What can wake me up?
June 13, 2011 7:28 AM   Subscribe

Chronic snoozer/late sleeper looking for alarm clock recommendations - what have you found useful?

Bit of background - I'm incredibly good at snoozing alarm clocks and going back to sleep without waking up properly (including ones around the room). I've always had trouble with this, and have seen my GP about it. I have medication for excessive daytime sleepiness, so I don't have problems during the day. Where I hit problems is the initial getting moving part.

I've got a few alarm clocks at the moment:

Two which make the bed shake.
A DAB radio alarm clock.
Run around "Clocky" rip off.

I'm open to suggestions as to what I could try, but two things I'd like to know if anyone's found/or has ideas about how to build would be:

1) A radio alarm clock with a fixed "on" duration. Set it for 7am, and set it to come on for 1 hour. No snooze button, no easy means of turning it off (battery powered, screwed/locked battery hatch, no volume controls). Gets around to 7am and it turns on for an hour. Think it would work well in terms of the Today programme coming on, and something interesting grabbing attention.

2) A more powerful version of this: . I have one, but it's a mild tingle at worst. I'd be thinking more along the power levels of something like this, where it's actually painful:
posted by MattWPBS to Shopping (27 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
The SleepCycle iPhone app, together with a plethora of pre-alarms.
posted by tel3path at 7:34 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A sunrise alarm clock set for the same time every morning (including weekends) has made an INCREDIBLE difference for me. Seriously, before the sunrise alarm, it was not uncommon for me to snooze through 3 separate alarms for 2 hours straight. Now, I am apparently a morning person. Even if I go to bed quite late, even if I forget to turn my alarm clock on for the odd morning, I still wake up around 7. It is amazing, especially in the wintertime.

The one I use is the Philips Wake-Up Light, which is great -- a tad pricey, but worth every penny.
posted by ourobouros at 7:42 AM on June 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

Salton and Westclox both make very loud hand-wound alarm clocks - what I do when I absolutely must get up early is set the clock and leave it in the bathroom sink. There's ni way to sleep through that - it sounds like a fire alarm - and once I'm at the sink my hindbrain takes over and washes my face, and then I'm awake enough to apply milk and Splenda to a cup of Nespresso or cold-brewed coffee and I'm good to go.
posted by nicwolff at 7:55 AM on June 13, 2011

Recovering oversleeper here...
Back in the day I cobbled together an old alarm clock, a couple of relays and a doorbell:
I'd set the alarm, go to sleep, the clock would trigger the relays and the (LOUD) doorbell would ring in my bedroom. It could only be turned off downstairs. Very effective.
Full disclosure: My wife wasn't pleased, so I had to stop using it after a few months.
Fast forward to present time:
I now own an Android phone and use Alarm Clock Plus. It is set up to two snoozes, 10 minutes each, after which I have to solve a math problem to shut it up. That usually works.
posted by Thug at 7:55 AM on June 13, 2011

I, too, enjoy a good snooze (or ten) of the alarm clock in the morning, even after 8 hours of sleep. I've tried all kinds of tricks including putting the alarm in another room, hiding it in a different place every night, etc. Many of these solutions work fine for a few days or a couple of weeks, but eventually I adapt to them and they stop being effective.

I bought a sunrise/wake-up alarm clock like the the one ourobouros mentioned. At first, it worked quite well for me. But after a few weeks, like all other solutions I've tried, I somehow adapted to it and am back to snoozing for an hour, even with the insanely bright light beaming next to my head. The result is that now when I finally do roll out of bed, I have a headache from the light. I wish I had an answer for you; I will be watching this thread with interest.
posted by Nothlit at 8:02 AM on June 13, 2011

Best answer: I hate his writing style, but these three posts by Steve Pavlina were a good starting point for me. I felt pretty goofy working through the activities he recommends, but they honestly helped. I went from always being late getting up to only sleeping in maybe 20% of the time and dropping.

How to Become an Early Riser

How to Become an Early Riser Part II

and probably most relevant for you:

How to get up right away when your alarm clock goes off

I've largely steered clear of the other self-helpy motivational type stuff on his website, but those three articles were genuinely useful.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:08 AM on June 13, 2011 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Two alarm clocks. One set for an hour before you need to get up. One set for your normal wake time. One glass of water. One dose of Provigil.

