Does this insomnia "clock" exist? If not, can I make it somehow?
January 8, 2021 7:56 AM   Subscribe

When I wake up in the night and cannot go back to sleep, my preference is to rest quietly in bed if it's before 4am, or get up and start my day if it's after 4am. So, in a nutshell, I need to know whether it's before or after 4am, without knowing anything else about the time.

I do not want to use my phone at all, and I would strongly prefer not to know the exact time. I also need to "request" the information from my bed somehow (e.g. I could push a button and a tiny, dim light would come on if it was after 4). I thought of using a little light on a timer, but I don't want the info unless I "ask" for it - I think it would wake me up fully sometimes when I would otherwise fall back asleep. Any ideas?
posted by zibra to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: How about a light on a timer under a cover?
posted by katrielalex at 8:04 AM on January 8, 2021 [2 favorites]

Can you put one of those night lights (link for example) on a timer that comes on at 4am?
posted by london explorer girl at 8:06 AM on January 8, 2021 [7 favorites]

Any kind of one-touch night-light/tap light/lamp-with-a-button-or-touch switch/whatever on a timer would do this. Keep it on the nightstand, tap it when you wake up in the night, and it will only turn on if it's after 4am.
posted by wreckingball at 8:09 AM on January 8, 2021 [6 favorites]

They do have that kind of clock for toddlers (green = ok to go to parents’ bedroom, red = stay in bed). It’s called an ‘ok to wake clock’, amazon has a bunch of options, example.
posted by The Toad at 8:11 AM on January 8, 2021 [32 favorites]

A smart lightbulb like Phillips Hue would work for this. You can pre-automate/schedule light colours via an app (you wouldn't have to use the app in the moment), and the "low" setting is very low. So before 4am, very dim red, after 4am very dim purple?

Having used the "ok to wake" clocks for my kids, I found the indicator lights are very bright.
posted by lizifer at 8:15 AM on January 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

The Soundcore Anker speaker/clock allows you to turn off the display of the time at night through the app. So, you can set it not to show the time until after 4 am. If you wake up and there is no time shown, then it is not 4 am yet.
posted by bruinfan at 8:17 AM on January 8, 2021 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I think the outlet timer option is the way to go, and then you can plug anything into it that has a manual on-off switch and even better if it has a lighted on/off switch like a power strip. That way you get the information you want when you switch it on without trashing your night vision.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:32 AM on January 8, 2021 [2 favorites]

I could push a button and a tiny, dim light would come on if it was after 4). I thought of using a little light on a timer, but I don't want the info unless I "ask" for it

What if instead of pushing a button, you lifted a flap or some kind of covering? Basically put a night light on a timer, and hide it under a top hat or nice wooden bowl some other opaque and aesthetically acceptable container.
posted by aubilenon at 9:00 AM on January 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

I do this with a cheap travel clock that sits on my nightstand: the unlit LED is much too dim to read in the dark, so I have to push the button to light it up and see the time. If I don't push the button, I remain blissfully ignorant of what time it is.

I do think the OK to Wake clock is probably a closer fit for what you want, though.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:08 AM on January 8, 2021

Could you take a standard digital clock and put tape over the minutes? Then you would just see the hour.
posted by sacrifix at 9:16 AM on January 8, 2021

Take a regular LED clock, put tape over everything except the top-left segment of the 1s digit for hours. During the night that segment will be off for 1, 2, 3, 7 but lit for 0, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9.
posted by zengargoyle at 9:35 AM on January 8, 2021 [8 favorites]

The Hatch Rest is a slightly more sleek/sophisticated version of an ok to wake clock. You can program and control the timing/color/brightness from your phone. I have ours in the kids' room and it's programmed to be pink overnight and turn green at 7am when they're allowed to come out. But you could just have it stay off until 4am.

posted by lomes at 10:18 AM on January 8, 2021

It looks like that product is maybe called the Hatch Restore? That looks pretty cool and seems like it might be a good fit for the OP (and possibly for a member of my family). Are you happy with it, lomes?
posted by The Bellman at 10:36 AM on January 8, 2021

outlet timer like this one, as others have said, seems like the simplest most low tech and cheapest solution. Hue system seems way too fiddly for you, if you don't want it to involve your phone. These outlet timers work well and are old analog technology, so ..that's awesome in my book. i see these in thrift stores for $1 - $3 bucks all the time. they have them at hardware stores too.
posted by elgee at 10:54 AM on January 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

My Aerogarden serves this purpose for me! Because you set the LED turn on time, I know the after/before time by the light that comes into my bedroom from the setup in the kitchen. Bonus - fresh herbs in January.
posted by Dotty at 12:38 PM on January 8, 2021

Response by poster: Thank you thank you, I was almost there! Small light on a timer, but then I need to add a cover - that'll do it.
posted by zibra at 1:41 PM on January 8, 2021

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