I'm not a big proponent of alarm clocks because I believe that if you have your sleep-wake rhythm aligned correctly and you get up at the same time every day, then you shouldn't need one. But I understand that alarm clocks are very practical to have and for many, it's unrealistic to live without one.
Oh, and wouldn't it be fun to be an alarm clock designer? After I spent some time looking for some of the quirkiest alarm clocks out there, I began to wonder what it'd be like to force an engineering class to have a contest whereby each student had to come up with a crazy alarm clock. (Rest assured this has already been assigned as some of the premier schools; one of the ones below is the product of a student project at MIT. Can you guess which one?)
Let me share some of the wild ones I found:
First, there's the Da Vinci Alarm Clock. It works much in the way Leonardo liked to sleep--supporting "polyphasic" sleep. This means you're taking frequent naps throughout the day rather than sleeping in one fell swoop at night.
This clock, which you can see here, as well as below, follows a 3.5/5 sleep schedule. That's right: you will hear the alarm go off every 3.5 hours, indicating it's nap time. Then another alarm will sound 30 minute later, indicating it's wake time. Okay, so this isn't so practical for most of us with "real" jobs. But you gotta wonder, is this what made Leonardo so creative and productive?
How about Clocky. This one, equipped with wheels, will roll off your nightstand if you don't get up at the first ring. Then it will move around your room driving you crazy as it looks for a place to hide and continue to ring.
The Sunshine Voice Activated clock, seen here to the left, can pick up on your voice commands, then try waking you up with them. If you don't record your own message, it will resort to using a Rooster (yikes!) and Nature sounds. It can also talk to you, responding to questions like "What time is it?" and commands like "Snooze" and "Play Memo."
My personal favorite so far is the Wake 'n Bacon. You guessed it: this gizmo looks more like a bedside Easy-Bake Oven meets Piggy Bank toy. About ten minutes before your wake time, it will start cooking bacon using two halogen lamps that slow-cook your strips, which of course you inserted the night before frozen. So you wake up to the mouth-watering, alerting smell of, well...you know. BACON! Not that bacon is the ideal choice for breakfast, but maybe you can use turkey bacon, too.
And if you don't like any of the above ideas, I invite you to check out this article that details the top 10 most annoying alarm clocks. Truly, there are some hysterical, innovative, and sleep-busting gems listed. Clocky made the list, which is the brainchild of that MIT project I mentioned earlier.
Got an alarm clock you absolutely love? Or one you want to throw out the window? Send me your ideas and links to your faves. I don't think the world can ever have too many innovative alarm clocks. Or can it?
Follow Dr. Michael J. Breus on Twitter: www.twitter.com/thesleepdoctor