Do you often get out of bed startled by your alarm, groggy, with one eye still closed, stubbing your toe on the bed frame and then falling over when you try and brush your teeth before burning yourself on the toaster?
AXbo has created an alarm clock that wakes you up a little more gently. It uses sleep cycles to determine when you're in deep slumber, and waking up would be difficult, and when you're just lightly drowsing and can be safely woken up without too much fuss.
Here's the science bit. Every night, people go through cycles - cycles of light and deep sleep. One cycle lasts between 90 and 110 minutes, and so the average person goes through three to five of them in a night. Waking up during the deep section of the cycle is bad - you'll feel tired and grumpy.
However, if you wake up in a light part of the cycle then you'll be fresh, happy and raring to go. The AXbo alarm clock aims to do precisely that, by letting you set a target time and then waking you up with a gentle (and selectable) sound that slowly rises in volume at an appropriate "light" point in the half hour before that.
The monitoring of your sleep is done by a couple of different-sized sweatbands which measure your movement. If you're stirring and moving around then it assumes you're sleeping lightly and wakes you up. If you don't move an inch in the half-hour before your target-wakeup time, then a more violent beeping alarm will rouse you.
It comes with two wristbands so that two people can be woken up individually, and a choice of six ringtones. The alarm clock unit itself has a rechargable battery and certainly isn't on the unattractive side, coming with a transparent backlit LCD display.
Setting the system up and using it is pretty intuitive. All you have to do is remember to put your wristband on, and deactivate the alarm on weekends, and you're all set. In our testing, we found that we did indeed wake up a little more gently, without the sudden jolt awake that traditional alarm clocks give you. We selected a soothing birdsong sound to wake up to, and found it very pleasant.
However, our trial partner found that she would wake up gently, then turn the alarm off and go straight back to sleep. AXbo cautions in its manual: "It is essential to choose the optimum wake-up moment chosen by aXbo and get up straight away in order to feel fresh and ready to go". As a result there's no snooze function, which could be a problem if you're not a morning person.
There's a couple of other additional features - gentle music for you to fall asleep to, auto-lighting of the display if you make a movement in the night, and a software application that lets you display your sleep habits in an interesting - if slightly daunting - graph. It would have been nice to have had a little more explanation of your graph and what it means.
AXbo's alarm clock is a nifty little gadget that promises a little more science than it actually delivers. In reality, all that it seemed to us to be doing was setting off an alarm when there was a bit of movement on a sensor in the half an hour before a set time.
It's a pity that there's no snooze button - the option to delay for an extra half hour, or even just 10 minutes - and that the included software for sleep analysis is confusing and a little pointless. The price is steep too - £180 for an alarm clock is whoppingly expensive.
However, at its core, the relatively simple idea behind the gadget has been executed very well by the company. The gentle sound of birdsong is a pleasure to wake up to, and having the clock watching over you, gently waking you up when you stir, is lovely. You'll rise and quite genuinely shine.