Is there a worse way to start your day then with the shrill ringing of an alarm clock? I have no doubt that millions upon millions of Americans, and most probably in every single country in the world hates waking up to that sound (I imagine a remote African tribe waking up angrily to the sound of a crowing rooster as well). Unfortunately, despite the near global hatred against alarm clocks, almost everybody on earth has one, much in the same way that many people hate their jobs but have one anyway; they’re a necessity.
While waking up at certain time is certainly an unavoidable necessity for the vast majority of people in the world, there is a certainly an ideal time to wake up based on our sleep cycles. For reference, there are five sleep cycles, Stage I to IV followed by REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. Each sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes (meaning on average an adult will go through about 4 to 5 sleep cycles a night) and the best time to wake up is at the end of your REM cycle, which will leave you feeling the most energized and refreshed. By contrast, waking up in Stage IV or the REM stage will leave you feeling disoriented and groggy.
If you often sleep late or have bad sleeping habits (such as having weird sleeping positions), that’s when you’ll wake up to neck pains, back aches and so on. This is because the body does not have the time to repair itself properly. Nap times during the day is not sufficient to compensate for lack of sleep at night. Likewise, using the wrong pillow can have a significant impact on whether you’ll end up with shoulder or neck pain in the morning. Try getting the best pillow for neck pain if you suffer from neck pain issues. Just don’t forget that a real good night’s sleep is also essential if you wish to be rid of all these body pain issues.
As our understanding of sleep cycles has improved, so too has our technology to fully optimize our sleep. You may have heard of popular cellphone apps such as the Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock, which works by using your phone’s microphone or accelerometer to determine which sleep cycle you are in and then slowly wakes you up (over a period of 30 minutes or so) based on whatever time you set your alarm for. Based on the reviews for this app, it seems that many users find it vastly superior to the traditional alarm clock.
Based on this knowledge, you too can easily time your own sleep cycles by making you sure you wake up in 90 minutes blocks, e.g. set your alarm to get six to six and a half hours of sleep, but not seven hours as that would put your smack in the middle of stage IV sleep. Nevertheless, even when you time your wake up time to be in the early sleep cycles, getting up to a blaring alarm clock is still extremely annoying. That is why some innovators have created these ‘Alarm Clock Pillows’ to replace that annoying ringing device you feel like smashing against the wall every morning. Let’s take a look at two of such pillows.
- Alarm Clock Pillow by Seung Jun Jeong – This stylish pillow works by gently vibrating your head until you wake up. It even comes with a weight detecting sensor, so it will know that your lazy head is still on it and keep vibrating. Obviously this can be easily beat by simply switching pillows or simply going without, but at some point you’ve got to take personal responsibility right? The only gripe with this product is that you set the alarm by pulling out a tab in the side that goes by the number of hours; meaning that you can’t set it to give your six and a half hours of sleep, for example, just six or seven. This pillow is available from Yanko Design.
- Glo Pillow – Instead of shaking you awake like the vibrating pillow above, this one aims to replicate you gradually waking up to the rising sun like you are on some picturesque camping trip in Yellowstone National Park. To achieve this it uses a cutting-edge LED fabric substrate that literally allows the pillowcase to slowly light up over a 40 minute period AND displays the time as well when you wake! This is triggered by a weight sensor, so when you lift your head off the pillow, it then displays the current time. The controls for the pillow can be found via a soft flap attached to the side of the pillow. Unfortunately at this point in time, the Glo Pillow is still only a concept; here’s to hoping that it can find some investors and a market soon!
On another note, I have seen some alarm clocks that were designed to fit under your pillow and wake you up with vibration, that is something you could do if you aren’t able to get a hold of an alarm clock pillow; I’ve also seen some DIY solutions by setting your phone’s alarm to vibrate only and placing it under your pillow.