If you are like me, you also have a problem waking up in the morning. By nature I am not an early riser and, most of the time, I have trouble leaving the comfort of my bed in the morning. Or even worse – I tend not hear the alarm go off at all.
I’ve been researching the topic of how I might facilitate the process of waking up and I’ve stumbled upon some apps which promise interesting things. Gentle Wakeup Alarm Clock – which theorizes that sleepers can wake up naturally by light. According to the creators of the app – light leads to biological process in the body leaving the deep sleep phase and preparing to wake up. So in theory the app should help me to wake up gently and refreshed every day. So naturally I had to give it a try.
This idea is actually based on a scientific theory which states that a very beneficial way to wake up refreshed is to rise during a period of your lightest sleep. Being woken in a light stage has proven to make people more energetic and alert upon awakening.
You can download the app for free from the Google Play Store. However, a Premium version is also available. You can upgrade to Premium from within the app for $5 a pop (which unlocks more Sound options). Once the app is installed all you need to get started is to access it. When you open the app for the first time, you’ll be asked whether you’d like to watch a video tutorial. If you think you can find your way around the app without watching it, then go ahead and skip it.
When you open the app – all you will be able to see is the date and time, as all the other features are hidden on purpose. With a single tap on the display you can make additional options visible.
The whole purpose of the app is to let you configure your alarm clock in a way that suits you. So go on to Settings which is located in the lower right corner and tap it. From there you can click the Add button to add the time you want to be woken up. From the same panel, you can customize what you see on the main screen.
You can ask the app to display the date, day of the week, time, seconds, 24 hours mode, time for next wake up and more. You also have Brightness Settings at your disposal. You can choose the transparency of text, app brightness for light on and app brightness for light off. You should start playing with these features and see which one suits you best. What’s more the app can deliver Weather information as well (once you set your location)
Tapping on the Alarm you just set up, will reveal a bunch of options that help you customize your wake up process. The app is built on the idea that light can wake you up. That’s why the alarm will start weaving its magic with 20 minutes earlier than the intended wake-up hour, in order to prepare your body for wakeup.
However, the app offers other wakeup methods too like Sound and Vibration. And yes, you can combine all of them into a more powerful alarm system. Wake up by Sound allows you to choose the type of sound you want to hear (frogs, rooster, and train – whatever floats your boat). You can also choose the time after which the sound should reach its final intensity.
Add vibration to this equation and your phone will light up, buzz and produce animal sounds – all at the same time. Which should guarantee you’ll be jumping out of bed.
After setting/saving the alarm, you can go back to the main screen. You’ll see your next alarm which is set to start 20 minutes before the actual desired waking time.
I like the fact that there are a lot of options available and you can experiment with different combinations to see which suits your particular wake-sleep cycle. On the down side, the interface is quite boring and outdated. I would have liked to see a more modern interface.
When it comes to results – don’t expect something spectacular. As I told you before, I’m a pretty deep sleeper that usually has to be up by 7.30 AM. Well given that we’re in spring now and the sun rises by 6.30 AM, the alarm’s light signal becomes almost useless. Only when the frogs started making noises (sound alarm) and the vibrations started was I bothered to open my eyes.
Also, if you want to rely only on the lighting scheme to wake, you will need to place your device in your immediate vicinity – which is not something I tend to be down for. I like to leave my phone on a night stand beside my bed which is not super close to my bed. Another inconvenience is that you absolutely need to leave your device charged in overnight – as the alarm starts 20 minutes earlier, you risk waking up to a drained phone.
But once the alarm gets going, it’s pretty difficult to make it stop. In theory all you need to do is move the slider showing on the screen to the right. But that proves to be more complicated than it needs to be. I had to slide my finger numerous times before the noise finally stopped and instead of waking up refreshed, I woke up really annoyed. The snooze option (tapping on the screen) also proved glitchy at times.
On top of that, I noticed there’s no way you can set an alarm for the current day – an option that might come in handy for those who like taking naps.
Gentle Wakeup Alarm Clock is built around a great idea – deliver an app that can help you wake up gently. However, the implementation leaves a little to be desired. It would be nice if the team would upgrade the interface and give it a 2017 look and squish the bugs that need to be neutralized. Also unlocking the “premium” features is a bit more expensive than it needs to be. However, if you’d like to try out the whole wake up by light scheme, you can try the app for free. Still, I’d recommend to test the app out in winter when the sun rises later during the day (unless you live in a Norse country).
For me, Gentle Wakeup proved to be more of a glorified Alarm Clock, but maybe it will work differently for you – given that everyone’s sleep/wake cycle is different.
We reached out to the author about some of the issues that we experienced and he had some encouraging responses. Material design is coming in the next update, which is proposed for some time in April. He also intends to fix the slider to make it more functional.
He also states that the light may not need to be directly in your line of sight but just near you so that your subconscious mind can recognize the change in light levels.
We look forward to seeing what improvements are in store for Gentle Wakeup.