Description: Waking to the “alarming” sound of a LOUD, fiercely Buzzing/Beeping/Blasting clock hardly sets a peaceful mood to one’s day. Alternative alarm clocks accommodate a sleeper’s natural waking cycles, thereby contributing to his or her general feeling of wellbeing after a good night’s sleep.

“Zen” style alarm clocks are available in different styles and price ranges. This type of alarm clock facilitates a progressive, gentle awakening. When the alarm is triggered, an acoustic chime bar is struck and the sound gently reverberates. Approximately 3-1/2 minutes later the chime sounds again; and again 2 minutes later; and again 1 minute later; and again half a minute later; gradually increasing in frequency until the clock chimes every 5 seconds.

“Sunrise,” light-activated alarm clocks use light rather then sound; the light gradually increases in intensity, simulating a sunrise. This process facilitates one’s natural response to sunrise (and reverses for sunset), and therefore helps to synchronize the circadian rhythm of sleep and wakefulness patterns. Clinical studies at the National Institute of Health indicate that waking to light benefits people with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), sleep disorders, and various forms of depression.

What to look for: It is important to look for battery operated alarm clocks. Electromagnetic fields are invisible to the naked eye, but their presence in homes can be harmful to our health. Also referred to as EMFs (Electric and Magnetic Fields), these waves can come from cell phones, microwaves, and electrical outlets. While most EMF waves are minimal in radiation, stress caused by these fields can contribute to sleeping disorders like insomnia, depression, allergies, and headaches, as well as more serious illnesses such as cancer. In fact, some people with sleep difficulties find that part of the problem stems from sleeping with their heads too close to electric alarm clocks or other electric appliances!

Uses: “Zen” and “Sunrise” alarm clocks allow for a progressive awakening. Waking up in one’s own rhythm facilitates better dream recall, further lengthens alpha brain wave activity (a powerful time to make affirmations), and contributes to the rejuvenation of good sleep.

Where to find: Online retail stores and catalogs; specialty “healthy and natural living” stores.

Avoid: Electric alarm clocks. Also avoid loud, obnoxious buzzers that startle a person out of sleep.