Gentle Alarm™ v3.9.0
While you sleep, you drift forth and back between phases of deep sleep and light sleep. As you can see on the illustration, shortly after falling asleep you enter a very deep sleep phase. You don't want to wake up at this time. After a while, you enter a light sleep phase during which you dream and your eyes move rapidly from side to side (REM, rapid eye movement). If you wake up at this time, you will feel more refreshed and you will also be able to remember your dreams more easily.
As you approach the last few hours of your sleep, the sleep phases become shorter and generally take about one hour. When you are in a light sleep phase, you will wake up even to music playing at a low volume but you will feel refreshed. However, if you wake up during a deep sleep phase, you will hear the alarm only if it is really loud and waking up in this stage will still make you feel like you got hit by a hammer.
So how do you make sure you wake up during light sleep? During the last few hours of sleep, a sleep cycle takes about one hour, so light sleep and deep sleep alternate every 30 minutes or so. Let's say you need to wake up at 7am and you set your alarm to that time. Now we program an additional pre-alarm at 6:30am at a much lower volume.
This is so simple that we are almost embarrassed to write about it. But the effect is huge: If, at 6:30am you are in deep sleep, you will not hear this pre-alarm. At 7am, you will then wake up to the regular alarm. However, if you are in light sleep at 6:30am, you will wake up to the pre-alarm, refreshed even though you got half an hour less sleep than your regular alarm time would have allowed (sleeping that extra half hour would have put you back into deep sleep).
Now, of course this whole concept only works if it is really easy to use and you don't have to program multiple alarm times. That's why we developed Gentle Alarm where you can use alarm profiles to easily program pre-alarms.
The idea behind power napping is to just doze off when you feel like taking a nap but to wake up before you enter the first deep sleep phase. If you wake up in time, you may feel slightly light-headed for a minute or two but then you will feel refreshed. If you sleep too long, you will feel groggy for the rest of the day. Of course, we have another application for that, called Sleep Now which you can use to power nap, to sleep during travel, or
The main screen shows the next alarm at the bottom of the screen. Tap it to...
Double-tap the display to customize how Gentle Alarm looks:
Colors can be freely chosen to match your backgrounds.
You can adjust the transparency of the background and of elements on the screen. Choose between:
Adjust the brightness by sliding a finger along the left edge. You can automatically launch the night display (or only between 8pm and 6am):
These night display options take effect when you launch the night display and are turned off when you exit it:
Night display customization
Double-tap the night display to change...
Quickly set an alarm that rings only once, e.g. for a nap. You can enter the time for the alarm or the duration after which the alarm should play.
When the alarm rings...
When the alarm rings, the music may fade in slowly and the display may slowly become brighter. You can adjust:
Ringer mode: Do you want Gentle Alarm to consider the ringer mode? If you turn your ringer mode to vibrate, Gentle Alarm can play all alarms in vibration-only mode. They even fade-in slowly so that you can turn the alarm off before anybody else hears it.
If you find the display hard to read in the morning, you can choose big buttons instead [main settings]. The display will initially show with no buttons so it can display the clock larger.
Touching the display will bring up dismiss and snooze buttons. This may not work if you use a Microsoft Exchange account which may force an additional lock screen. In this case do not use large buttons.
If you do not dismiss or snooze the alarm during the duration set in the profiles, the alarm will automatically snooze and a notification will set in the status bar. If you are worried about oversleeping, set the "safe alarm" option in the alarm settings. Then a loud beeping will wake you if do you not react to the alarm.
Pre-alarm: If the pre-alarm is playing you should not wake up from it if you are in deep sleep. If this happens, the pre-alarm is set too loud. You can then press the snooze button to silence the pre-alarm. The main alarm will still ring at the normal alarm time.
If you are known to turn off the alarm in your sleep, set up a little challenge to prove that you are awake. You can set this challenge to dismiss the alarm and also to snooze.
Careful: If you enabled the flip-to-snooze feature, no challenge will be given if you flip over the device.
If you prefer solving math equations, you can choose from several difficulties and set time limits. The alarm music will play with a lower volume while you solve the equation.
List of alarms
Long-click on any of the alarms for further options, e.g. to play an alarm now for testing. Use the menu button to add a new alarm.
You can choose when the alarm should play:
Safe alarm: If you set the safe alarm option, a loud beeping sound will be played after the alarm finishes your chosen alarm music. This allows you to set your alarm to gently wake you up. In case you still sleep at the end of the alarm, the safe alarm will wake you up for sure.
There are still a lot of settings missing: alarm music, display settings, speech output, etc. You set these by choosing an alarm profile.
Gentle Alarm splits the settings of alarms in two parts:
By separating the settings, you can quickly set an alarm by setting the alarm time and choosing an alarm profile. Many people use alarm profiles such as these:
When you set an alarm, just set the time and choose one of your profiles. If you want to change how all your workday alarms, simply change the workday profile.
List of profiles
Long-click on any of the profiles for further options. Use the menu button to add a new profile.
Alarm profile settings
The profile consists of three tabs:
The main alarm and the optional pre-alarm are two distinct alarms. For both you can set volume levels, choose different music, etc.
Pre-alarm: This helps you to wake up during light sleep and not deep sleep. If you set a pre-alarm to play before your main alarm at a very low volume, you will wake up to this alarm only if you happen to be in light sleep at this time. If you are in deep sleep, you will sleep through it and will wake up to the main alarm playing at the set alarm time at a higher volume. To get the most out of pre-alarms, follow these guidelines:
Speech input If you have Android 2.0+, you can set your alarm in English language using the voice search app installed on your phone. Then speak:
Speech output works for Android 1.6+ if you have a TTS engine installed. All speech output can be customized by text you type, the current time, the time of the next alarm, the number of minutes an alarm has been playing, etc.
You can specify a message when you tap on the night display. As the message plays, you can adjust the volume with the volume keys.
Here's an example. Set this custom text for the next display:
Even better, the name and note from above can be entered via speech input.
You can specify a message for when the alarm rings. Within the alarm profiles, you can set how often to play this message (e.g. every 2 minutes). For greater clarity, the volume of the alarm music is reduced while the message is read.
You can specify a message for when the alarm is dimissed. You decide for each profile if this message should be read or not.