Few things unite my colleagues here at The Penny Hoarder more than our collective love of sleep.
The waking up process, though, is where we diverge.
Writer Grace Schweizer gradually introduces sunlight into her bedroom while surfing the internet for a while.
Editor Sushil Cheema hits the snooze button for as long as she can get away with it.
Writer Carson Kohler sets three separate alarms each night and admits sometimes even that’s not enough to get her out of bed as quickly as she’d like.
I’m a little fusspot who prefers to be woken up gently and can’t hang with blaring alarms or snooze buttons.
Alarm Clock Apps: A Love-Hate Relationship
One thing we all have in common is that we use alarm apps on our smartphones to let us know when to get up, even if we don’t want to.
While none of us loves alarms, we understand they’re a necessary evil that gets us to work on time and helps us keep our jobs.
Given how many different preferences there are, it’s no surprise there are literally hundreds of smartphone wake-up apps that accommodate just about every need or wish.
Here are nine of our favorite alarm apps, categorized according to the kind of alarm it takes to get your butt out of bed so you’re not late for work.
Loud and Obnoxious
For people who have trouble getting up in the morning, sometimes a loud, irritating, obnoxious alarm is exactly what you need to annoy you into getting out of bed.
1. The Rock Clock
The Rock Clock gets my vote as one of the funniest on the market right now. Actor Dwayne Johnson, known to fans as The Rock, bundled 15 different custom alarms into one hilarious app.
Let The Rock strum you awake with a song or just repeat “BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP” over and over until you shut the darn thing off.
His dog, Hobbs, will bark you out of bed, or you can opt for the sound of hand grenades exploding.
If you’re really hardcore, set your alarm for Rock Time. It syncs with The Rock’s clock so your alarm goes off when his does — which might sometimes be 2:59 a.m.
2. Loud Alarm Clock
This iPhone-only app lives up to its name.
With labels like “Big Horn,” “Car Alarm,” “Danger” and “Emergency,” the creators of Loud Alarm Clock say it’s “impossible” to sleep through these volume-boosted alarms.
Like the rest of the apps on this list, this one is free but additional alarm sounds are available through in-app purchase.
If the free sounds don’t work, give “EKG Freakout,” “Machine Gun,” “Nails on a Chalkboard” or “World War 3” a try.
Just don’t blame me if everyone in your house starts pelting you with shoes every morning.
3. Super Loud Alarm Clock
Not to be confused with the previous app, Super Loud Alarm Clock is for Android users who want to blast away their ear drums.
This app’s features are bare-bones and limited to just an alarm and a batch of unpleasant sounds.
They include an air horn, fire alarm, loud street and something that apparently only makes sense to the developer — a space elephant.
If you decide you really like the alarms and want to hear them multiple times a day, they can also be programmed as your ringtone and notification sound.
Fiendish and a Little Evil
Some people like to power up their brains in the morning with a little physical or mental activity. Here are the drill sergeants of alarm app world.
4. Mathe Alarm Clock
Mathe Alarm Clock is so diabolical that it just might work when other apps don’t.
The only way to shut off this alarm is to solve the multiple-choice math problem displayed on the screen.
In case you’re not a mathematician, you can choose the level of difficulty — easy, medium, or hard — for each question.
Sorry, Android owners — this app is just for iPhone, but there are lots of similar options in Google Play.
If you’re coordinated enough to use your phone’s camera without blinding yourself with the flash, then check out Alarmy.
During the setup process, the app asks you to take a picture of a room or object in your house. When the alarm goes off, you’ll need to take that same photo again to shut it off.
If you choose this app, make sure to take pictures of stationary objects so prank-loving housemates can’t hide what you snapped and send you on an impromptu scavenger hunt the next morning (something I would totally do).
In case taking photos seems like too much hassle, you can also make the app ask you math problems or set it to Shake Mode so you literally have to shake your phone for 30 seconds to make the alarm shut off.
6. Morning Routine
Morning Routine is the app on this list I’d most want to watch other people use just for the sheer hilarity of it.
One of this app’s options for shutting off alarms forces the user to scan barcodes of products they scanned during the setup process.
The idea of someone staggering around in the dark trying to scan the barcode on a can of shaving cream while muttering at their phone sends me into a fit of giggles.
There’s also a built-in feature that gives users an extra shove to keep them from going back to bed. Simply set the alarm to go off after a predetermined snooze period and the app will require you to complete another task to silence the new alarm.
Morning Routine is only available on Google Play, but here’s a similar app from the App Store.
Sweet and Gentle
Some of us (me), and I’m not naming names (me), comport themselves like a candy-deprived toddler if we’re jarred awake from our slumber. These apps break wake-up time to you gently.
7. Sleep Cycle
Sleep Cycle is one of my favorites because it’s really good at sensing just when to wake me up.
Unlike other alarm apps that wake you up at an exact time, Sleep Cycle begins to wake you during a 30-minute window before your alarm is set to go off.
“Sleep Cycle alarm clock tracks your sleep patterns and wakes you up during light sleep,” say the app’s developers. “Waking up during light sleep feels like waking up naturally rested without an alarm clock.”
I don’t know how much more rested I am compared to when I use other alarm apps, but I do know that I prefer to be gently nudged awake at just the right time by my choice of vibration, sound or both — rather than being jarred awake with an alarm assaulting my ears.
Wakie is a little bizarre, but it’s perfect for anyone who likes to be woken up by someone talking to them (I hear people like this do exist).
The Wakie app is a free and anonymous service that connects you with people all over the world who are willing to talk with you the minute you awaken.
Simply set your alarm and your phone will ring at the appointed time.
Answer it to chat with a total stranger for up to 20 minutes while you wake up and sip your coffee. (There’s a built-in block feature in case things go off the rails.)
Crowdsourcing at its finest.
9. Wave Alarm
Some people can’t get it together enough when their alarm goes off to even press the off button.
The alarms on Wave Alarm for Android and iOS are so effortless to snooze or turn off that literally all you need to do is wave your hand in the vicinity of your phone to make it happen.
This app has a few cool features, like real-time weather integration and a pretty interface, but the motion control is what makes this alarm clock shine.
It’s perfect for anyone who can’t muster the energy in the morning to do more than vaguely gesture in the general area of their nightstand to shut off a wake-up alarm.
Your Turn: What kind of alarm do you prefer coaxing you out of bed?
Lisa McGreevy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s holding out for an alarm clock app that sounds like llamas softly bleating in the distance. Can someone make that happen, please?
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