Recommend a gentle alarm clock
November 6, 2008 1:35 PM   Subscribe

Please recommend to me an alarm clock that will wake me gently, rather than jolting me from my slumber.

I'm in the market for a new alarm clock, but I have only one reqirement: its buzzer volume must ramp-up, rather than coming on at full force immediately. Waking to music or radio won't do.

While the latter style does indeed wake me up, it makes me angry. I stayed at a hotel that had a clock like this and I found that I really liked it. (I had no idea such a thing existed!)

I've read mixed reviews about the Zen Clock, but I'm looking for a product that is well designed and will last.
posted by Wild_Eep to Shopping (21 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: where 'clock like this' is the gentle kind, not the aural-electrocution kind.
posted by Wild_Eep at 1:35 PM on November 6, 2008

I have an alarm clock that does this. It is the iHome alarm clock, and it costs about $100 but it was worth it for me. I had the same problem as you...I almost had a physical reaction to the buzz on the alarm clock. There is even a TV commercial that has a loud buzzing alarm clock in it, and I have to rush to the TV and turn down the volume whenever that commercial comes on.

Anyway, the iHome has been great. You can also plug your iPod in to it and set it to wake you with a chosen playlist (although it sounds like that won't work for you). The volume increases slowly on the music setting as well. Even if you don't use this for your alarm it has pretty good speakers so it is a good way to listen to music.

I use the buzzer option because I always forget to plug in my iPod, and along with increasing in volume, the frequency of the buzzes increases as well.

Other features: 2 independent alarms that can be set to Weekend, Weekday, or Everyday; 7 clock brightness settings, including off; remote control.

I love it.
posted by junipero at 1:51 PM on November 6, 2008 [4 favorites]

Here is the link to the clock I described above.
posted by junipero at 1:54 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Philips products with "gentle wake" have increasing alarm volume. I've got one that allows me to choose between alarm sounds, a track on a CD, or the radio, and all of them start quiet and get louder.
posted by xo at 1:56 PM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]

I have an older version of this alarm clock from GE. The alarm gradually grows louder and louder until it becomes impossible to sleep through.

The only update seems to be that the new version allows you to set two different alarms simultaneously, and the newer version automatically changes for daylight savings time (although some people had problems when DST was moved recently, but GE lets you turn this feature off). It's unfortunate that amazon doesn't have it in stock, but maybe you can find it somewhere else.

I generally have a problem with alarm clocks. The path of my life is strewn with clocks that didn't wake me up, or clocks that I forgot to set, etc. etc. This alarm clock is, by far, the most functional and useful alarm clock I've ever used. I have never, ever slept through the alarm.

Warning: if you have roomates they will hate this alarm clock with a passion.
posted by muddgirl at 2:02 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

I [used to] have this old model sunrise alarm clock which did the trick, but when the bulb busted I reverted back to the noisy klaxon variety.

I prefer this one to the new Hammacher model, if only because it doesn't look like a Dalek landed on my nightstand. However, I do remember that it is analog and was a pain to set using an old-school dial.
posted by pkphy39 at 2:05 PM on November 6, 2008

It is kinda pricey, but I was looking for a radio/alarm clock/ipod and found that the XtremeMac Luna was the best sounding/looking/quality. I think it is discontinued, but they replaced it with the Luna X2. I love that mine gently wakes me up with the morning NPR programming. And again, it sounds pretty great for a clock radio.
I also love that the sleep function is programmable.
posted by MiggySawdust at 2:05 PM on November 6, 2008

As an alternative approach-

Music won't wake you, but if you have a CD/iPod alarm clock, you can make a track with buzzers (or any sound you like!) that gets gradually louder.
posted by JMOZ at 2:21 PM on November 6, 2008

A dawn simulator like this one (with a built in alarm that gradually gets louder) might be a good option for you.

To make it easier to get up you might also want to consider adjusting the length of time that you aim to spend sleeping to be an even multiple of 90 minutes - see sleep cycles.
posted by rongorongo at 2:43 PM on November 6, 2008

I came here to plug the exact some clock junipero did. The iHome is awesome.

If you don't plug in your ipod, which I choose not to, there's a little beep.........beep........beep that gently nudges you awake. Then if you do nothing a reasonable beep....beep.....beep that reminds you it's still going and you should think about getting up. This becomes a more insistent and faster beep beep beep if you continue to be lazy and finally the frickin' loud BEEPBEEPBEEP only if you don't turn it off, which by then you always have.

My son, who WANTS to wake up suddenly, does use his ipod, and he springs out of bed to really loud Mushroomhead in the morning, but he's at the other end of the house, so that's okay.

You have dual alarms that can be set to just go off on weekdays, and so you don't have to change anything or turn it off on the weekend, it just *knows* it's Saturday/Sunday, which is amazing and cool, as was the way it automatically switched over to EST when daylight saving time was over.

