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Rethink Your Wake-Up

Cory Ohlendorf

Your alarm choice can affect how you feel in the morning

Want to feel more alert in the morning? Of course you do. We all do. We should rise feeling fresh, ready to greet the day and take care of business. So how exactly do we make that happen? The amount of sleep we get at night plays a big role, of course. But nearly as important is your choice in wake-up calls. We’re talking about your alarm. A man has a lot of options these days, but the vast majority of us simply tap the alarm app on our phones and call it a day. That means we’re messing with our phones right before bed - not a great idea - and checking our phones first thing after we wake up - again, not the best way to keep stress at bay. Neuroscientist Chris Winter, MD, a sleep expert and author of the book, The Sleep Solution recommends a proper, dedicated alarm clock. But not just any alarm. Your sleep style should influence your choice in clock - from analog clocks without a snooze button to machines that wake you with simulated sunrises or earthquakes.

Playbook alarm

For the natural

If you get enough proper rest, your body should awaken on its own due to your circadian rhythms. This, of course, is the best option according to Winter. Think about those times when you’ve woken up just before your alarm, feeling revived and energetic. That’s because you likely go to bed and get up at the same time. If your sleep is consistent, Winter says your brain will naturally transition from your final cycle of dreaming into lighter sleep so you wake up at your regular alarm time.

Playbook alarm

For the troubled sleeper

If you have difficulty getting to sleep consider a smarter alarm option. This one comes with customizable sleep-inducing ambient sounds and the LED display automatically dims in low light and can be adjusted or turned off entirely. Choose from 15 individual alarm melodies or have it sync with your phone’s music or podcast library. A recent study found that when people were jolted awake by harsh sounds, they felt groggier throughout the morning than when they woke up to music. The fact that it wirelessly charges your phone - that’s an added bonus.

Playbook Alarm Troubled Sleeper Bluetooth wireless charging alarm, $74 by Anker

For the snooze-addict

Rafael Pelayo, MD, a sleep specialist at Stanford University, says that when your alarm goes off again, it shocks your body and brain, resulting in that groggy feeling called sleep inertia, which can last for hours. Pelayo recommends setting your alarm for the time you'd typically snooze to (when you really have to be up), then actually getting up right when it goes off. This analog clock doesn’t have a snooze button, forcing you to get up right after it buzzes.

Playbook Alarm Snooze AddictWideboy alarm clock, $49 by Newgate

For the hibernator

If you sleep hard, a standard alarm likely won’t rouse you from a solid slumber. A vibrating alarm clock, like the Sonic Alert (which has been the best-reviewed and most-recommended option for four decades), tackles it all. First, there’s a super loud alarm clock sound, followed by flashing lights. Finally, a vibration pad, which is tucked under your mattress, shakes the bed to ensure you wake up.

Playbook Alarm Hibernator Dual alarm clock with bed shaker, $34.95 by Sonic Alert

For sensitive sleepers

If you’re a light sleeper or are rattled by the jarring sounds of alarms, you can make your wake-up a bit more pleasant. Invest in some blackout shades to keep your room nice and dark (making it easier to stay asleep) and then swap an audible alarm for one that simulates dawn by gradually brightening the room. You can also accompany the light with gentler sounds that get louder as the room gets brighter. The result is less abrupt and more natural.

Playbook Alarm Sensitive SmartSleep light therapy alarm clock, $89.57 by Philips

 

* FYI: A 2017 study found that regular physical activity and a solid sleep schedule can help you hate your job less and feel less stressed at the end of the day.

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