Waking up is never easy, especially if you don’t get to do it according to your own body clock. Alarm clocks have been used for more than a century for pulling people out of a deep slumber, evolving in sophistication along the way.
Many people today use a smartphone to wake up, but there are still benefits to an alarm clock. Not only can you easily see the time without peering at your screen, but using a clock also frees you from the burden of having your smartphone next to you as you sleep. An alarm clock also gives you a wider range of options as to how you’ll be awoken.
If it’s been a while since you’ve gone alarm clock shopping, you may be surprised to hear about the many options now available. You can still get the standard digital alarm clock that lets you choose between disruptive beeps and other noises versus waking up to a local radio station. But there are also alarm clocks that sync to your phone, letting you wake up to music from your playlist and alarm clocks that use light therapy techniques to mimic the sunrise.
We put several alarm clocks to the test to help you determine which one is right for you.
Why We Like It: If you’ve struggled to see the display on your alarm clock or you just need a little help here and there, the American Lifetime digital alarm clock is the perfect one for you. In our testing, we found the text to be large and incredibly easy to read, plus the alarm clock also tells you the day of the week and general part of the day. You can also set reminders throughout the day to make sure you don’t forget to take your medication. As an added bonus, we like the fact that American Lifetime donates 10% of sale proceeds to charities focused on dementia research, adult education and social services.
Why We Like It: Though this no-frills RCA alarm clock won’t break the bank, it still gets the job done and offers some useful features for the price. You can customize the brightness to keep your room dark while you sleep. You’ll also get convenient buttons, including a wide snooze button that will be a big help during those groggy early waking moments. Plus, the text is huge, so you can see the time from across the room.
We also like that you have the option of installing a back-up battery (though it’s not included) so that you won’t be late for work if the power goes out in the middle of the night.
Why We Like It: The design of the iHome Bluetooth Color Changing Dual Alarm Clock is like no other. It offers a round display and five different colors that can change at the press of a button.
You’ll also get Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to play music from your smartphone and even wake to your favorite songs. We found this alarm clock to be incredibly customizable, so you can really tailor your wake-up experience to suit your preferences.
Tips and Advice
- Alarm clocks have gone high-tech. Gone are the days when your alarm clock simply woke you up. Some alarm clocks offer extra information, including the day of the week and whether it’s morning, afternoon, night or evening. Some even offer alerts that remind you when it’s time to take your medication, while others can be used as bedside lamps to read at bedtime each night — as it gets closer to your preferred bedtime, the lamp on some models can dim slowly to gradually ease you into sleep.
- You’ll want to consider where you’ll be placing your alarm clock in your bedroom. Some models offer numbers that are prominent enough for you to make them out from across the room, even in your sleepiest state or without your glasses on.
- Brightness preferences can vary dramatically from one person to the next. Some alarm clocks offer a high/low brightness control that lets you find exactly the level of light you want your clock to put out.
- Simple designs also mean easier operation. Some alarm clocks have easy-to-use buttons and wide snooze buttons for those mornings when you just can’t get going.
- Some alarm clocks allow you to customize the light to the intensity that works best for you to mimic sunlight streaming into your room. Thirty minutes before your scheduled wake-up time, the simulated sunrise will begin, reaching full intensity at the end of that time period.
- If you want to wake up to your own music, consider an alarm clock that can also play tunes. Some models come with built-in speakers and offer Bluetooth connectivity that will allow you to stream music from your smartphone. There are also alarm clocks that wake you up with FM radio.
- If the power dies overnight, what will happen to your alarm the following morning? With a battery backup, you’ll be covered no matter what. Some models offer backup for up to eight hours after a power failure.
- Wondering about the history of alarm clocks? In ancient China, candle clocks were used to keep track of time. A candle clock combined wax and nails, with the nails hitting a metal plate once the wax melted beyond a certain point. The noise served to wake up nearby sleepers. In 725, an engineer in China came up with something known as the “water clock,” which used a water wheel and gears to set off gongs at specific times.
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