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The Best Alarm Clock: Smartphone or Alarm Clock?

Cell phones and smartphones have revolutionized personal technology. They've taken actions that once required multiple devices and stuck them all together into something that can fit into your back pocket. Just load up a few apps and you're good to go. So it is with the old-fashioned but often still-relevant alarm clock.

It seems more and more people use their smartphones for their morning wakeup call. And why not? If you already have a smartphone, then eliminating the need for one more device saves space and money. But don't count alarm clocks out of the game quite yet. Waking up in the morning is an important part of your day, because that's when your day starts. You want to do it right. A smartphone loaded with the best apps might indeed be the best fit for you. Or maybe you're better off with an actual alarm clock.

How do you decide? Well, look at yourself. What kind of sleeper are you? Are you easy to wake up, or do you sleep so deep you've been mistaken for dead? There are many variables to consider, and there's no one right or wrong answer. Only the best personal option for you.

Why use a smartphone?
There are many benefits to using a smartphone instead of an alarm clock. Besides device consolidation, which can save space on your nightstand as well as money, it's also a simple matter to take your "alarm clock" with you whenever you go traveling. That way, you don't have to rely on some sort of weird hotel alarm clock or a friend's promise to wake you up in time to get ready for work when you crash at his or her house one night.

Besides, all smartphones nowadays come with a built-in alarm function, so why not use it? If they don't, you can choose one out of thousands from the app store and be on your way to dreamland in a matter of minutes. Many smart alarm clock apps also have nifty additional features. Some can be programmed to wake you up several minutes before your usual alarm time in case of snow or bad road conditions. Others force you to solve math problems every time you hit the snooze button. There are dozens of possibilities, each just as customizable as the next.

Why use an alarm clock?
With all those great smartphone options, why then would you consider using an alarm clock to wake you up? This is the point where it really depends on you. If, for example, you're a deep sleeper who consistently sleeps through your alarms, then you might need something a little more heavy-duty, like a vibrating alarm clock that shakes your entire bed. I'm pretty sure a smartphone can't do that (yet). Perhaps you're the type of person who wakes up before the sun rises and would like something nicer than to have an increasingly irritating sound jar you out of sleep. In that case, an alarm clock that simulates sunrise and wakes you up naturally might be your best bet.

Or maybe you simply want to turn your smartphone off at night. Yes, many settings and apps can block texts and calls while you sleep, but there's still that tempting distraction of checking your screen. When you wake up, your first instinct is likely to check on the weather, your Facebook wall, your Twitter feed, email – the list goes on and on. Looking at the bright screen at night to check the time can also be blinding and interrupt sleep. You could use a projection alarm clock instead. Those types of alarm clocks project the time up on the ceiling or wall in a pleasant, soft light that won't hurt your eyes.

At the very least, a dedicated alarm clock can serve you as a backup. If your smartphone is stolen or dropped in a toilet, rendering its alarm option unavailable for at least one morning, then you'd better have something else that can reliably get you out of bed on time.

Why not both?
Many people who have alarm clocks have smartphones, too. Many companies are catching on and developing products that complement both. Newer alarm clocks have charging ports for iPhone or Bluetooth syncing capabilities to pair with your smartphone. By using a combo unit, you get many benefits of an alarm clock, like having a backup in case your phone dies and a sound system loud enough to wake your grandma. At the same time, you get to take advantage of the features of your smartphone, like your extensive music library.

The best alarm clock for you is the one that will consistently get you out of bed in the morning feeling good. An alarm clock separate from your smartphone might seemed old-fashioned and unnecessary, but only you—and your sleeping habits—can decide which is best for you.