If you don't like a screeching alarm jolting you awake in the morning, you can wake up a bit more pleasantly by simulating a rising sun with a gradual, timed halogen lamp hooked up to your clock.
You'll need some more advanced electronics skills to pull this off, but that's a small price to pay for waking up comfortably. In general, the project consists of patching the alarm signal on the clock through a microprocessor that slowly brightens the halogen lamp over a course of 20 minutes. There's also a failsafe alarm built into this model, which, after 20 minutes of brightening, will sound the regular clock alarm just in case you haven't awoken yet. Hit the link for full instructions on how to build it, and let us know your peaceful awakening tips in the comments.