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Alarm Clock vs. Phone Alarm: Which Is Best?

The pros and cons between alarm clocks and phone alarms.

Alarm Clock vs. Phone Alarm: Which Is Best?

Ah, the morning — warm sun peeking through the blinds, birds chirping, and of course, a buzzing alarm clock. Okay, maybe that last one isn't the most pleasant part of waking up each morning. But unless you want to start your day off on the wrong foot, waking up to the gentle buzzes of an alarm are simply necessary.

When it comes to using an alarm clock, people typically fall into two different categories: the smartphone users and the traditional bedside alarm clock enthusiasts. But with smartphones becoming comparable to an additional appendage (admit it, you'd be lost without that thing), more and more of us are relying on smartphones to wake up each morning. However, there are some folks who like the tradition of waking up next to their trustworthy bedside clock, as dated as it may seem.

But other than providing you with unwelcome wakeup calls every day, why would someone choose one alarm over the other? Believe it or not, there are a few differences between a smartphone alarm and a traditional alarm clock that could make a difference in your everyday health.

Phone Alarm

It's hard to remember a time when you didn't immediately check your emails or Instagram upon waking up — it's practically become second nature. But this seemingly harmless habit can actually be bad for your physical and mental health.

First off, if you sleep with your phone next to you in order to hear its alarm in the morning, chances are you're peering into its bright screen just before drifting off to sleep. Smartphones, along with laptop and iPod screens, emit "blue light," which, to your brain, looks the same as daylight. When you wake up in the morning and see that it's light out, your brain stops the production of melatonin so that you're able to wake up and get on with the day. That means if you're faced with blue light before you go to bed, you'll have a harder time drifting off into dreamland since your melatonin won't be released correctly.

In addition to compromising your physical health by affecting your quality of sleep, sleeping next to your phone can also have a negative influence on your mental health. When you wake up in the morning, immediately scrolling through your emails can easily send you into a panic, jolting you into a stressful state before you've even lifted your head up off the pillow.

Additionally, scrolling through social media first thing in the morning can make you feel bad about your day and even your life. Looking at pictures of people "living their best lives" on vacations and at lavish restaurants can leave you feeling depressed that you don't have the same things they do. Needless to say, that's not the best motivator to seize the day ahead.

While there seem to be plenty of negatives to waking up to a phone alarm clock every day, there are some upsides. For one, sleeping next to your phone can provide a great deal of security, knowing family or friends can reach you with the touch of a button in case of an emergency. And conversely, if you find yourself needing to call for help in the night, all you'll have to do is reach over to the nightstand. Lastly, you can totally personalize your wake-up experience by picking out the exact sound (songs, ring tones, etc.) you'd like to hear first thing in the morning.

Traditional Alarm Clock

Traditional bedside alarm clocks can come in many forms, from round clocks to bulky boxes. But a lot of the time, thinking of an old-school alarm clock triggers childhood memories of waking up for school courtesy of a loud, obnoxious buzzing coming from a little rectangle with big red numbers on its face.

To begin with, regular alarm clocks don't require much of you to check the time. Simply look up at them in bed and you'll get what you need from them — unlike a phone that tempts you into "checking a few things" before going back to sleep. Alarm clocks won't keep you up at night and most certainly won't harm your sleep in any way.

Alarm clocks are also incredibly reliable. It's typically plugged into the wall and stays in the same place, so there's no chance of it losing battery as you sleep and making you late for that morning meeting. But in addition to its reliability, traditional alarm clocks are just that — traditional. There's something comforting about having one sit on your nightstand, knowing it will always be there in your bedroom, arguably the most peaceful, safe room in your home.

Still feel torn between traditional alarm clocks and smartphone alarms? The choice all depends on how you like to go to sleep and wake up in the morning. Try one or the other for a couple of weeks at a time and see if you feel a difference. And when in doubt, you can always use both — given that you have a big enough nightstand.

Resources—The Atlantic