While traditional alarm clocks—or your iPhone—may be great at rousing you from your slumber, they’re also full of features that can compromise sleep. Those problems led Boulderites Jamie Kripke and Howie Rubin to tap into the latest sound science to design OneClock, a new take on helping us wake.

The Problem: Hitting the snooze button once or twice—or, OK, seven times—may feel good, but it ultimately leads to a sluggish morning. It takes about 90 minutes to get into the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep, the restorative state of slumber, meaning micro-naps between alarms only make you foggy.
The Fix: OneClock simply does not offer a snooze button. The design decision might scare some customers away, but Rubin and Kripke know it’s simply too tempting to exist.

The Problem: When an alert’s sound never changes, it becomes ineffective. Scientists study this phenomenon (called alarm fatigue) in hospitals, where workers tune out repetitive floods of beeps over time.
The Fix: Some hospitals now use an ever-shifting variety of sounds to ensure doctors and nurses don’t ignore them. The OneClock team took that lesson and designed an audio filter that subtly rearranges the composition you hear each morning. “It may lead with a different frequency or pitch,” Eli Mishkin, a OneClock sonic strategist, says. You can even buy albums on its website composed by musicians—such as Jon Natchez of the War on Drugs—exclusively for OneClock.

The Problem: Blaring alarms stir you, sure, but their shrieks also make you tense. When you wake up, levels of the stress hormone cortisol naturally spike—and people report even higher levels of stress and anxiety if they’re woken by a loud sound, according to Broussard.
The Fix: OneClock’s alarm begins with quiet tones designed to nudge—not drop-kick—your brain into consciousness. The initial hums gradually give way to simple melodies that grow in complexity and volume, gently lifting you into consciousness.

The Problem: Your alarm clock keeps you awake with its luminous digits. Myriad studies blame artificial light for disrupting our circadian rhythms, and using your cell phone’s alarm isn’t a loophole. “Your cell phone is addictive, and if it’s in your bedroom, you’re going to be looking at its glowing screen before going to bed,” Josiane Broussard, director of the Sleep and Metabolism Lab at Colorado State University and OneClock’s sleep expert, says.
The Fix: Other than a small bulb you can switch on, OneClock lacks lumens.

The Problem: Many alarm clocks harm the Earth’s health too. “I’ve purchased alarm clocks made so cheaply that the factory glued the plastic together,” Kripke says. “There’s no way to fix it if it breaks, so it just winds up in a landfill.”
The Fix: OneClock is made of aluminum and white oak panels. The materials contribute to the product’s hefty price tag ($299), but the former can be recycled and the latter can be composted.

This article was originally published in 5280 Health 2022.
Angela Ufheil
Angela Ufheil
Angela Ufheil is a Denver-based journalist and 5280's former digital senior associate editor.