Waking up in the morning is a struggle for most people. The blaring alarm, leaving the warmth and comfort of bed, and the dread of the upcoming day make those first few moments in the morning some of the worst.
What if, though, your alarm clock helped to ease you into the day? What if, instead of being jolted from sleep by loud beeping you awoke to the smell of bacon? Or what if your alarm clock physically slapped you awake?
As a college student, I know firsthand how hard it can be to wake up in the morning, especially after a late night of writing papers or cramming for tests. I’ve slept through my alarm more than once, and often wondered if there’s an alternative to the largely ineffective classic audio encouragement.
As it turns out, there are quite a few.
Last year, an 18-year-old named Guillaume Rolland invented a clock called SensorWake, an olfactory alarm clock that wakes people up with their favorite scents, from espresso and hot croissant to ginger and peppermint (and each clock comes with a free “Toast” capsule). After securing €192,453 in Kickstarter funding, almost quadruple the goal, Rolland and his team have begun producing their clocks. The device even won an Innovation Award at CES 2016.
While an interesting concept, I know that I would have trouble waking up just based on smell alone, despite the fact that Rolland gives a 99 percent guarantee that the clock will wake you up in two minutes or less. I need more of a catalyst to help me emerge from my dreams. The clock has a backup sound option, but if I’m going to use sound to wake me up, I might as well continue using my traditional alarm clock. Or something a little more aggressive…
For people who may be stuck in a rut with their New Year’s resolutions, there’s the Shape Up alarm clock. Shaped like a dumbbell, this device requires someone to shake it thirty times to shut it off. Just make sure to hold on tight to it or expect a neighbor on the other side of a wall to be your new alarm clock.
For me, this seems more useful, especially since with a busy college student’s schedule, I don’t always have time to hit the gym (not that this much of a substitute). However, I always find a way around working out because I’m lazy, so with this one, I’d be back to square one: using a traditional alarm.
There’s also technology like The Barisieur, an alarm clock that also serves as a coffee maker. You set it up the night before, encouraging a relaxing ritual before sleep (according to the website) and then you wake up to the smell and taste of hot coffee next to you in bed.
Personally, as someone who is often confused and erratic first thing in the morning, I know I would be counting down the days until I spilled hot coffee on my face as a wake-up – not ideal. This one is a hard pass for me.
Finally, there’s Ruggie, a memory foam mat/alarm clock that will only turn off after the user stands on it for three seconds. Branded as the “world’s best alarm clock” on its Kickstarter page, the project has raised over $150K so far – more than double their goal – with over a month of fundraising still to go.
Of all the alternatives I researched, this one is the most appealing for me. I’ve found that once I’m out of bed, I’m much more likely to stay out of bed – my current alarm clock setup, as with most people’s, allows me to stay in bed. And while I really like my sleep and need more than three seconds of resistance to deter me from climbing back into bed, the Ruggie does allow you to program custom alarm durations.
While all very creative, I find these clocks to be more gimmick than practical tool. Since the advent of electricity, humans have literally been using bells and whistles to wake them up in the morning – we don’t need extraneous features. And there seems to be little scientific evidence, if any, that our choice of alarm clock sounds, or types for that matter, have any effect on the type of morning a person will have.
As far as I can tell, if your current alarm doesn’t wake you up, there’s no reason to believe that an alternative alarm will do any better. An alarm, after all, is just a machine; once it’s off, the ball is once again in your court. You, as a person, hold the volition and willpower to get out of bed each morning, and no alarm can make you any less tired or lazy. Unless your alarm is your mother – she can be pretty persuasive.
Patrick Hoff is a senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who has spent the last three years writing and editing at his college newspaper, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian. He has written for a number of publications, including Jyrno and The Daily Hampshire Gazette in Northampton, Massachusetts, as well as writing for the blog at the Institute for Community Inclusion.
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