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Most of us are used to being jarred awake by the blare of an alarm clock. (And some of us hit snooze … more than once.) Technically, though, if you’re getting all the sleep you need and waking at the same time each day, your body should be set so that you rise naturally without needing an alarm clock, said "The Sleep Doctor" Michael Breus, PhD, author of "The Power of When."
But that's a fantasy for most of us, so let’s be realistic: you probably need an alarm clock. So here's what to look for when you get one.
How to shop for an alarm clock
- Consider your personal likes. You no longer have to suffer through a loud BEEP-BEEP-BEEP if you don’t want to. There are many models out on there that do pretty cool things, like wake you up with light, vibrations or even smells.
- Consider your partner. This is self-explanatory, but if you sleep with someone else in your bed, it may be wise to pick a clock that wakes you up with a vibration or something else that won't wake your partner.
- Make sure it will actually work for you. Considering its entire purpose is to get you up, you don’t want to choose one that’s going to be totally ineffective for you if you’re a heavy sleeper. Or, maybe, you like to feel calm when you wake up, or don’t want to hear a sound at all — all totally possible.
- Try keeping an alarm clock across the room. Breus suggests either setting one up by the bed and one across the room, or having a single one across the room. “The only problem is that with this set up, you’ll wake up your bed partner,” he said. So, it might not be perfect for folks who share a room.
An alarm clock can also tell you how well you’re sleeping. Katie Letourneau, adult and pediatric sleep coach and the owner of Sleeping BIG and Sleeping Littles, said, “If you find yourself dragging yourself out of bed in the morning, particularly after hitting snooze several times, go to bed 30 minutes earlier for a week and see what happens." If you still can’t get up, then move up bedtime 15 minutes earlier until you start to wake up naturally around the time your alarm goes off.
On the other hand, if you’re someone who routinely wakes up before your alarm, “you may be trying to get more sleep than your body actually requires, which does happen,” Letourneau added. Either relax for an extra 30 minutes in the evening (sans screens) or “embrace the quiet gift of having a slow opportunity to wake up each morning,” she said.
Now that you know how to use them, here are the best alarm clock choices you can find on the market.
The best alarm clocks, according to sleep experts
“I love alarm clocks that simulate natural light,” said Christine Hansen of Sleep Like A Boss, who counsels CEOs and executives how to get a minimum of seven hours of sleep every night. Like the Philips model, these emit a gentle light that gets stronger — kind of like you’re waking up with the sun, something that can be particularly pleasant and refreshing.
Letourneau recommends this vibrating concept if you travel frequently. And, it’s great for travel. Hotel alarm clocks are often iffy and emit such bright light that they disrupt your sleep. Having one you know you can rely on will go a long way toward a sound slumber and smooth wake-up.
Another travel option that can wake you with a combo of strong vibration, sound and flashing light, this one is rated highly by users who say they’ve searched high and low for the perfect portable clock and finally found their match.
These may be best for you if you sleep with blackout shades or wake up when it’s still dark out, said Breus. “Some parents tell me kids love them,” he added. This model has sunset and sunrise modes, has sounds like soothing white noise, beach waves or rooster calls and can play the radio, too.
If you have kiddos, this is a favorite for the little ones. Mention that you’re getting early morning visits from your kids long before the sun gets up, and fellow moms and dads will tell you to get the OK to Wake! Set the alarm to the time you’re comfortable with the kids getting up, and it’ll glow green when it’s okay for them to get out of bed.
“I've used it personally with both of my kids, and they just loved it. It's a simple clock that does exactly what it needs to do, offers additional tools like a nap timer, ability to be silent or use a noise alarm, and kids love the face and the fact that you can switch up the look,” said Letourneau.
Bestselling alarm clocks for snoozers
Are you someone who needs an extra push to get up in the morning? This clock has three alarms to better wake you up, along with a weekday mode that only goes off from Monday to Friday. Have we also mentioned its modern wooden design makes it a great decorative piece for your bedroom?
Replicating the morning sunrise, this clock uses a warm LED light that gradually brightens a half hour before your alarm goes off. During non-sleeping hours, you can change its appearance with eight colorful lighting options.
Sometimes simple is best when it comes to an alarm clock, and this one fulfills all of your basic alarm clock needs: adjustable brightness, a single alarm system, large illuminated numerals for those with impaired vision. But, as an added bonus, it also has a USB port to charge your phone while you're dreaming the night away.
If you'd rather not roll over to check whether you should wake up, this alarm clock has a 180° swivel projection that can display the time anywhere in your bedroom. It also has five alarm sounds ranging from calming (ocean waves and birds) to abrupt (FM radio waves and ringtones).
With six brightness levels, an auto dim feature, a temperature and humidity tracker and large readable numbers, it's no wonder over 1,500 Amazon customers gave this straightforward alarm clock a perfect five-star rating.
Another Amazon bestseller, the Echo Dot will be a sleek, modern addition to any bedroom. Along with an easy-to-read LED display, the smart speaker delivers crisp vocals and is compatible with other smart home devices. Curious about the weather or want to hear the news? Alexa's got you covered.
For more stories like this, check out:
- 6 expert-approved weighted blankets to release stress and snooze soundly
- The best silk pillowcases to tame your hair while you sleep
- Is it time for a new bed frame? These stylish options are under $450
- From an innovative sleep device to a cooling pillow, 12 unique finds for better sleep
This article was originally published on Jan. 31, 2019.