Clear Space Living
Clear Space Living

by Karen Kingston & Richard Kingston

by Karen Kingston & Richard Kingston


Clear Space Living Blog

The trouble with ticking clocks

Noise pollution in your home can deeply affect your health and well-being. Even the seemingly innocuous sound of a ticking clock can affect you in ways you may not realize.

Feeling that time is running out

One of the primary effects of living with a ticking clock is that you are likely to feel that time is limited or running out for you. This is because the constant background ticking noise provides a continual reminder that time is passing. Your conscious mind soon learns to tune it out but your subconscious continues to hear every tick.

I’ve found this to be the case with every client I’ve ever worked with for who has a ticking clock in a prominent location in their home, and there is scientific evidence for it too.

In one study by researchers at Florida State University, people were asked to fill out questionnaires about their ideal partner and what age they would like to get married and have children. It was found that, when there was a ticking clock in the room, women opted for getting married and having babies at an earlier age. Those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds were the most affected, but I have found that anyone who has a ticking clock in their home is subject to feeling there is generally not enough time. Remove the clock or replace it with a silent one and the belief will usually melt away.

Feeling that life is repetitive and boring

Another effect of a ticking clock is that the monotonous, repetitive sound can cause you to feel that your existence is nothing more than a series of cycles, repeated day after day, week after week, year after year.

Some people say that they find the ticking noise comforting and enjoy having a safe, predictable life, but as Benjamin Franklin once put it, ‘Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75’. There is so much more possible in life than doing the same things over and over again.

A ticking clock may affect your body rhythms

The human body has many different rhythms. We each have a unique heartbeat that is so distinctive that technology is now being developed to use it as the most secure password system ever invented. There is also the rhythm of our breath, our brainwave frequencies, and our personal sleep-wake cycle. Most cells in the body have their own circadian rhythm.

External rhythms can affect these. It is well established that depriving a person of sunlight can disrupt their sleep cycle, and certain types of music can lower blood pressure and heart rate.

A study conducted by Shoko Yamane and Naohiro Matsumura in 2015 in Japan showed that having a slow ticking clock in a room has an entrainment effect that slows a person’s performance. There are likely to be many other effects that have not yet been monitored.


A ticking clock in any part of your home will affect you but the worst place to have one is on your bedside table, or anywhere in your bedroom. You will be exposed to the sound during all the hours of sleep.

And it’s so unnecessary. Just google “silent clock” and you will discover a whole range of noise-free clocks that are readily available.

Most wall clocks are battery operated these days, so it’s just a matter of finding one that goes with your decor. If you use an alarm clock, be sure to choose one that runs on batteries rather than mains electricity, for the reasons explained in the article about clock radios listed below.

Copyright © Clear Space Living Ltd 2017, updated 2023

Related articles
Why the best place for a clock radio is in your bin, not on your bedside table
How Wi-Fi can affect your sleep

Related course
Creating Conscious Space online course

Like to read more articles like this?
Subscribe to my monthly newsletters to receive news, articles, special offers, and more by email. And I promise you – no junk mail ever.

19 comments on “The trouble with ticking clocks”

  1. Karen O

    This might be particularly true in infants, who take their cues from external sources such as caregivers. Recently I stayed with my sister after she had a baby, and I gave my new infant niece some supplementary bottle feedings. The baby would match her respiration to a prominent ticking clock, causing her to breathe a little too fast for effective feeding. I would have to lead my niece in some deep breathing, to settle her down and make feeding more effective. 🙂

  2. Hi Karen
    My Mum had a mantle clock given as an engagement gift from my Dad, in1940.
    It was there throughout my childhood, always ticking above the fireplace, sometimes chiming the hours.

    Two of my sisters became mothers at 17 years old and myself married at 18, but no children until four years later.
    I’ve had the clock for 18 years, 6 years not working, and have been wanting to have it fixed, but now I’m not so sure I will. I have it wrapped up, stored in the hall cupboard, not really a good solution. I must say I don’t miss the constant ticking.

    Peace, Gail

  3. Dave

    I know this comment is late, but I disagree with this. First of all I suspect there are other variables involved in the study about marriage age, but even if the clock truly is responsible I think that is only a positive thing as time IS limited. It’s much better to be reminded of this and that life is short than to just let it pass without noticing. As you quoted in this article “Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.” Meaning they are just letting the time pass while not truly living – in the context of the study, living would mean achieving your goal of marriage and babies earlier rather than later. Those who assume their life will be long might and they can put things off until later might die before they get the chance.

    I am currently looking for a ticking clock and find it nearly impossible because it seems 90% of clocks being sold are non-ticking. This is a tragedy. As you said, the ticking of a clock in one’s living room is peaceful and reduces anxiety for me greatly because the alternative is total silence. Total silence is something that is almost never experienced in nature, so it makes sense that it would cause anxiety. I also use white noise to help me sleep which is the exact same concept but strangely not controversial at all. People who are younger and never grew up with a ticking clock should really give them a try, it may change your life for the better.

