A few years ago, while in New York on business, I woke up to the sun streaming through my hotel room and saw 9:15 AM on my phone.
I had overslept my alarm! My 7:30 AM breakfast meeting had come and gone. Texts filled my screen, asking if I was ok, and a second meeting was starting in 15 minutes. After muttering a few ch$%ce words, I leaped out of bed, threw on the first clothes I could find, and ran for the door.
A nice bottle of wine smoothed things over with my missed breakfast meeting, but I’m not likely to forget that moment of alarm clock panic anytime soon.
For anyone in the hard-of-hearing community, alarm clocks are anything but simple. For some, max volume isn’t enough to wake them; for others, a loud volume is jarring to their partner. And for those who don’t hear at all, sound-based alarms aren’t a solution.
In this guide, I’ll share my research on the best alarm clocks for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.
What to Look For in A Vibrating Alarm Clock
There are four big things you’ll want to consider when picking a hard of hearing friendly alarm clock.
Alarm Style: Vibrations Vs. Sound and Light
Most of the options below focus on vibration as the way to wake you up but some also offer lights and loud sounds. I’ll note those options.
Features: Simple or Complex
Some clocks have only a few buttons and a limited set of features. Others have numerous customization options (volume, duration of snooze time, multi partner settings and more). While I won’t outline every single feature below, I’ll breakdown the key customizations that are available.
Price: Ranging From $10 - $150
Most alarm clocks for the deaf and hard of hearing range from $10 to $150 but most commonly you’ll find devices around $50. I’ll note the price for each device below.
Size: Travel Friendly or Bedside Fixture
Many people will choose to travel with their vibrating alarm clock which means size is an important feature to consider. I’ll note the size for each clock below.
#1. Top Reviewed - Sonic Bomb
If you can look past the slightly aggressive name for a moment, you’ll find a feature-rich, highly reliable option with over ten thousand 5 star reviews on Amazon. The Sonic Bomb has three features that you can customize. The first is an up to 113 dB alarm volume (a car horn is 110 dB). The second is a set of flashing lights on the front of the clock, and the third is a bed shaker that will vibrate your side of the bed and is convenient for those who don’t want to wake their partner. The clock is $32 on Amazon, and the only downside is that it’s a bit large for regular travel.
Features: Battery backup if the power goes out. Separate wake up times for two partners. Green design reduces power usage by 60%.
Size: Weighs 1 Pound, 7 x 7 x 6 inches
Waking Style: Use the bed shaker, flashing red lights, extra loud alarm sound or all three
Price: $32 on Amazon or at retailers like Walmart and Home Depot
#2. Sleek Bedside Buddy - Bellman Alarm
This alarm makes the list for a full suite of features and a distinctly stylish aesthetic that merges analog and digital. The alarm starts quiet and ultimately can reach a VERY loud 100db. The Bellman also has LED lights that flash and a bed vibrator that is one of the most powerful on the market. The Bellman gets excellent reviews for its range of features, including a turn dial that changes the time instead of the traditional buttons that most clocks use.
Features: Turn dial makes for easier time changes, smart snooze reduces the time between alarms after you snooze the first time
Size: Weighs 1 Pound, 6.1 x 5.7 x 6.5 inches
Waking Style: Progressively louder alarm, lights, bed shaker or all three
Price: $112 on Amazon
#3. Travel Hero - Serene Innovations VA3
This 9-ounce alarm clock is perfect for travelers looking for a clock that has the power to get them up no matter what timezone they are on. The Serene Innovations VA3 has a built-in flashing light, vibrator, and very loud alarm. The alarms gradually increase in intensity to ensure you wake up. The device uses 3 AA batteries and comes with a clip that can be attached to your pillow if you prefer to use only the vibrator alarm option.
Features: Battery powered, pillow clip included
Size: 9.6 oz, 4.6 x 1.6 x 5.3 inches
Waking Style: Choose between vibration, light, sound or all three.
Price: $42 on Amazon
#3. Don’t Wake The House - Shake-N-Wake Watch
For those that live with roommates or sleep with a partner, a vibrating watch alarm could be a great solution. The Shake-N-Wake gets good reviews for effectively getting you out of bed and for its sleek design. There are some complaints online about a tedious setup process and some necessary features like a stopwatch, but if you can look past the initial setup, this is a cost-effective solution that won’t wake the whole house.
Features: Comfortable wrist wrap, LED backlight, battery powered
Size: 4 OZ meant for wear on the wrist at night
Waking Style: Vibration with the option of also adding a sound
#4. Simple Wrist Watch - eSeasonGear VB80
This last year I welcomed my first child into our home and quickly learned that waking my sleeping baby is among the LAST things I want for my morning routine.
I purchased the eSeasonGear VB80 and have been happy with the choice. This simple wristwatch-like device is a little confusing to set up but once I got it figured out (this video helped) it has been simple and efficient.
The watch is silent and gives a strong vibration at the alarm time. One important note is that after around a minute of vibration the vibration turns off and does not come back on. If you struggle to get out of bed in the morning you may need to set multiple alarms to ensure you don’t drift back to sleep. I only wear the eSeasonGear at night and haven’t had to recharge in over six weeks.
Features: Small, comfortable and durable
Size: Small comfortable size (similar to a FitBit)
Waking Style: Vibration
Price: $9 on Amazon
#5. Wake With Natural Light - Sunrise Alarm
This reasonably priced Sunrise Alarm uses a combination of light and sound to wake you more gently. The device slowly lights up over 30 minutes prior to your alarm time (you can adjust the timeframe). After 30 minutes the alarm ads in nature sounds, AM/FM radio or a traditional alarm.
This device isn't a sure bet if you absolutely MUST wake up at a specific time but it partners with your body's natural sensitivity to light for a kinder arrival into the morning.
Features: Uses light, includes AM/FM, includes nature sounds
Size: Weighs 1.10 pounds and measures 3.5 x 7.2 x 7.2 inches
Waking style: Light and sound (not as loud as other options on this list)
Price: $59.99 (often on sale)
If you have hearing loss and need an alarm clock with added oomph or vibration, you've got options. The quick fix might be a $9 wrist band or you could splurge on a brand like Bellman.
Remember, it's probably worth sharing your shortlist with a partner (if you have one) before you make a final decision - sleeping with a bedfellow is a team sport.
If you have questions or have tried a product that isn't on this list, I'd love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.