Plus, yes, the light from the clock can be dimmed for those of us who like it really dark when we want to sleep.

I've never been this in love with an alarm clock before.
posted by misha at 3:06 PM on November 6, 2008

I used to be able to wake up without an alarm clock, unless I really needed sleep. Now, I've found that setting my cellphone to vibrate will work well enough, if I've slept long enough. Are you a deep sleeper who hates mornings, or do you accept the fact you must wake up?
posted by filthy light thief at 3:08 PM on November 6, 2008

I've used one of these for about a year and a half now. It wakes you with a nice chime (a real one, not synthesized) that gradually gets louder and closer together.

I love it. Wife hates it. Go figure. Beats tinny music or some stranger's voice suddenly blaring out of nowhere, IMHO.

It recently stopped working but they're honoring the 1-year warranty anyway.
posted by gottabefunky at 4:28 PM on November 6, 2008

Best answer: If you have a Mac, this is a piece of software which will do just what you're asking for.
posted by barnacles at 5:35 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Definitely NOT this one.
posted by blenderfish at 6:16 PM on November 6, 2008

My non-alarm clock workaround for gentler wakeups:

Let there be light:
[If you don't have sufficient natural daylight in the morning:] A cheap power-switch timer plugged into a lamp. It's not enough to wake me up when I'm in deep sleep, and it doesn't jerk me awake, but it seems to switch me over to light sleep, and sometimes I just - wake up.
Blissfully smoothly. Gone from sleeping to realising I'm actually awake, just with my eyes closed, and after opening my eyes to figure out how I just 'woke up' (did I oversleep? Is it the afternoon?) realising after a few seconds that the light is on.

Let there be chill, birdsong & music:
About 10 minutes after the light switches on, I have 'Banshee Screamer Alarm' (a computer alarm program), play a music track that is already designed to slowly get louder.
I was using 'Trinity Roots - True' for this (local band), as initially it's just quiet guitar strumming and bird song.

Followed by something more lively:
This varies. Sometimes I do something kinda loud and push-up-y, because I am awake by now, and it helps me move.

Followed by beeping-incase-I'm-dead-and-my-housemates-should-call-an-ambulance-for-me:
About 6 minutes after this, I just have a beeping alarm go off, incase I'm dead to the world or something. I don't have to use this, as I've already switched off the alarm.

I hate to say it though, but if you tend to hold a (rightful) vindictiveness towards anything that takes you from the gentle arms of slumber...
then even if it does it really nicely, the first few times might be beautiful, but you might start getting adrenaline-y even at the nice, quiet, mellow sound after awhile.

This is why I just use a computer, and rotate the sound. Maybe you could get an alarm that accepts mp3's or something, and still has the gradually-louder function.

I'm trying to use less of my favourite songs now, as I don't want to contaminate them with my 'dang, I have to get up' resentment. Sounds like tibetan bowls etc, and 'meditation timer' (google this) sounds are gentle, and prolific enough on the internet that you can rotate them as needed.
posted by Elysum at 7:06 PM on November 6, 2008

I really like this Sangean clock with a digital and analog readout. It has the `humane waking system' function, which starts off very softly and was much better than the BEEP BEEP BEEP noise of my previous clock.
posted by tomble at 7:40 PM on November 6, 2008

My 'cheap as free' input: when I need an alarm, I set my alarm clock to the radio option, turn the volume to a fairly low level, and tune the radio to something weird or maybe between stations. (I live in a city, so there is always something recognizable mixed in with the static.) I set it to go off about 15 minutes before I need to be out of bed so that I can just lie there for a few minutes after I'm conscious. Caveat emptor: I love weird, uncanny sounds.
posted by nosila at 8:09 PM on November 6, 2008

Dear nosila: read the whole post, dummy. :)
posted by nosila at 8:10 PM on November 6, 2008

Best answer: I wouldn't have expected this, but my Nintendo DS has a fantastic alarm setting that has a gentle, gradually increasing tone.

Personally, I'm fine with my 10 dollar clockradio audio-cacophony alarm, but my wife loathes the thing, so I use my DS when I have to wake up before she does.

Plus, you know, you can play games with the thing.
posted by phredgreen at 8:46 PM on November 6, 2008

Response by poster: Wow, great recommendations! I'm looking through them all.

I do happen to have a DS, but I didn't know about the gradual-volume alarm! I 'spose as long as I keep it plugged in, I'll be fine. (However if my kids see it on the nightstand I /know/ they'll nab it.) I /will/ use the DS as an alarm clock when I'm out of town though.

OTOH, I also have a Mac, and checked out the alarm app. It's pretty good!

I think I'll be sorting through the other product responses and looking for a good fit.

I'm so glad that I asked the hivemind! :-D
posted by Wild_Eep at 10:43 AM on November 10, 2008

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