Alarm clocks are such an integrated part of our society that we hardly ever think about them, but it is an huge marked, and there are lots of interesting things going on. Let's have a look.
In its essence, an alarm clock is a very simple device: at a specified time it should make a noise so that a person will wake up. A simple task can be performed in many ways, and the number of different techniques for waking a person is retained only by a lack of creativity. In this short article I want to discuss some aspects of alarm clocks that I've always found interesting. The video below presents a alarm clock with a drastic method, and guaranteed results.
Do we need alarm clocks?
I think most people, including myself, agree that alarm clocks are important. Without an alarm clock I probably would have missed most of my 8am lectures. Many researches state that around 8 hours of sleep is the ideal amount for an adult human. This is also a general opinion of most people I know. A Canadian report shows that left to their own, most people sleep between 10 and 12 hoursYou snooze, you lose? Sleep patterns in Canada. These people are able to perform better on a number of psychological tasks requiring participants to focus on details for an extended period of time. Still, 8.1 hours of sleep is the average, as the table below shows.
So even though our bodies would like to sleep for 10 to 12 hours, we just do not have the time, and we need alarm clocks to wake us. But if you are one of the 19% of parents who sleep less than 6.5 hours for several days in a row, you probably will not be happy when the alarm goes off. What do you do? You hit the snooze button.
The snooze button
Most modern alarm clocks have a snooze button. A snooze button stops the alarm, but will make it go of again in a certain time, typically nine minutes. It is a very handy feature, since it allows us to continue sleeping, but for no more than nine minutes. I must admit that snoozing the morning away is a very easy thing to do, especially if weather is poor, and you have a boring lecture. What if you get so used to hitting the snooze button, that you don't even think about it? This is a problem for many, and there are many creative solutions. The video below shows the best one, at least in my opinion.
Meet Clocky. This is not an ordinary alarm clock. If you snooze it two times it will actually drive off, and you will have to get up and find it, to make it shut up. There are many creative alarm clocks out there, and please take the time to visit the Top Ten Most Annoying Alarm Clocks for some funny examples.
Usually the reason why I write an article is that I have a question, and while researching the subject I realize that it was more interesting than I assumed. The reason I started reading about alarm clocks was the question: Why is the snooze time always nine minutes? Before you start complaining: Yes, sometimes the time is not nine minutes also, but the nine minute snooze time is a norm, and is used by many, including mobile phone manufacturers. I figured there had to be a logical reason for this, but the answer is not clear.
One source proposes many reasons; for example the snooze time on analog clocks should be under 10 minutes, but the precision was not good. When digital clocks were made the engineers rounded the snooze time down to nine minutesThe Straight Dope: Snooze time. Another source claims that reason lies in the circuits: By setting the snooze time to 9 minutes, modern digital alarm clocks only needs to watch the last digit of the time. So, if you hit snooze at 6:45, the alarm goes off again when the last digit hits 4 - at 7:54. They couldn't make the snooze period 10 minutes, or the alarm would go off right away - or the clock would take more circuitry. But the nine minute snooze was practiced before circuitry entered the picture.
Historically speaking, there's another element to the answer. Clock experts say when snooze alarms were invented, the gears in alarm clocks were standardized. The snooze gear was introduced into the existing mix and its teeth had to mesh with the other gears' teeth. The engineers had to choose between a gear that made the snooze period nine-plus minutes or 10-plus minutes. Because of the gear configuration, 10 minutes on the nose was not an optionGlad U Asked: Snooze time.
My idea for an alarm clock
For the last 6 months, my schedule has been my own to make. Working on my master's thesis has been challenging, but it has not required very early mornings. Some days the aspect of what the time is, doesn't really matter. During this time I've realized that I don't set my alarm clock according to when I need to get up, but rather so I get a reasonably amount of sleep. In my opinion this makes sense, and I would like an alarm clock where you didn't set it to ring at 7am, but in 8 hours. In fact I liked this idea so much that I used my cooking timer, which for some reason can be set to 12 hours countdown, as an alarm clock for some days. I didn't know when I went to bed, neither when I would be awaken, but I knew I got enough sleep.
This might sound silly, but take a look at Table 1 above again. The last column shows how many, in percent, who cut down on their sleep. A student writing a master's thesis will never have enough time, and will always think about this when setting the alarm. One should not think: "I have to be up by 7am", but rather: "I have to sleep 7 hours". Errors made by people with not enough sleep can be catastrophic. Most major accidents happen after midnight (Chernobyl and Three Mile Island nuclear disasters), and sleep debt has been blamed for some of the world’s most horrific accidents (Exxon Valdez) .
Conclusion: Get enough sleep! Use an alarm clock, but don't use it to cut back on your much needed rest.
Allowed HTML: <a href=""></a>, <u>, <em>, <strong>, <blockquote>.
Also, you may only respond once every five minutes.