Alarming alarms for snooze button addicts

Alarming alarms for snooze button addicts

  • Antonia Hoyle tries out the apps offering brutal ways to force us out of bed
  • READ MORE: Want to wake up feeling fresh? Try this sleep calculator which tells you the PERFECT time to hit the sack

Seven o’clock on Saturday morning, and I am running semi-conscious around a friend’s garden in my nightie, attempting to stifle what sounds like a children’s television show theme tune blaring from my phone.

My behaviour is a last-ditch attempt to learn how to get out of bed, because only when I have taken 100 steps will the blasted alarm on the smartphone stop.

Over the summer I have found it increasingly difficult to detach from my duvet, despite deploying two alarms — one on my iPhone and the other on a bedside radio.

When they go off on a weekday at 5.45am I hit snooze, again and again. I’m stuck in limbo, which, as a time-pressed working mother-of-two feels criminally wasteful.

Before I know it, the long workout and life admin I’ve planned have been shelved. 

Over the summer, Antonia found it increasingly difficult to get out of bed, despite setting two alarms everyday

My husband Chris, who usually wakes at the same time but irritatingly manages to get up immediately for work, refuses to shove me out of bed.

Now with school back, intervention is suggested by our daughter, Rosie, 12. 

‘You know you can get an app for your phone that starts an alarm that won’t turn off until you’ve done a load of maths and got the answers right?’ she asks. I did not. 

Nor did I realise there are other apps offering similarly brutal ways to force me out of bed. But can any ring in the changes?


Challenges Alarm Clock (Free and paid-for versions on Apple and Android)

Challenges Alarm Clock makes you complete a game to turn the alarm off 

To jolt the brain into action, this presents a randomised memory game. I pick a ‘ticking noise’ alarm. 

I have to complete a game to stop the vibrating, which means remembering the order in which ten cats on my screen flash.

After five minutes of irate screen jabbing, I cheat. Disappointed the alarm didn’t actually ring and that I resorted to cheating, I go back to sleep.



Mathe Alarm Clock (for Apple and Android, free or £7.99 for the ad-free version)

The Mathe app makes you complete maths problems on waking

Stupidly, I choose the hardest of three levels on the spuriously spelt Mathe app, and the maximum number of ten exercises to complete before the alarm will switch off.

When the alarm sounds, I must choose which of two sums that make absolutely no sense. 

Every time I answer wrongly another exercise is added, and after seven minutes I can stand no more and turn my phone off. 

When I turn it back on after my workout, it’s still ringing. I wake Rosie for help. ‘Did you not learn this in school?’ she asks, typing in the answers.



Loud Alarm Clock (free, or £3.99 for an ad-free version for Apple and Android)

Loud Alarm Clock has ‘volume-boosted’ audio files 

Who wouldn’t want to be woken up by a fire alarm, which, thanks to this app’s ‘volume-boosted’ audio files, is more deafening than an iPhone alarm on max?

The other nine alarms are unpleasant, from an evacuation drill to nails running down a chalkboard. 

When the air-raid siren wails the next morning I jolt upright. ‘Surely even you have to get up now?’ Chris asks, unimpressed that his own day has got off to such a dramatic start. 

I do, the adrenaline pumping through my veins.



Alarmy (for Apple and Android, free or £5.99 a month for ad-free premium version)

Alarmy makes you take a certain number of steps on waking 

The Alarmy app’s paid-for version offers nine ‘missions’ to turn off the alarm. I choose a ‘happy clap’ alarm and set myself a target of 100 steps.

We’re staying with friends but, I need to work. Determined not to wake everyone else at 7am, I stumble outside. 

I circle the rain-sodden grass, not noticing that I hadn’t clicked to officially start the challenge — so I have to keep on walking until my 100 steps are completed before I can finally go back indoors. 



Barcode Alarm Clock makes you scan a barcode to turn the alarm off

Barcode Alarm Clock (for Apple, free or £7.99 for the ad-free version)

Forcing you into movement, this makes you scan a barcode with your smartphone to turn your alarm off. 

I choose the barcode on the Rice Krispies. Next morning I stagger downstairs when the alarm rings. 

By 5.50am I’ve turned it off — and breakfast is out, too. 




FreakyAlarm (for Apple, £1.99)

FreakyAlarm sets quick fire ‘games’ to get you out of bed

The first suggestion that the FreakyAlarm app is going to be a nightmare is the sound of shooting, after which I’m bombarded with quick-fire ‘games’.

Even the medium level feels like a maths GCSE on steroids, as I calculate sums to balance a weighing scale, organise dancing triangles by size, and compete on a high-speed game of noughts and crosses that nearly leaves me in tears, as the shooting sound gives way to a baby wailing.

My pride at finishing the seven games is punctured by the ‘donkey’ badge I am awarded for 15 errors. 

A masochistic start to the morning, although the app’s calendar charting your completion statistics could prove addictive.


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