1. Alarm Clock #1 goes off. You take the Provigil in your sleepy fugue state and then go back to sleep.

2. Provigil kicks in and by the time Alarm Clock #2 goes off you are ready to start the day.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:15 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have a really hard time waking up. I like my Chumby. It has a lot of options for alarms, including things like "[internet or fm] radio comes on, plays for X amount of time, shuts off." I don't think there's a way to disable the snooze/off capability, though. Perhaps one of the widgets might have this ability, and there are a lot of them, many user-submitted, things people made because they wanted the function. Or you could install it out of reach; any time you needed to change settings, you could control it via ssh.

It does have the capability to set a LOT of alarms. You could have it play a bugle for a minute, then internet radio for 15 mins, then another bugle, then twittering birds, a specific mp3 off a flash drive, etc etc. You sound like a more solid snoozer than I am, but this thing has helped me make it to the waking world more consistently than anything else.

How would your morning sleepiness respond to things like smelling coffee (from a preset timed coffee maker) or bacon, perhaps? Would it help to set a caffeine pill (or your sleepiness meds) next to--or on top of--the clock, so the first time you hit snooze you can start the process of getting awake while you're snoozing?
posted by galadriel at 8:30 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

I always found that keeping a clock out of my way was good, if I had to make an effort to turn it off then I was sure to make the mature decision to go get busy doing morning stuff now that I was out of bed. However, if that has not worked for you then maybe you need a more aggressive strategy *evil grin*

flying alarm clock
posted by zombieApoc at 9:11 AM on June 13, 2011

The best thing to do is to drink a glass of water before going to bed.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:12 AM on June 13, 2011

How about sleeping with your blinds/drapes open? That has helped me to come alive in the mornings. (Doesn't work so well in the winter, when it gets light later.)
posted by vickyverky at 9:14 AM on June 13, 2011

I have a Sleeptracker watch that gives me a buzz when I'm most awake during a set window - I like it because it has both vibration and audible alarms, and detects when I am surfacing.

That said, I mostly use that as a heads-up for my actual alarm, a beeper I hate in the other room.

The best thing has been carpooling, because if I snooze, I won't be ready in time.
posted by bookdragoness at 9:16 AM on June 13, 2011

How are your meds for EDS dosed, and are they extended-release? PURELY ANECDOTALLY AND UNDER A PRACTITIONER'S GUIDANCE, I found a combination of

(a) setting my alarms (one radio, one sunrise) about 45 minutes to an hour earlier than I wanted to be truly awake

(b) setting up my mini-coffee-maker as described here so I have an immediate reward for waking up. I love coffee. (Note, you do not have to use caffeinated coffee, or you could have tea. It's the getting your digestive system going part, and the immediate reward for semi-consciousness. I do use caffeinated coffee, but I'm an ultra-rapid metabolizer.)

(c) having half a granola or similar bar in the bedside table. I eat it half-asleep while taking my meds for ADHD (AdderallXR and Wellbutrin XL) and then trying to slurp some of the coffee down.

Then I doze for a bit--although I find that since it's summer, I am mostly awake lately. Some of the extended-release generics from certain manufacturers seem to perform better when taken with a bit of food. Again, this is anecdotal--true for me, and common enough that the practitioner supervising my medications mentioned it to me when I said I was having some trouble with effectiveness. Hence the granola bar.

I have another medication that makes me sleepy, and when I take that affects whether or not I can get up on time. As you've probably heard from your doctor and in the sleep hygiene articles above, you'll want to evaluate your whole day and what else may be affecting your wakefulness, your chronotype, etc. For all of those reasons, YMMV. I was an extremely early riser as a child (5:15 AM or bust, baby!), and have just now (at 31) felt the shift back towards that pattern.

My last-ditch jet-lag tip used when I need to be somewhere, no mistake: use your "gut alarm." No food for 13-14 hours before you need to be awake.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 9:59 AM on June 13, 2011

I bought a sunrise/wake-up alarm clock like the the one ourobouros mentioned. At first, it worked quite well for me. But after a few weeks, like all other solutions I've tried, I somehow adapted to it and am back to snoozing for an hour, even with the insanely bright light beaming next to my head.

