These days, it seems that an alarm clock can't just make a noise at a given time in order to wake us up: We sleep too deeply, and in too-comfortable beds, and with too much NyQuil coursing through our veins to just pop right up and into our slacks when we hear a set of chimes.
A new app for Android called "Sleep If U Can" (not to be confused with a similarly-named Britney Spears song) addresses this modern conundrum in a creative way: It's an alarm clock that will not stop ringing until you are physically out of bed, at a location in your home, taking a photo of a given item. It's like a scavenger hunt you have to complete to silence your alarm every morning; at the end of hunt, you're out of your bed and (hopefully) wide awake.
Here's how it works: When you first download the app, Sleep If U Can asks you to photograph a bunch of different locations or items in your home (locations or items, it is important to note, that are not so close to your bed that you can just roll over, snap a pic, and then collapse back onto your drool pillow). Then, each time your alarm goes off afterwards, Sleep If U Can shows you a different photograph: Your alarm will keep sounding until you maneuver your sleepy carcass to that spot and take an identical picture with your smartphone's camera. Once the app detects a photographic match, the shrill, dastardly alarm will cease, at which point you should be awake.
(WARNING: If you are living in a small apartment or dorm with roommates, this app will make them hate you).
You can watch the Sleep If U Can alarm app in action in this promotional video:
The makers of Sleep If U Can -- a company called Delight Room -- are hardly the first to innovate around the persistent problem of American Over-Snoozing. Indeed, we've profiled plenty of inventive alarm clocks in the past, including one that you have to shake really hard, an alarm clock on wheels that you have to chase around the room to shut off, and the Ramos Clock, the so-called "World's Most Annoying Alarm Clock" that also forces sleepyheads to physically remove themselves from the bed before stopping. Innovative alarm clocks, in fact, are somewhat of a mini-industry: It seems like every day we hear about a newer, crazier, more obnoxious waker-upper.
Add "Sleep If U Can" to that list.
You can try it out for free on your Android device by downloading it from the Google Play Store right here.
It would be pretty easy to catch an alarm clock on wheels in my shoebox apartment here in Manhattan, but for those of you with larger bedrooms, the Clocky Alarm Clock is sure to get you (physically) out of bed. After you hit snooze on the Clocky for the first time, it gets a' movin,' jumping down from your nighstand and onto your floor and then rolling around on its wheels; the alarm doesn't stop until you catch it and disable it. Perhaps this will make you wake up more quickly, or perhaps it will lead you to fall asleep prostrate on the floor clutching your alarm clock. The Clocky Alarm Clock On Wheels is available on Amazon for $39.99.
First, this alarm clock from Amplicom is really loud -- Amplicom specializes in products for the hard-of-hearing and deaf. Second, it comes with an optional vibrating disc, about the size of a large hamburger, which the sleepyhead can place in his bed, or under his pillow, or in his pajamas (if he can sleep that way); when the alarm goes off in the morning, in addition to the noise coming from the actual clock, the disc shakes. You might awake from a nightmare about an earthquake, but you'll be awake. The clock can also talk: When you hit the snooze bar it reads out the date, day and time in a harsh voice. Available from Amplicom for $99.
This $1 iPhone app is our cheapest alarm clock option, and it is also one of our least relaxing: The Wake N Shake Merciless Alarm Clock requires you to do a whole lotta shakin' in order to turn off your alarm in the morning (or afternoon...). No mercy for the tired or hungover: You have to shake this thing HARD to get it to shut up. Watch a video demo above. Available in the iTunes Store for $0.99.
One of the functions of Jawbone's Up wristband is a silent alarm clock, sending a silent pulse up your body to wake you up peacefully, but that's not all it does: The Up claims to measure your sleep patterns and daily activities to wake you up at the perfect time in your sleep cycle so that you are most refreshed at the time the Up goes off. Watch the video above for more (and head to the Jawbone homepage to see what how else the Up can improve your miserable life). The Up is available from Jawbone in several colors for $99.
The folks at Lark call their wristband an "un-alarm clock"; like the Up, the Lark connects to an iOS app that tracks and analyzes your sleeping patterns to better facilitate a pleasant wake-up. Again, you are awoken by pulses to the wrist (and also an audible alarm, if you tug off the Lark in your sleep); also again, the Lark lets you know how you can improve your sleep patterns to wake up better. The Lark is, like the Jawbone Up, $99, available on its official website. iPhone not included.
Here's an inventive one: When your alarm goes off in the morning, it shoots up in the air a little toy helicopter; in order to silence the alarm, you have to retrieve the helicopter and place it back into its dock. Until then, the alarm will continue to shriek, and shriek, and shriek. Don't use this one next to an open window if you live in a skyscraper. The Flying Alarm Clock is available from ThinkGeek for $19.99.
What started as a concept alarm clock is now a very cool reality: nootropic design will send you the wires and the clock, and you provide the fake dynamite (or the fake plastic explosive) for your morning Mission: Impossible sequence. Cut the correct wire or the "bomb" "explodes" (really just a cute little light show). It takes a bit of DIY to construct a clock like the one above, but if you make a good defusable alarm clock, then it sure is a good conversation starter. Not recommended for those prone to stress dreams. Kit available from nootropic design for $32.95 (additional bundles of wires for $2.95).