March 7 - 13 is Sleep Awareness Week, according to the National Sleep Foundation. The purpose of which is to remind you of the importance of sleep in your life. It all culminates in the switch to Daylight Savings Time on Sunday, where most Americans will lose an hour in the night (and maybe an hour's worth of sleep). Today's offering: our favorite alarm clock apps.
This free app offers a multitude of settings and options, perfect for acting as your bedside alarm and clock. You can choose to wake up to pre-loaded alarm sounds ranging from old-school buzzing to less jarring chime motifs or pick tracks from the music collection on your iOS device. With the Sleep Timer you can also fall asleep to music that gradually fades away as the clock winds down. To help you ease into a waking state, alarms will fade in over the course of 6 seconds to 30 minutes depending on the interval you set. Users can customize the look of the clock itself from the settings menu, or fiddle with the brightness of the background or text right from the main screen. We're also fans of the Flashlight feature, which you can turn on by shaking for those mornings when you have to wake up before the sun.
The key to good sleep, according to some experts, is to wake up according to your body's natural sleep cycles. This isn't always easy to determine, and sometimes can't be dictated. However, this app is pretty good at judging when you go in and out of deep sleep. This helps it to wake you when you're lightly sleeping, which should help you feel more refreshed. You'll still get up on time -- when you set the alarm you give the app a range around when you need to be awake. Owners can wake to iPod music as well as recordings from the dictaphone (your loved one's voice, maybe). And for those who are addicted to the snooze button, now all you have to do is shake the phone.
Alarm Clock PlusV2 (Free)
A free app with a seriously robust feature set, Alarm Clock Plus is our favorite for Android. Users get an unlimited number of alarms plus a nap function for those of us who love a siesta. Wake up to pre-loaded sounds or music from your phone. There's even an option to start the alarm soft and have it increase over 5 seconds on up to 20 minutes, so you ease out of sleep naturally. Choose on an alarm-by-alarm basis whether to allow the snooze function, number and length of snoozes, and auto-dismissal of the alarm after a certain period. For the chronically sleepy, you can set each alarm so that it requires a math problem to solve before it will shut off. That will definitely wake you up. The clock screen is also customizable and even widgetable, so you won't miss the most important information even if you're just waking up.
Gentle Alarm ($2.78)
Claiming that movement-based alarm apps don't really work, the developer of Gentle Alarm instead came up with a different way to tease you out of sleep when you're at the peak of your cycle. An optional pre-alarm goes off 30 minutes before you really want to be awake. In deep sleep you shouldn't hear it. But if you're in light sleep, it will ease you into waking up. The app also includes a silent alarm feature that slowly increases vibration until you wake up. For snoozers, the Flip to Snooze function makes it easy (maybe too easy) to catch another 5 minutes.