Same for me. At first it was a resounding success, and over time my body has learned to just roll over to face away from it.

I am also interested in trying to find answers, although I suspect I will just have to battle my body's natural sleep cycle as long as I hold a regular office job.
posted by Fleebnork at 10:46 AM on June 13, 2011

Get an old fashioned clock that has the actual bells on it. Place it across the room. They are a pain to try and turn off, and they just keep going until you do. Placing it across the room forces you to get up.
posted by rich at 10:51 AM on June 13, 2011

My trick for when I really know I need to get up, and really know it's going to be difficult is to drink extra water the night before, and have it ready anytime I get up during the night. When the alarm goes off, more then likely you will need to go to the bathroom -- use that to kick start, and get yourself a shower. Hard to get back to bed after a shower (not that it's impossible).

Also: go to bed earlier.
posted by artlung at 10:54 AM on June 13, 2011

The sleep phase cycle alarm on the iPhone worked really well for me, so that's what I can recommend as far as alarm clocks.

As far as advice, the best advice is not to actively think through the "oh I have to get up" concept, but Just. Do. It. The best way to defuse the tendency to hit snooze repeatedly is to bypass the conscious / cognitive loop altogether. Meaning that, without even thinking about it, put your feet on the floor and stand up. Go start coffee, get in the shower, whatever, the moment the alarm goes off. I was a chronic lifetime oversleeper until I adopted this mentality.

If that doesn't work, I do have a last ditch suggestion. mr. lfr, despite the sleep-phase alarm, attempts to short-circuit the thought process, etc..., was an inveterate oversleeper until roughly mid February of this year, at which point my third bit of advice comes into play.

Meaning: we got a cat. Now I'll admit this one is potentially not manageable for you what with allergies and pet restrictions and logistics and whatever, but honestly if you like pets and don't mind the responsibilities, not only will you end up with a wonderful companion, you will also never, ever find a more reliable or tenacious alarm clock. In our house the meowing and trampling commences immediately upon the sound of the first alarm, and continues until the bed is completely empty of human occupants. It doesn't even matter if you feed him, somehow he's gotten it into his fuzzy weird cat-brain that No Humans Are To Be Horizontal After 6AM (Exceptions Made For Afternoon Naps On The Futon). Any slackers shall endure the Pokey Paws of Pain and the Almighty Whisker of Peril (a last-ditch tactic that goes up your left nostril and apparently makes contact with your frontal lobe.)

And indeed, no humans have been horizontal after 6AM in our house since the day he arrived, adorable fuzzy little bastard that he is.
posted by lonefrontranger at 10:56 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

When we were in high school, a cousin of mine swore by putting her alarm clock on the other side of the room and setting it to a station that played Mexican music.
posted by luckynerd at 10:56 AM on June 13, 2011

What works for me:
I set my 1st alarm for an hour earlier than I actually want to get up and put my ADHD meds (Dexedrine and Pristiq) in front of my alarm clock with a glass of water. When it goes off, I take the meds and turn off the alarm. The 2nd alarm is set for the actual time I want to get up, but I'm usually awake, on my own, 45 minutes after I take my meds. Not sure what you are taking for your EDS, or if you take it daily, this is just what works for me. I am always getting new alarm clocks just because they aren't obnoxious enough for me, so I'm watching this thread with anticipation. :)
posted by Amalie-Suzette at 11:09 AM on June 13, 2011

In my younger days, I often had the same problem. The way I got up anyway was using THREE alarm clocks; all three were set to go off at the same time, but:
#1 was next to the bed, on the bedside table;
#2 was UNDER the bed, far enough under that I had to actually get down on the floor to reach it; (don't use an electric, I guarentee it's very easy to fish an electric clock out by the cord, hit snooze and go back to sleep!)
#3 was all the way across the room. (try to find a spot that'll force you to reach or dig for it)

It works even better if you can set them each on something that'll vibrate & increase the alarm noise, like a metal cookie sheet.
posted by easily confused at 1:19 PM on June 13, 2011

A plug-in timer would allow you to make the tv or any device come on at a pre-set time for an hour, or however long you like. For fun, here's another concept: an alarm clock that shreds your money.
posted by kitcat at 2:00 PM on June 13, 2011

I recommend the Moshi voice-activated alarm clock.

