When I was in the Navy I had problems waking up at 0400 to study before class like I needed. So, I went out to the NEX (Naval Exchange) and picked up the loudest, most obnoxious piece of machinery I could get my hands on.
The Westclox Model #22651 is a powerhouse in a tiny box. I’m fairly certain the alarm can banish demons. It certainly did the trick of waking me up in the morning.
I kept that alarm clock by my side for the next nine years. Very slowly over that time I have found myself becoming a little less startled in the morning and more willing to risk the snooze button. Still, it has remained an incredibly effective device, that is, until I dropped it eight feet onto my hardwood floors.
The alarm still sounded, but the clock itself was only visible from one small angle when you tilt the clock back 80 degrees. It made a nice audible crunchy sound when you click the buttons, too. It was pretty obvious. I needed a new clock.
So after all these years I found myself searching around for a new alarm clock online. I figured, if my last one lasted almost a decade, I should spend the time and pick one that is worth having around for a while. I researched different alarm types, clock radios, water proof ones, traditional bells, clocks that work with your computer, and a few crazy ones that wake you up with bright lights instead of sound. Then I found Zeo.
The Zeo is a different class of alarm clock altogether. With a sporty fabric headband, this device monitors you brain activity while you sleep and gives you detailed readouts about your night of rest. It distinguishes between REM, light, and deep sleep, and even tells you how many times you woke up in the night, and for how long. It gives you extra information too, like how long it took you to fall asleep, the total time you spent sawing logs, and tracks trends over time. Most importantly is has an amazing feature called Smart-Wake that wakes you up at the optimal time in your sleep cycle so that you feel the most rested in the morning. You give the clock a range of times in the morning and if it detects you entering a lighter sleep phase, the alarm will go off quietly and slowly increase volume to ease you awake. It’s amazing.
In the morning, you can pop the SD card out of the clock and sync it up to their website and track all of your sleep data online. They’ve got a sleep coach e-mail program that I haven’t tried yet and a really cool interactive sleep journal so you can make notes of environmental distractions (I’m looking at you, Sniffles), reasons for waking up during the night, or other sleep information.
The website and device are wonderfully designed and relatively simple to use. Their sleep tracker website uses an Adobe Flex site with wonderful, pretty charting tools. And the alarm sounds are soothing, but unique enough to wake you up rather than put you to sleep.
The downside is the price. It’s a \$399 alarm clock, when you get right down to it, but if you’re like me and you love unique tech gadgets, or you’re like me and have a horrible sleep schedule and can use a little more information, it might be worth the investment. If I can make this clock last for the next ten years, I won’t be complaining. In the meantime, I’ve only used it the one night so far, so there isn’t much data to review yet. I’ll tell you one thing, though. The chart above is my actual sleep results from last night. That little bit of “wake” time on the right was when my cat jumped on my head. This Zeo thing definitely does its job. Oh, and click the image for a screenshot of the full web application.