Sleep & Mornings

The Best Alarm Clocks for Sleepyheads

Say goodbye to frazzled mornings with alarms designed with the ADHD brain in mind. You’ll never sleep in again with features like vibration, aromatherapy, and even a simulated sunrise that give your brain an early-morning boost.

The Best ADHD Tools: Alarm Clocks
The Best ADHD Tools: Alarm Clocks

Like many other adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD), I struggle to wake up in the morning. My alarm clock buzzes, chortles, and even vibrates, but I have an amazing talent for turning it off and going back to sleep.

My clients (I’m an ADHD coach) are equally talented. Despite their best efforts to get out of bed on time, many are late to rise on a daily basis. I’ve had them try setting multiple alarm clocks, positioning their alarm clocks across the room, even placing alarm clocks inside their pillows. All to no avail. Surely there’s an ADHD tool that will help them rise and shine. Right?

When I began my quest, I found a lot of great timers, but little in the way of a surefire alarm clock.

[Free Resource: Mobile Apps for Better Sleep]

The closest I found was the Shake Awake ($17.99). Unfortunately, this vibrating, tuck-inside-your-pillow device didn’t create enough of a ruckus for sleepyheads like my clients and me. We need a foghorn.

Then it occurred to me: adults with ADHD aren’t the only folks who have trouble waking. How about people who are seeing- or hearing-impaired? A few mouse clicks later, and voila! I discovered that “adaptive technology” retailers carry lots of industrial-strength alarm clocks.

At maxiaids.com, I came across one possibility. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a deer in the headlights, there’s the $73.75 Alarm Clock and Vibes Bedshaker, which flashes a bright light and shakes your bed. Then there’s the $29.50 Sonic Boom, available on Amazon or from sonicalert.com. In addition to shaking your bed and flashing lights, it generates a 113-decibel shriek.

Not loud enough? The Screaming Meanie ($30.99 from Amazon.com) clocks in at an ear-popping 120 decibels. (For inquiring minds, that’s louder than a jet airplane.)

[Bedtime Rituals to Calm Racing Minds]

During my research, I met a woman who swore by progression wake-up clocks, which are made by a few brands — this Philips Wake-up Light is a good place to start. Over a 30-minute period, it gradually wakens you with light, nature sounds, and aromatherapy. Something soothing to start the day, kind of makes you go ahhhhhhh.

My friend Cali, who can never sleep and has a flair for feng-shui, suggested the Zen Alarm Clock (starting at $139.95 from now-zen.com). Since I’m always looking for ways to calm the ADHD mind, this sounded appealing. It turns out that Now & Zen’s headquarters is just a few miles from my house. I went over to sneak a peek, returning with a zen timepiece. The literature claims that this clock can “awaken the soul,” and, as I discovered the next morning, that’s not far from the truth. First once, then with increasing frequency, it sounded the gentle, soothing chimes that one associates with mountain monasteries. After 10 minutes, it coaxed me out of bed. I felt calm and refreshed.

Only one hitch: The effect was so relaxing that I just had to try it again. So I reset the alarm and crawled back into bed.

[Problems Getting Up in the Morning?]

NOTE: Product names, models, prices, and specifications were updated in February 2018. Please leave a comment below if you are aware of more accurate and up-to-date information.

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