Every morning:
Musical "duh duh duh" / Church bells (which grow louder and louder every 10 seconds or so.)
I wake up enough to say groggily, "Turn alarm off."
Moshi doesn't hear me, and keeps playing the alarm.
I clear my throat and say in a slightly louder than conversational tone, "Turn. Alarm. OFF!"

And this can go on, anywhere from getting it the first time to 5 times in a row without turning off, and Moshi finishes with a "Good morning!! The time is! Six! fif-teen A-M! The date is June thir-teenth, two-thousand ee-lev-en!" Doesn't -quite- have the pauses indicated, but after you hear her (female voice) for a while, you pick up on them and start replying to her with the same tone and inflection in order to get her to pick up on your orders.

Moshi can be a real deaf pain in the ass. The following goes on almost every time, depending on how often I need to reset one or both alarms.

"Hel-lo Moshi!"
"Co-mmand please."
"Set. Alarm."
"Please choose a-larm one or a-larm two."
"A-larm two!"
"Please say the alarm time."
"Six-Fif-TEEN AM"
"Alarm two is set to: Six. Fifty-AM!"
"You bitch!"
"You're welcome!"

This can go on for up to 5 minutes, and either setting the alarm or turning it off (along with any other commands) can be difficult when you have, let's say, a cold. If you have a very heavy accent (French, Deep South, trouble pronouncing some words like "time" so they turn out more like "tame" or "tahm") I wouldn't recommend it.

She also responds to movies and music sometimes, so I tend to turn her volume down. Also, if a power outage happens, do remember to set her alarm sound - otherwise, it goes straight to (in my case) a fuzz only radio station, and you won't wake up (so definitely still keep a battery run backup).

Seriously though, overall, Moshi is very helpful in waking me up. It's just that sometimes, she's that coworker who gives you the annual financial report when all you asked for was the finance manager's e-mail address. Be patient with her, and she'll treat you well.
posted by DisreputableDog at 2:31 PM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Moshi is EVIL. Before my BF and I started cohabitating we'd talk on the phone every night and something would inevitably trigger her.

So in the middle of a shmoopy conversation I'd hear COMMAND PLEASE? and then he'd have to shout CANCEL.

Now that he's moved in I won't let him put her in our bedroom because I can just imagine how annoying Moshi coitus interruptus would be.

Also I'd like to second Sleep Cycle for iPhone and a sunrise alarm clock. I have this Homedics one that you can use with your own lamp. It's pretty cool.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:32 PM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Most of the remedies seem to center around forcing yourself to wake up, but is there anything to timing your sleep so you're in the lightest sleep cycle (and less prone to misery) when you do wake up? I've read that multiples of 1.5 hours is most effective, so that 6 hours of sleep would actually be more restful than 7. But for those of us without smartphone apps, I guess it would be a little harder to time everything narrowly enough.

Alternatively, I've read that it's best not to nap more than 20 minutes, otherwise you'd fall into a deeper sleep. So based on that, would setting a snooze at 20 minutes for an overnight sleep be effective? I guess I'll try that tonight.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 1:06 AM on June 14, 2011

Response by poster: Cheers all, I've ordered one of those Philips clocks to add to my arsenal. I'll try that in combo with the same wake time/not going to bed till my eyes are droopy, and keeping my provigil/modafinil by the bed instead of taking it with breakfast.

Sleep hygiene's pretty good at the mo, don't read in bed, PC and TV are in a separate room. fingers crossed this'll help for a bit, and I'm going to work on my time locked radio idea.
posted by MattWPBS at 3:39 PM on June 14, 2011

Response by poster: (oh, and old fashioned alarm clocks are out of the question, the ticking keeps me awake. Go figure.)
posted by MattWPBS at 3:40 PM on June 14, 2011

I ordered the Philips clock recommended upthread myself, and it's already made a dramatic difference for me -- gone are the days of snoozing for 60-90 mins. at a time!
posted by scody at 9:02 AM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

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