Waking up

I've made an incredible, or perhaps incredibly obvious, discovery that has revolutionised, or at least slightly improved, my waking up experience. Now, obviously the most pleasant way to wake up is to just let it happen naturally, with some combination of natural sunlight (if you're lucky enough to live somewhere where the run rises at a reasonable time) and your own body clock. Though sometimes you need to wake up at a specific time. Thus why they invented alarms. But waking up to an alarm is notoriously unpleasant.

the sound

Historically, alarm sounds have generally been pretty horrible: the ringing of analog clocks or buzzing sounds of digital ones are not things that most people would want to hear at any time, much less first thing in the morning. In modern times we have phones, which come with their own libraries of alarm sounds. These sounds should be significantly better. I'm not convinced they are. On my phone, they include a variety of little jingles played on various instruments and "birdsong". Years of television advertising have conditioned me to be averse to jingles, but the birdsong is... okay. My problem is that every sound functions in pretty much the same way. I'm woken up by the sound pretty much immediately, but I'm never awake enough to know what's going on until it repeats a few times. It's a very disorienting and unpleasant way to wake up. But I think I've found a solution.

the solution

Even while only able to wake up by playing a sound, there's a better way to go about it. Waking up to an alarm is always unpleasant because of how sudden it is. The solution is sound that gets slowly louder over time. By going from inaudible to very loud over say, 5 minutes, the sound gradually wakes you up instead of doing it suddenly. To this end, I created a sound file that's just white noise (actually brownian noise because it sounds nicer) which fades in over 5 minutes.

./alarm.wav

(if you can, please generate your own instead of downloading to save bandwidth. it'll probably even be faster.)

I've woken up to this many times now, and honestly, it feels... pretty much the same as waking up naturally. Which is better than any typical alarm sound. So I can say the experiment works for me. I don't know if it'll work for everybody, but if you think you need to be waking up more gradually, I encourage you to try setting it as your alarm. And for one more thing - if you like the idea of waking up to music, you can of course apply the same thing to music instead of just noise. I haven't tested this as much, but the few times I have, it went fairly well. I encourage you to design a sound that works for you.

^