anxiety disorder comes in.
I'm not afraid I didn't set my alarm, or that it won't go off, I'm afraid I'm going to sleep through it. It's a phenomenon that has only happened two or three times in the nearly 30 years I've been using an alarm clock to wake up. I know, and I mean I KNOW, that I will wake up when my alarm goes off. Even if I forget to turn on the ringer on my phone (who doesn't use their phone as their alarm clock these days?) the phone will vibrate and that is enough to wake me up. I WILL hear it (or even feel it if the phone is lying on the bed next to me) and wake up. There's no rational reason for me to think my alarm won't wake me up AND that fear doesn't exist when I'm not stressed out by work/school.
I don't want you to think I'm complaining about school. I mean...I am...but not necessary in that whiny "school sucks" way we're all used to hearing from children. School is hard, especially for a 41 year old internet ravaged brain (see The Shallows); but, it's the kind of hard that is rewarding. I am being challenged socially, theologically, academically, and spiritually AND I'm enjoying that...but it doesn't mean it isn't causing some stress in my life. The light at the end of the tunnel, the end of the semester, is only a little over a week away and it's both a blessing and a curse. I have far too much work to do to get it all done in time, but I know it will get done...somehow...eventually. #stress
I know that in just over two weeks I'll be able to set my alarm and sleep relatively soundly through the night...light at the end of the tunnel. No more dreams about papers, discussion board posts, 40 page chapters on Biblical interpretation, world religions, or the creation and fall of mankind. I might not even set my alarm, not that that will make any difference in how I sleep.
The other aspect of this is that I realize it's not something I have ever taken to the Lord in prayer (aside from the middle of the night plea of "Please, God, let me just sleep through the night!") Much like Paul's thorn in the flesh, this is a stressful and bothersome issue for me and if I'm not taking it to God in prayer, I'm not doing myself any favors. I'll pray about it tonight, and even if I wake up stressed out tomorrow, I will try to "take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong."