THE BLOG

I Stopped Using My iPhone as an Alarm Clock, What Happened Next Blew My Mind*

15/09/2014 17:37 BST | Updated 15/11/2014 10:59 GMT

*(Was Mildly Interesting)

Everyone knows that having electrical items in the bedroom is A Bad Thing. I'm not talking lamps, hairdryers or, y'know, the other sort of electrical items people keep in their bedrooms (electric blankets) - but things like TVs and computers. These, boffins tell us, fry our brain before we go to sleep and as a result fry our brain while we're trying to get to sleep. They probably also fry our brains while we're asleep, especially if the last thing we've done is watch an episode of Question Time. Nobody should allow Melanie Phillips or Nigel Farage into their bedroom and, thus, into their nightmares.

I don't have a TV in my bedroom and I rarely use a computer in there - but one thing I am guilty of having by my bedside is an iPhone. My iPhone which is, of course, not just a phone but also An Unputdownable Gateway To The Internet - and an alarm clock. Using my iPhone as an alarm clock means that every time I pick it up to set the alarm last thing at night, I get distracted by its other functions (chiefly, being An Unputdownable Gateway To The Internet). This, as I know, is bad for me (see boffins' advice above) - so finally, in an attempt to break my unhealthy habit, I decided to replace it.

My first dilemma was, of course, what to replace it with. I'm not sure if BT still offer its emergency alarm clock service from the olden days - namely: you'd ask it to ring your house at a certain time, and it would - but it's not viable for me anyway, since I don't have a landline phone. So it would seem that my alternative alarm clock would have to be... an actual alarm clock. I quickly realised that Amazon, my first port of call when buying anything of an electrical nature, wasn't going to be of any use to me this time - as I needed to hear the sound the alarm clock makes. So I went to my first port of call when buying a slightly odd household item that you need to see a full array of: John Lewis.

After about five minutes in the alarm clock section of John Lewis, a few things became very clear. One: all alarm clocks make a horrible noise, and I'm amazed any of us survived waking up to a shrieking BEEP BEEP! BEEP BEEP! in the 1980s without committing daily homicide. Two: there exists an alarm clock that makes the sound of the TARDIS when it goes off, and if I was 10 years old, I would love this. Unfortunately, I am not a 10 years old. Three: the only alarm clock that doesn't make a horrible noise (or a TARDIS one) is one with a choice of two bird songs. I like this clock very much, but it costs £30. I consider this to be not just too much money but also too much of a risk - as while I like the idea of waking up to the sound of electronic bird song, chances are I could a) sleep through it and/or b) start to get irritated by it. And this in turn might lead to me being irritated by REAL bird song. Which could cause a problem any time I'm staying in the countryside.

Despondent at the prospect of waking up to BEEP BEEP! BEEP BEEP! or forking out £30 on my own dawn chorus, a third way suddenly occurred to me - the good old-fashioned clock radio. And it turned out that John Lewis sells just the thing: for £40 I can wake up to the sound of the human voice, or a Radio One DJ. For just £10 more than a bird alarm clock, I can get a DAB radio AND an alarm clock AND an iPhone dock (not that I'll use the latter at night - it would slightly defeat the object). I realise that a clock radio is still an electrical item, of course, so not ideal - but unlike the iPhone, it doesn't give me access to the internet. And as anyone who's got into bed holding an iPhone at 10:00pm intending to have their light off at 10:02pm but finding themselves, instead, on Facebook at 11pm, will know: internet access is what we're trying to avoid here. Plus, using a radio as a timer makes perfect sense to me. As a regular listener of Radio 4's 'Today' I already know, for example, that if I'm not doing my hair by the time Thought For The Day is on, I'm not going to make my train on time.

So this is what happened in the first week that I stopped using my iPhone as an alarm clock, and used a £40 clock radio instead:

Day 1 - I decide to wake up to Radio 4 and Today (the choice of station has to be set the night before by whatever station you've last been listening to, which is slightly annoying, as for me, last night, it was Jazz FM's Late Lounge. I may write to John Lewis about this design aspect). Today turns out to be a good choice, although I pick a volume setting that's too high and John Humphrys' voice has never boomed so loudly across my bedroom. Also: at night, I realise that the clock radio screen beams a bright shade of blue, which I have to cover up with a book. It's not ideal, but at least I don't cover it up with my iPhone (which remains on my bedside table, switched off).

Day 2 - Once again, I wake up to Radio 4, and a slightly quieter John Humphrys (I have the volume level sorted now). There's a problem with the snooze function - as in, I haven't worked out how to use it and it doesn't feel particularly instinctive (I may write to John Lewis about this design aspect). My iPhone has moved from my beside table to my bag. This feels good, if a little weird.

Day 3 - I have to take the clock radio from my boyfriend's flat to my own (one disadvantage of swearing off an iPhone, of course, is that I will now have to take my new clock radio with me wherever I go. Or fork out on more than one). I've worked out how to use the snooze function - i.e. I don't use it - and realise how much I'm liking waking up to the sound of a voice. My iPhone is now in another room overnight. This feels really good, if a lot weird.

Day 4 - I wake up to the sound of James Naughtie's dulcet tones - nice, but no Humphrys. I tune into Radio 6 to see what I would have woken up to had I chosen that as my station, and I'm pretty sure it's a track by Carter USM. As a result, it strikes me as too much of a risk to choose Radio 6 of a morning, even if I like Stuart Maconie's voice. Likewise, I know it would be too much of a risk setting it to Jazz FM (my other music station of choice) because I could wake up to an advert for Mishcon De Reya, or worse still, a Michael Bublé track.

Day 5 - I decide to mix things up and try Classic FM. I wake to a voice introducing Beethoven's 'Pathétique' Sonata - which is absolutely lovely, and would be the perfect gentle music to wake up to were it not so much like a lullaby. My iPhone is once again in another room - and I am genuinely finding it odd to sit in bed twiddling my thumbs before turning the light off. What do other people do at this point? What did I used to do before I had an iPhone? Apart from read books and get a really sound night's sleep?

Day 6 - Classic FM again: this station is definitely the way forward when wanting a change from Radio 4. But before I turn my light out, I wrestle with a dilemma: I really, really want to write a reminder to myself about something, but my iPhone is in the other room - and this is exactly the sort of thing I use my iPhone for. In a perfect meeting of self-control and laziness, I manage to resist getting out of bed, getting my iPhone and writing the reminder. The experience brings home to me how this whole iPhone-discipline thing might also be an opportunity to improve my memory skills and/or buy a notepad and pen for my bedside table.

Day 7 - While I was setting the alarm last night, I was enjoying the Classic FM track that was on so much that I decided to try out the clock radio's sleep function. As a result, the alarm clock failed to work. (I may write to John Lewis about this design aspect.)

So that was my first week. Will I carry on using my clock radio as an alarm clock? Yes. Have I worked out how its snooze function works? No. But I'm not going to let a little thing like that hold me back. I've realised that waking up to the sound of a human voice - unless it's someone screaming 'The house is on fire!' - is far preferable to waking up to an iPhone alarm (yes, even Slow Rise). I've realised that it is possible to switch off from the internet, especially if you keep your iPhone in another room and you're a bit lazy. And I've realised that twiddling my thumbs in bed is much nicer than using them to refresh my Facebook feed for the tenth time. Especially when it's 11pm, and I really should be asleep.