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Why An Old-School Alarm Clock – Not A Smartphone – Is The Secret To A Better Night’s Sleep

Photographed by Vicky King, Vogue, March 2017

Photographed by Vicky King

Unsettling push notifications from CNN. An influx of pressing work emails. More than 97 unread texts from your friend group chat. None of these things should be the last thing you see at night, nor the first thing you lay your eyes on in the morning. And despite this very obvious truth and the fact that excessive screen time has been linked to exacerbating just about every mental and physical health condition that besets us, smartphone addiction is a stark reality for many — if not most. It’s crucial to acknowledge that sleeping in the same room as our smartphone, as well as using it as an alarm to wake up, is an acute part of the problem.

For starters, screen time has a direct impact on our production of melatonin, otherwise known as the hormone of darkness, which is produced in the brain’s pineal glands and requires — you guessed it — darkness to work its magic and induce sleepiness. “Melatonin doesn’t like light, especially the blue light emitted by electronics,” explains Shelby Harris, Psy.D., a behavioral sleep-medicine specialist, adding that nighttime exposure can disrupt your circadian rhythm (the body’s internal clock), which not only compromises the quantity and quality of sleep, but can also disrupt everything from the body’s digestive system to fluctuating hormonal levels.

Furthermore, no matter how you slice it, if your smartphone is plugged in next to your bed, you’re still in work or social media mode. “If you’re getting texts or email alerts, it obviously disrupts your sleep quality,” says Harris. “But even if you don’t have alerts, there’s always going to be the temptation to check your smartphone. Then, your bedroom is associated with awake activities such as work, socializing, and stress, more so than restful sleep.”

The bottom line is that if you’re keeping your phone in your bedroom, your brain isn’t fully shutting down and it’s impeding an optimal night’s rest. The solution? If you can’t rely on your circadian rhythm to wake you up naturally, revert back to a traditional alarm clock. “Go old-school!” insists Harris. “It’ll keep the temptation of your smartphone out of the room and if you put it away from your bed, you have to physically get up and turn it off, which makes the snooze alarm tougher to use.”

That said, even if you’re buying more time on a de facto alarm clock instead of an iPhone next to your pillow, it’s not a fruitful habit. “If you find that you’re constantly pushing snooze, you’re probably going to bed too late and need more sleep overall,” she says. The other factor to take into consideration if you’re having trouble getting up in the mornings, particularly during the cooler months, is light. “If you struggle with waking up early in the fall and winter because of the darkness, a dawn-simulating alarm clock can be helpful,” explains Harris.

From the latest sun-mimicking innovation to a timeless Danish model, here are three alarm clocks that will ensure a better night’s rest and upgrade your space, too.

Philips Somneo light

Philips Somneo Light

Night owls that need need some aid winding down and an extra pick-me-up on pitch-black mornings, this one’s for you. An alarm clock in ethereal orb form, it gradually emits warm-toned light to imitate sunsets with a calming breathing mediation feature, as well as sunrises that trick your body into a more balanced circadian rhythm. It may be artificial, but it still effectively boosts mood and energy, according to clinical trials. Not to mention, offers five different evocative alarm sounds—birds chirping! cow bells clinking!—for a very personal, very zen wakeup experience.

Arne Jacobsen Station Table Alarm Clock

Arne Jacobsen Station Table Alarm Clock

Whether you’re an old soul, or simply appreciate practical yet beautiful design, this timepiece, first created by famed Danish designer Arne Jacobsen in 1939, is a tried-and-true classic. It’s vintage, yes, but even technologically speaking, leaves little to be desired thanks to its updated snooze and light-sensor features.

Alume Cube Clock

Alume Cube Clock

Tailor-made for spaces that err on the side of industrial and minimalist, this neutral gray cube has a futuristic LED display featuring the time, date, and temperature that will appear — or disappear — as you desire with a tap or snap of your fingers.

Read Next: How to Regulate Your Sleep Cycle Post Lockdown

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