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For most of my college years (and, erm, most of 2021), I barely slept. I bragged about running on four hours of shut-eye a night. “C’mon, you can sleep when you’re dead,” I would say to my roommates when they passed on another episode, a night out, or a continued conversation.
However, there were clear downfalls to this ethos. I was always becoming sick, falling asleep at my desk by noon, and chugging cup after cup of coffee. My sleep “routine” was nonexistent. I scrolled on TikTok in bed until I passed out and woke up to the sounds of my blaring iPhone alarm. Something had to change.
I had heard about the Hatch Restore alarm clock for months. “It’s a game changer,” TikTok personalities would proclaim. It seemed especially relevant to my particular living situation. As someone who lives in a room with zero natural light (thank you, New York City apartment standards), I was intrigued by the device’s simulated sunrise. Still, at $129, the high price tag gave me pause. How great could an alarm clock really be? Eventually, annoyed be my tired days and constant illness, I splurged. I had to see if it lived up to the hype.
The Hatch alarm clock: An honest review
Setting up my Hatch Restore
The Hatch alarm clock does require the ability to pair it with your smartphone. So, unfortunately, this isn’t a tech-free sleep solution. Additionally, in order to it to work, the device needs to be plugged in at all times, which was a drawback for me. (Outlet space is my room is valuable.) However, ultimately, the digital set-up was relatively easy. After downloading the Hatch app, I connected my clock to my iPhone via Bluetooth. I was then able to completely customize my sleep routine with different sounds and lights.
Paralyzed by the plethora of options, I reminded myself to come back to the reality of my sleeping habits. As someone who likes to sleep in silence, I chose to forgo the nightly rain sounds. And knowing my ability to sleep through alarm after alarm, I decided to wake up to a regular beep (called “signal”), instead of soothing wind chimes or a calm ocean. (For an additional fee, I could also create a “bedtime routine,” but I chose to skip the extra cost.)
I was also eager to wake up to the programmed “Malibu Sunrise” instead of darkness. The clock gives you the ability to select your desired “sunrise duration.” During this period, the device will gradually brighten, offering you a gentler wake-up. I selected a 30-minute sunrise, with the alarm sound scheduled to go off at the end of the period.
If you suffer from seasonal affective disorder, this type of clock could be especially useful. The bright light mimics a therapy lamp, making it not only beneficial for your sleep, but also your mood and energy levels, says Sarah Silverman, a behavioral sleep medicine specialist.
Waking up to the Hatch alarm clock
My first morning waking up to the Hatch Restore left me feeling a bit confused. Typically, I’m jolted awake by the sound of my blaring alarm after inadvertently hitting snooze a few too many times. But on this day, I woke up naturally to the sound of… nothing. The fake sunshine had woken me up.
This pattern continued for the following week until one day I found myself waking up to the Hatch’s beeps. Even then, the experience proved more pleasurable than my pre-Hatch mornings and I experienced none of my typical grogginess. Since using the Hatch, I start my day feeling more alert and rested. The quality of my sleep just seems better. I fall asleep faster and don’t toss and turn as much as I had previously.
Science suggests that it’s not just my imagination. By simulating the sun rising through the gradual morning light, the Hatch alarm clock sends signals to your brain to reset your clock—and set your circadian rhythms in motion for the day, Silverman says. However, the secret lies in staying consistent with your wake window. Your brain relies on these consistent patterns in order to train its master clock. “In theory, if you’re getting that light gradually about the same time each morning, then your brain will release your production of melatonin around the same time each evening,” she says. This ultimately helps with sleep onset, enabling you to fall asleep more easily.
I can attest to that. Recently, I spent a few days away from my beloved alarm clock, and my sleep suffered as a result. The excitement of returning home didn’t have as much to do with being back in my bed as much as it revolved around reuniting with my Hatch Restore.
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