Annoying alarm clocks -- just how annoying?
March 20, 2009 4:44 PM   Subscribe

So how well do those weird or annoying alarm clocks actually work? I'm thinking about getting the one that makes you complete a jigsaw puzzle to turn it off, but I'm not sure...

Does anyone have any of the alarm clocks in the article? The jigsaw one looks interesting, so does the egg-laying one, and maybe the one which makes you shoot a target with a laser. I'm just not sure if any of these actually does what it says, namely making you work your brain a tiny bit so as to actually wake you up and get you out of bed.
posted by malapropist to Technology (20 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I've found that putting my clock on the other side of my room is much cheaper. (If your goal is to wake yourself up and not to have a conversation piece.)
posted by phunniemee at 4:48 PM on March 20, 2009

We have Clocky (listed at #1 in that article.). I fucking hate Clocky. I hate Clocky with every fiber of my being. If I were dying of thirst and Clocky were a crystal flagon of the finest nectar, I would shatter Clocky without hesitation before deigning to take a drink from him. So, uh, yeah, Clocky works in the sense that he wakes you the fuck up, but at what price, man? At what price?
posted by dersins at 5:00 PM on March 20, 2009 [62 favorites]

I have not tried any of these particular alarm clocks. But I did once have a baseball-sized one that worked well. It was deeply satisfying to hurl it across the room when it first went off, and it always woke me up to hafta get up and go look for it when it went off the second time.

The problem was that I could choose to simply tap it like a regular alarm clock and slumber on peacefully, leading to the infinite snooze-button loop.

Seems like "Clocky" and the flying one solve that problem.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:01 PM on March 20, 2009

These. Do. Not. Work.
I have managed to wake up, taken a shower (shaved too!), put my clothes on, eaten breakfest - and snuck back to bed.
I just keep telling myself that in a parallel universe, what I do is a virtue, hell, even a super power.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 5:12 PM on March 20, 2009 [7 favorites]

Seconding to put it on the other side the of the room. And put something on top of it, so you can't just smack the snooze button and walk away.

But better yet, if you're yearning for these things because you can't get up in the morning, first, start focusing on improving the quality of your sleep. I can't tell you how much better I feel, bounding out of bed in the morning, now that I take sleep quality seriously. Wasn't hard, either.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:18 PM on March 20, 2009

These. Do. Not. Work.

Yes. See, I have a discipline problem, not a get out of bed problem. You don't believe me? I have three alarm clocks:
  • a regular clock. I used to just have this across the room, but I started turning it off without waking up. I sometimes still do that, but mostly I just turn it off and go back to bed. Like this morning.
  • the flying alarm clock. I thought this would solve all of my problems, and so "stole" in from my boss's boss at the office Christmas party Gift Exchange. Unfortunately, I am now quick enough that I bound across the room, catch the flyer in mid-air and turn it off. And then go back to bed.
  • my cell phone. This takes care of the Turing Alarm clock that I don't have the expertise to build. When the alarm goes off, I have to punch in a random, 16-digit code. I type it in, go back to bed.
Now, each one on its own doesn't do the trick, and when I set all three, I just disable the remaining two after I turn off the first one (I can't get them to go off at the same time).

"But, niles, surely you get up in the morning. How do you do it?"

Glad you asked. Mainly it comes down to having something to do in the morning, either by shaming myself into need to do it, or just something I like to do. An example of the first type would be when I kept getting hassled at work for not having a set time that I come in, so I said that I would come in 90 minutes sooner than I normally did. I never would have heard the end of it if I had missed waking up on time that morning (remember, I don't turn the alarm off in my sleep. I turn it off, and decide sleeping in is better than whatever else I should be doing). An example of the second type would be last weekend, when I was visiting friends at the school I attended last year. There were things going on in the morning that I really didn't want to miss, and thus got up at the time I should.

Honestly, this frustrates me to no end. I have usually been a night person, and last year slowly transitioned into being a ridiculously early morning person. It was great, but now I'm back to a late night person. I haven't really cared enough to go back to getting to bed early, and I haven't been leaving myself enjoyable things (jogging, reading, etc) to do early morning. I've been blaming it on the winter blues, but it really comes down to just deciding that I'll do it. Which now, after typing all this, I'm going to do this weekend.

so, tl;dr - If you unconsciously turn off the alarm in your sleep, these novelty clocks could be a fun way to wake up, but it's probably easier to move the alarm across the room (that's part of how I became a morning person). If you have bigger problems...well, shoot me a MeMail and we'll work through it together.
posted by niles at 5:36 PM on March 20, 2009 [9 favorites]

Best answer: You just have to face up to the fact that you're a pretty smart member of a tool-using species. Regardless of what technical trickery you find to force yourself awake, your sleep-addled morning self will find a way to outsmart it.

As an example, I once had one of those jigsaw alarm clocks. It worked for a month or two, then I discovered that if I slid it across the desk an instant before it went off (it made a tiny noise that I learned to half-wake-up-to), the jigsaw pieces would all bounce off the wall and land back on the clock, letting me reassemble them and turn the damn thing off without even opening my eyes. Then I'd drift back to sleep.

My point is that you're smarter than any alarm clock you're likely to buy. The solution that sounds daft but worked (and still works) startlingly well for me is here.
posted by metaBugs at 5:45 PM on March 20, 2009 [9 favorites]

Bought a Clocky. Set it. Put it on nightstand. In morning, Clocky goes off, rolls off nightstand onto carpeted floor... and breaks. Goodbye Clocky.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:03 PM on March 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Consider the possibility that you're going at this from the wrong angle.

