Ask LH: How Can I Train Myself To Obey My Alarm?

Ask LH: How Can I Train Myself To Obey My Alarm?

Dear Lifehacker, I find it difficult to wake up in the morning and rely heavily on phone alarms. However, I find myself semi-consciously turning them off. I’ve been known to hit the snooze button without even realising it. Is there something (say an app or service) that can help me “train” myself to pay more attention to the alarms? Hell, I’d even consider something akin to GymPact which took money off me for not waking up! Thanks, Sleepy Head

Dear SH,

It sounds like you need a more invasive wake-up solution — something that’s harder to switch off and/or ignore. Instead of paying someone on Airtasker to toss a bucket of water over your head, we recommend one of the following apps.

If you’re an iOS user, give Game Up Alarm Clock a try. This is an ingeniously simple app for snooze-button addicts like yourself — it requires the user to play puzzle games such as naughts-and-crosses on their phone before the alarm can be switched off. Crucially, there’s also no snooze button.

As the app explains on its iTunes page:

“Game Up will be merciless with its caffeine powered alarms whose sole purpose is to get you out of bed aware. The challenging but beatable games get your mental juices going when you need them the most. By the time you beat the game it will be easier to get out of bed than going back to sleep.”

The great thing about this app is that it forces your brain into puzzle-solving mode which increases the likelihood of waking up properly. At the same time, the games aren’t taxing enough to stress you out first thing in the morning: instead, they’re just simple little puzzles to kick-start your mind.

Game Up Alarm Clock has all of the other features you would expect in an alarm clock, including a weather forecast, the ability to select songs from your playlist as the alarm and gesture based controls. The app originally cost $1.29 but is currently free to download. Get it here.

If you’re on Android, you might want to check out Mimicker Alarm. This is the latest brainchild from Microsoft’s Garage Project.

As its name implies, it requires the user to mimic an action shown onscreen before the alarm can be switched off. The “Mimics” range from taking a selfie (which we don’t recommend sharing in your bleary-eyed state) to successfully repeating a tongue twister into your phone’s microphone. If you fail to complete the task in time, the alarm will bug you to do something else.

This video explains how it works in further detail:

Mimicker Alarm comes with an inbuilt tutorial, assorted customisation options and a choice between snooze or dismiss for each alarm. The app normally costs $2.99 but is free for a limited time. Download it here.

On a related note, if you regularly sleep through alarms, the problem probably lies in your sleeping habits rather than the wake-up tools you’re using. For tips on how to make healthier choices, check out our guide to getting a better night’s sleep and rebooting your sleep schedule. If anyone has different solutions, let SH know in the comments section below.

Cheers Lifehacker

Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our [contact text=”contact form”].


  • Get one of those timer things that go on powerpoints and set it 2 minutes past your normal alarm going off time. Attach it to a shredder and stick a $20 note in it. Put it across the room.

    Or just plug your phone in out of arms reach of your bed?

    • Was gonna say the same thing as your second point – put somewhere where you’ll need to get up to turn it off.

  • Screeching, insanely loud noise in the kitchen/living/whatever room.

    Either that, or attach electrodes to some choice body organs…

  • I use Sleep for Android and have maths puzzles as the shutoff. Just make sure you match it to your level of ability- I got too good at the easier ones and could do them half asleep.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!