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What if my alarm clock wakes up my roommate but not me?

QUESTION: My alarm clock always wakes my roommate up before me. Unfortunately, he is a light sleeper and I am a heavy sleeper. He is starting to get really mad. Do you have any suggestions? Signed, Sleepless

Dear Sleepless: The differences in sleeping and waking patterns is one of the stickiest of all roommate conflicts, perhaps only second behind whose turn it is to scrub the toilet. This is a common problem whenever you live with other people, or as we discovered at Harvard, in a dorm with thin walls. In our case, we had a neighbor who would leave for class before his alarm went off. Our entire room was then treated to hours of annoying buzzing with no way to shut it off. Short of getting a new roommate we have a few suggestions.

Instead of an alarm, use a clock radio and keep it right next to your head when you sleep. Keep the volume low and tuned to a station that you hate. How much Wayne Newton can you stand before you jump out of bed screaming? You may have to experiment with the right combination of volume and station, but you should find that you can wake without bothering your roommate. Another option is to get a vibrating alarm. Some cell phones also have this feature. Put the alarm under your pillow, and you’ll wake up to a gentle vibration.

If all else fails, do what we did whenever we heard the buzz from next door: Stick in a pair of earplugs. You could even give them as a gift to your roommate as a peace offering. We wish you and your roommate a sound sleep.

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Gen & Kelly Tanabe

Gen and Kelly Tanabe are the founders of SuperCollege and the award-winning authors of 11 books on college admission, financial aid and scholarships. Together they were accepted to all of the Ivy League colleges and won more than $100,000 in merit-based scholarships to graduate from Harvard debt-free.