All "annoying" is going to do is annoy you.

I had an annoying alarm clock for many, many years. Then I got one of these. Wakes me up to the sound of songbirds.

Believe me when I tell you that I was genuinely surprised, the first morning, when it actually woke me up, immediately. And it is far from "annoying".

Sure, every once in a while I'll still hit the snooze. But that's much rarer than it used to be (when I had an annoying alarm clock), and it's fundamentally different than it was before: It's now "Eh, I'll rest a little more" rather than "FUCK YOU YOU FUCKING ALARM SHUT THE FUCK UP".
posted by Flunkie at 6:33 PM on March 20, 2009 [5 favorites]

Perhaps a cheaper option than Flunkie's clock, also featuring birds. It's on my wantlist so I can't vouch for it yet.
posted by IndigoRain at 7:23 PM on March 20, 2009

As a side note, there have been several of these types of questions on AskMe, and I must say that they do give me some sort of reassurance that I'm not a totally horrible awful lazy person because I can't get out of bed in the morning!

That said, the whole "put your alarm on the other side of the room" shit doesn't work. I can turn the alarm off and go back to bed. Please.

I just read metaBugs' link and it looks really interesting. I'm going to have to try it (albeit when my SO is not home!).

One tidbit I'd just like to throw in is that I find I can get up if *someone else* is counting on me. If my boss expects me at a meeting, or a friend expects me to pick him up, etc, I can get out of bed because I don't want to let that person down. Now that I have a dog, if I am on morning walk duty, I am much more compelled to get out of bed because Sunny is counting on me to take her out. Food for thought.
posted by radioamy at 8:06 PM on March 20, 2009

I have an alarm clock that requires you to slide a switch all the way to the right-hand side to set the alarm (well, to set the alarm AND the radio, which combined produce the most foul noise ever and wake me up instantly). I've had it for as long as I can remember, and have always kept it on the other side of the room. So when I started turning it off in my sleep, I started taping the switch down, just with normal scotch tape. I have to find a knitting needle and being prying tape off, which varies from 'easy' to 'arrrrghhhh' every morning, depending on how many pieces of tape I used, and in what random-ass tape pattern my sleep-addled brain decided on. There's an accumulating level of tape on my alarm because I physically cannot get it all off in the morning (but I do get it off later, if I remember) because it's too damn hard--I just get enough to slide the alarm switch to the left. Meanwhile, the alarm still goes off while I'm struggling with my knitting needle.

I wake up and stay up.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 8:29 PM on March 20, 2009

A friend gave me Clocky. I am out of bed (and pissed off) in about two seconds. I still require two additional alarm clocks, but the traveling nature of Clocky is a big help. This combination has helped me to reliably get to work on time, and I start work at 3AM.
posted by reeddavid at 2:04 AM on March 21, 2009

The only alarm clock that *always* woke me up was this:
I'd turn my mini-tower stereo up REALLY loud, set it to play a CD then set the auto-on. Then I'd slide the remote across the room so I couldn't use it. Not only would the music force me to get up, but the fact that my music would wake up every other member of my household meant that either guilt would drag me out of bed... or they would.
posted by jedrek at 4:01 AM on March 21, 2009

All of those sound like an amazing way to wake up in an incredibly bad mood. I have a sunrise alarm clock (this one), and I love it. The light turns on slowly, it feels really natural, and I almost always wake up before the actual alarm goes off.
posted by amelioration at 9:37 AM on March 21, 2009

Last year I bought a Philips Wake-Up light with radio. The light bulb is 100 watts. It's also a good reading light. I like it.
posted by iviken at 9:57 AM on March 21, 2009

Hammer Schlemmer sells a gradual light and noise alarm clock. Works well. Most mornings I wake up to the light first. It brings up the light and then sounds. I rarely get to the sounds. This after years of dual alarm clock radios.

You also have to consider if you're getting enough sleep AND that you're on bedding suited for your own comfort. Lots of people sleep on the wrong sort of material. Considering how much time we spend sleeping this is not an area to be stupid, or cheap.
posted by wkearney99 at 11:17 AM on March 21, 2009

When I was in high school, my mother told me that my college roommates would hate me because I would hit the snooze button over and over again every morning. So I went out to K-mart and bought something like this: an old fashioned bell alarm clock. It was cheap--about seven bucks new. And it was perfect.

What's so great about old fashioned alarm clocks? Simple. No snooze.

It was also incredibly loud and jarring sounding. Like, punch-you-in-the-face loud. And the manual alarm setting was sensitive enough that you couldn't reliably reset it as a make-shift snooze button--it would usually just continue ringing thirty seconds later. I learned to set my clock for the time I was actually going to wake up. And I learned to wake up immediately.

Incidentally, my college roommates hated it. And were perpetual snooze-button pushers. Thanks a lot, mom!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:14 PM on March 21, 2009

I think the real trick here is to figure out how much sleep you need to wake up naturally in the morning, then set an alarm at night as a reminder to go to sleep. I have yet to test this theory, but I suspect it will work wonders.
posted by pwnguin at 2:30 PM on March 21, 2009

Here is a youtube link to the corresponding Pink Panther cartoon about this phenomenon . . .

And otherwise, I also considered buying an annoying alarm clock, but came to the same conclusion as others have: I don't need any MORE annoyances in my day. I bought an amadana clock and the cheesy wakeup music makes me laugh every morning (airplanes! slow groove! crazy flute and handclaps!)
posted by oldtimey at 11:32 AM on March 22, 2009

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