I think it's super important to have consistent naps. For a while I was oversleeping, pushing them forward or backwards, and taking cheat naps. I didn't realize until now that before I started doing that I was waking up without my alarm two out of three times. Since becoming inconsistent I NEVER woke up without my alarm. For the past 3-4 days I have cut out cheat naps and been scheduling my naps more regularly, and have found that I wake up naturally more often.
Also, when I was inconsistent I would never feel more refreshsed after a nap... I would only become more awake during an awake cycle. Now I am feeling refreshed after naps too.
Perhaps due to my new commitment to not oversleeping, the past 2-3 days have really been great. I had a couple light sleeps in my chair (<1 hour), but the overall quality of both my naps and my awake time continues to increase.
Today, for example, I haven't been tired for the past 24 hours. My minor oversleep of 30 minutes was because I was bored and just spacing out at my computer.
Each nap I've had in the past 24 hours was accompanied by an awesome dream, and naturally ended before my alarm clock. Usually when that happens I get another quick nap in before the alarm goes off, but when I woke up early on my most recent nap, I just got out of bed. The funny thing is that I was SURE that I overslept - I felt great and it seemed like I was in bed for hours.
I always have trouble getting out of bed in the morning. I don't mind waking up at 4 am or 5 am because once you start moving around you feel less tired. The problem that I always have is waking up. I absolutely hate the feeling of waking up, I'm sure everyone knows exactly the feeling I'm talking about. Your eyes are heavy, you feel like a rock, you start arguing with yourself, and once you do that, you're never getting out of bed. The initial resistance is what keeps me from waking up early in the morning.
Designing a "good" alarm clock is a very tricky thing. Most alarm clocks are loaded with fancy features but in the end only done one thing right (and sometimes that even goes horribly wrong); blast a sound at a certain time.
To design a proper alarm clock, one would have to look at the issue of waking up. Which isn't an easy problem to solve.
I've recently stumbled upon a fantastic iPhone alarm clock app. It's called "Wake N Shake"