There must be better ways to be awakened than by construction workers at the crack of dawn, your kids bouncing up and down on your chest -- or a very, very loud buzz.
From traditional electronics devices to Apple Inc's iPhone, many products are looking for that better way -- and increasingly cellphones are taking on that task, including phones that listen to you snore.
Consumer electronics manufacturers have tried to corner a segment of this attractive market, because as any member of the weekly rat race can attest, a good night's rest, and waking up well tempered, is serious business.
Broadly, these smart products can be divided into two categories: those that simply awaken you from slumber, and those that help you arise in a pleasant way -- and potentially protect your loved ones from a foul morning mood.
Philips Electronics, Europe's biggest gadget maker, has the Wake-Up Light, which gradually fills your bedroom with light. It makes getting up more natural, the way you do on a bright summer morning, according to a commercial for the product. (http://tinyurl.com/6yfzua)
For snooze hitters, there is Bim Bam Banana's $99 Puzzle Alarm Clock, which forces you to put little puzzle pieces on the clock before the snooze mode is actually activated. Of course, by the time you have solved the puzzle, your brain is awake and so is the rest of you.
Hard-core snoozers can turn to Nando Home's Clocky, a $50 clock on wheels, which runs off from your bedside table the moment it starts yelling -- and won't stop until you have caught it. And the Shape Up Alarm Clock -- designed in the form of a lift-weight -- only stops after you have done a few repetitions.
CLOCKS GO DIGITAL
As popularity grows for smartphones -- handsets as powerful as computers -- so do sleep-dashing products available in phone application stores.
For example, the Puzzle Alarm Clock has its virtual sister, from iAwake. Also, the Relax Alarm allows you to use your favorite wake-up sounds on your phone, ranging from beach waves to thunder and grandfather clocks.
A more serious application is HappyWakeUp (www.happywakeup.com). It works as a smart alarm clock and is based on medical research into human sleep and its structure.
The application, which was developed for Nokia handsets but is now also available for the iPhone, monitors your sleep using the microphone of the mobile phone.
Your phone wakes you, but only if you are awake or almost awake just before the set alarm time. The technology was developed by Smart Valley Software, a spin-off from the Helsinki University and University Hospital and Tampere Technical University, based on the natural waking patterns at the end of a night's sleep.
There are optimal moments for your brain and body to wake you up and the microphone of your smartphone actually detects these phases. A soft tone is enough to wake up.
The 24.95 euro application was last year's runner-up in the Nokia EMEA Application of the year competition.
The only thing to do is feed the 20 minute time frame in which you wish to wake into your phone and put the handset next to your pillow.
Just make sure you set the alarm before the construction workers at your neighbors' place arrive and before the kids wake up.
(Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Gerald E. McCormick)