Gone are the days of the basic alarm clock—wind it up, set the time, that’s it.
These days, alarm clocks are available with an amazing constellation of high-tech features, engineered to wake someone up in the kindest possible way, depending on individual preferences. There are alarm clocks for heavy sleepers, for the light-sensitive (rousing one with gradually increasing light rather than sound), and for those who prefer to wake up to music, videos, or sounds from nature.
Hard to wake up? An alarm clock on wheels, developed by a former student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, lets you hit the snooze alarm once. Then it rolls away and hides, forcing you to get up and find it the next time the alarm sounds. Some digital photo frames come with an alarm feature, allowing one to dress up the functionality of an alarm clock with the beauty of favorite photos. And some models combine an alarm with additional features such as a radio or dock for an MP3 music player, usually costing more than simple clocks but adding functionality, and saving clutter on the bedside table as well.
Electric alarms need battery backup
If the clock you rely on at home is powered by electricity, don’t forget to think of a backup system in case of a power outage. Many models come with a battery backup that will kick on if the power goes out—a terrific help if the electricity goes out in the middle of the night, but you still need to get up on time in the morning. Get in the habit of replacing the batteries on a regular basis, perhaps when checking the smoke alarm batteries at the switch to and from daylight-saving time in the fall and spring.
Forget the clock—use your phone or iPod
Some people no longer use a dedicated alarm clock at all. Instead, they rely on alarm features built into another device—a wrist watch, for example, or a cell phone or MP3 player. Put a charging dock for an MP3 player next to the bed, and it’s possible to program the player’s alarm to wake you up to a favorite song, while also charging the unit fully as you sleep.
Using the alarm function on a watch or cell phone has the advantage of portability while traveling—a great alternative for an electricity-free camping trip or for avoiding the difficulty of deciphering that unfamiliar hotel room clock alarm. For smartphones, alarm clock applications are available for purchase as well, some of which also include weather and calendar information. Some even monitor your sleep cycles, waking you up fully when you’re in the shallow part of your sleep cycle.