    1. Hi Dave – You clearly feel comforted by the sound of a ticking clock and have a healthy relationship with time. That’s not the case for many people but we can agree to disagree about this in your case.

      I would point out, however, that white noise is not as innocuous as most people think it is. Humans do not need complete silence to sleep, but there is a huge difference between hearing sounds of nature and listening to an artificially created sound loop of frequencies between 20 and 20,000 hertz jumbled together. A number of studies have found that this causes the stress hormone cortisol to be released, which means your body never fully rests. Elevated cortisol levels are implicated in weight gain, gastrointestinal problems, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hormone imbalances, inflammation, a general weakening of the immune system, and other health issues.

  4. Angelina

    I’m totally with Dave. Your studies sound like nonsense. I recall studies long back stating the soft ticking of a clock and even a watch on a wrist to be benifictal to one’s health. The slow pace or rytham had something to do with it, I want to remember was stated. I know it was a calming plus in our household growing up as well as in raising my own family. I believe outcome results of studies depends on on the demographics of the studies.

  5. I found this article because I searched the terms “clock ticking entrainment.” My inlaws own a very loud pendulum clock on their mantle and today my husband said, “one day that will be ours.” [SILENT SCREAM] I hate that clock. Not only is it ugly, I cannot stand the ticking. They also keep small clocks in each room (EVERY ROOM!!!) that all tick. They are lovely people, and I’d hate to break the line of tradition, but there’s no way I’d have that clock tick tick tick tick tick ticking in my home.

    At first I thought it would drive me crazy, but honestly my fear is that I’d not be crazy, but robotic. Again, they are nice people but they are so routine oriented to the point that they have trouble seeing beyond themselves. It’s almost like… programming. I feel bad to speak poorly of them, but I’m the type that like new ideas, change, the notion of infinite possibilities. Indeed, my livelihood depends on my ability to be adaptable and innovative. I absolutely wilt in rigid, monotonous environments.

  6. I just had to write to you regarding your article on “The trouble with ticking time clocks”. We had one in our home too and all I would do when I listened to the loud ticking was think about time passing by and the things I should or shouldn’t have done. Well, needless to say we removed the clock and now I feel so much better. Keep up the good work!

  7. I LOVE ticking clocks and now almost impossible to buy….unless antique….

  8. I have had a ticking clock in my room since the time I remember. And I’m 28 now. I would say that the clock ticks have absolutely bothered me along the way. I think subconsciously, it has made me more anxious to do things timely which can be pretty non-productive when you are always up against the clock.

    I was always good at rapping and catched bpm’s pretty quick I think because of the constant ticks I’ve heard for so many years. I want to jump out of this guilt of not finishing things in time, elevated heart rate at this age and much more which I can’t even relate right now. I am removing the clock and hopefully it will be better with just a silent one. Again, all this is my experience and assumption.

  9. Tom D

    I have a total of eight ticking clicks in my house. I find them relaxing. Their chiming every quarter, half and full hours calms me. I wouldn’t trade any of them for a silent electric clock with no soul.

  10. dear karen, ticking clocks are sometimes too loud, but i have always loved watches, especially women’s watches. i think that a woman looks better with a watch on. some women wear big watches(too big), i like them small. karen, do you wear a ticking watch? have a nice day.

    1. Hi Jeff – I stopped wearing a wristwatch when I was about 7 years old. The mechanism of a watch creates an energetic whiplash in a person’s etheric, and if there are metal parts that are in contact with the skin, it also acts as a conductor of electromagnetic frequencies from the environment into the body. I therefore don’t recommend wearing a watch, whether for time-keeping purposes or as a fashion accessory.

  11. Cheryl

    Hi Karen, how cool I found your blog when I googled whether ticking clocks are comforting. I’ve had your clutter clearing book for over 20 years. So regarding even a watch throwing us off, what about Apple watches? My Apple Watch helps me track activity and workouts. Must I abandon it? Should I take it off to sleep?

    1. Hi Cheryl – I suggest you do an internet search for “Apple watch EMF hazard”. You’ll find a handful of articles articles that say they have not been proven to be harmful to health and many, many more that explain the dangers of being exposed to the WiFi radiation they emit 24/7. Would I ever wear one? Not even for a minute!

  12. Jane I.

    I grew up with a small ticking clock on the shelf of my bed . I loved it. I have been trying to find one since forever! I am now 78 and I remember the calming effect the ticking provided. After reading so many negative comments about the ticking I guess I can understand people’s objections and why they are no longer readily available. I want mine to tick.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Karen Kingston

Leading expert in Space Clearing, Clutter Clearing, and Conscious Living

If you’d like to stay in touch, the best way is to subscribe to my free monthly newsletters

Shopping Basket

Online Courses with Karen

Online Sessions with Richard