6 Alarm Clocks That Actually Do Their Job

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Woman slap alarm clock

Sleep good. Waking up bad. Going to bed at night is awesome. Getting out of bed in the cold, dark morning sucks [insert gross, disgusting thing here].

We’ve been hearing for years about the importance of sleep. We need it to recharge, refocus, and maintain our sanity (quite literally). We need the right amount (typically 7-8 hours), the right temperature in the room (anything above 68°F is too warm for optimal sleeping), the right amount of noise (absolute silence for some of us, and some kind of soothing white noise for the rest of us), and darkness. Absolute darkness. Even your bedside clock light could be affecting your sleep.

But that’s not all you need to know. Yes, the quality of your sleep is important, but so is how you wake up in the morning. Not all methods are created equal. How you get up can set the tone for the rest of your day.

For most of us, we use a traditional radio alarm clock on the table beside our bed. We set the alarm, set the radio station or beep, and hit the hay. But what do you do when the alarm clock screams its unholy screech the next morning? You hit the snooze button and roll over again. And then you do it again. And possibly again. A USA Today survey found that over one-third of American adults hit the snooze button at least three times each morning.

So, what’s the big deal? The extra time between the sheets can only be good for us. Extra sleep is always better than no extra sleep, right? No. In fact, most experts agree that you’re making it harder on yourself when you hit that snooze button even once. When your alarm goes off, your brain and body begin to reboot and transition from sleep to awake. By hitting the snooze button and closing your eyes again, you’re throwing that routine into chaos. Nobody knows what’s going on (a confused brain is not a productive brain). As a result, you can end up feeling more tired than if you just got up in the first place.

The simplest solution? Avoid the snooze button. Set your alarm for the time you actually need to get up. And then get up. If you know you don’t have the willpower to resist the allure of the snooze, consider placing your alarm on the other side of your bedroom. You’ll be forced to get up to turn it off…; and once you’re up, you’re more likely to stay up.

Or you could try one of these unusual alarm clocks. They get the job done.

1. Dumbbell Alarm Clock

Dumbbell Alarm Clock

Many people swear by the effectiveness of exercising first thing in the morning. The rest of us ain’t buying it (to be fair, the evidence does suggest it’s a good idea…; I just don’t want to do it). Enter the Dumbbell Alarm Clock (Amazon, $22). It has a digital display on one end, but other than that, it looks like a regular dumbbell. The alarm has two settings: normal, which requires that you pick it up once, and dumbbell mode, which requires that you complete 30 repetitions of a bicep curl in order to turn the alarm off. It’s not heavy enough to give you arms like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s, but you’ll have to at least sit up in bed to complete the motions. If you’re sitting up in bed (if not standing beside it) having completed 30 reps, you’re awake. Get up.

2. Flying Alarm Clock

The problem with traditional alarm clocks is their placement. They’re right beside us, within arm’s reach, making that snooze button pretty damn handy. The Flying Alarm Clock (Amazon, $14.99) fixes that. The base looks like any other alarm clock: digital display, a few buttons, but when the alarm goes off in the morning, the top part takes off…; literally. It launches a helicopter section up and away from the base unit. You’ll have to get up, locate the top section (the key), and return it to the bottom in order to turn the alarm off. That’s the only way. Getting out of bed is the worst part of the morning, but once you do (say, in order to find a helicopter), you’re usually tickety-boo.

3. Clocky Alarm Clock on Wheels

Alarm clock on wheels

Much like the flying alarm, this one operates on the premise that if they can get you up and out of bed, you’ll be good to go. The Clocky Alarm Clock on Wheels (Amazon, from $35) looks something like a toy tank with a simple digital clock face. When the alarm goes off, the unit gets going. It can safely drop from a three-foot-high nightstand, and once it hits the floor, it will take off in a random direction to “hide”. You need to find it and hit the off button. Getting down on the floor and searching under the bed for a robotic alarm that is actively trying to escape you may not sound ideal, but you’re definitely awake and ready to tackle the morning.

4. Dangerbomb Alarm

The Dangerbomb Clock (Amazon, $87.60) looks like an explosive device you’d see in the movies. To turn it off, you must defuse the “bomb” by disconnecting the color-coded wires in the right order (and the order changes each morning). The premise is that you: a) have to do a little thinking, which should kick-start your brain, and b) you can’t do it while lying down on the bed.

5. Sonic Bomb Alarm Clock

Sonic Bomb Alarm Clock

So far, the alarm clocks on this list all require you get up and do something. That can be very effective, but it’s not the only way. The Sonic Bomb Alarm Clock (Amazon, $31.99) looks in many ways like a regular alarm clock but with one very important difference: it’s loud. Very loud. The alarm is an ear-shattering 113 decibels. For comparison, truck traffic is about 90 decibels, a hand drill is around 98 decibels, a motorcycle is 100 decibels, and a rock concert is roughly the same at 115 decibels. So, yeah, it’s loud. But that’s not all: the display has large pulsating lights, and there’s even a vibrating unit that goes under your mattress or pillow. Try sleeping through all of that.

6. Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock

Alarms – even the ones on this list – can be somewhat jarring. They wake you up with a loud noise or force you to jump out of bed to find something. There is a gentler, more relaxing way, though. The Philips Wake-up Light Alarm Clock (Amazon, $114.99) simulates sunrise over a 30-minute period. If you set your alarm for 6 am, it’ll start to gradually fill your room with light at 5:30 am. This is often enough to gently wake most people up (after all, rising with the sun is what humans did for thousands of years). Once it hits the alarm time, you have a choice of five nature sounds (or the radio). It has 20 brightness settings and is so bright, in fact, that it can be used as a reading light. Independent studies conducted by third-party researchers found that 92% of users found it easier to wake up and get up when using this device.

A few other interesting options include the iQ Alarm Clock (you must answer on to three questions of various difficulty), the Sub Morning (the clock must be fully submerged in water to turn it off), and the Alarm Clock Carpet (a floor mat with digital display that you must stand on with both feet to turn the alarm off). These three are still in the development phase, but they sound promising.

Waking up sucks. There’s no changing that. But a better alarm clock can take it from “really sucks a lot” to an improved “sucks”.