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We’ve all grown immune to our alarm clocks. I’ve gone through several alarm clocks because I’ve grown immune to each one. I could continue to buy a new alarm clock every few months, disturbing my roommates every time I hit the snooze button.

I’ve decided a few months ago to change up my tactics, not my alarm clocks to combat blaring sirens only my roommates hear, and skipping showers so I’m not late to work every morning.

Our bodies were designed to wake up at first light with the sun which doesn’t do much good in a dark room – no matter how loud the alarm clock is. I’ve seen sunrise alarm clocks advertise in various places, but those can be expensive ($100), especially on a college budget.

So I decided to build my own, and here’s how you can tool for less that $25.

1. The first thing that you’ll need is a cheap lamp. Any lamp will do, just make sure that it has an adjustable neck so it can hang over your bed. Kinda like the sun, get it?

sunrise alarm clock

2. You need to get a low-watt light bulb, something less than 60W. I recommend getting a halogen lamp. Although a standard lamp will do, halogens burn for much much longer (and better for the environment too :)).

halogen light bulb

3. Go to any general purpose store and buy yourself a light timer – they are cheap and will allow you to set what time to wake up.

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light timer

4. Set the green pin 15-20 minutes before you’d like to wake up. More if you’re like me and a deep sleeper, less if you are like a rabbit drinking coffee.

5. Set the red pin a good 30 minutes or so after you are planning on waking up, in case you have trouble one morning, that constant warm glow of your sunrise alarm clock will make sure you get out of bed.

6. Now you’re all set! You can begin waking up with your eyes, not your ears. The best thing is, your roommates won’t be bothered by it. It is silent, and not nearly bright enough, even for most spouses in the same bed.

Some tips to keep in mind

  • Test out your new sunrise clock on the weekend to make sure it works. Or if you prefer sleeping in, set it a bit earlier than normal during the week to make sure you are adjusted to your clock.
  • Run the time 360 degrees once around to make sure the light flicks on and off.
  • Remember to take the light bulb out on the weekends to avoid being awaken at 6am on a Saturday!
  • Remember to put the bulb back in on Sunday!
  • Alternate the use of a quite sound alarm clock to keep your brain on it’s toes, and for those mornings after a late night.

Good luck, and enjoy!