How to Use Your Smart Watch or Fitness Tracker as a Silent Alarm Clock

When you need to wake up without disturbing everyone around you a silent vibration-based alarm clock is just the ticket. Many smart watches and fitness trackers have just such a feature built in and you can easily take advantage of it with just a few settings tweaks.

Why Do I Want To Do This?

There are two practical reasons for switching to (or at least complimenting your traditional alarm) with a silent alarm. The reason most people begin investigating silent alarms is they need to rouse themselves from slumber without disturbing the people around them: be it partners sleeping immediately next to them or roommates on the other side of thin walls.

RELATED: How to Build a Sunrise Alarm Clock on the Cheap

By swapping out a vibration-based alarm that touches their body with a loud audio-based alarm the stimulus is generally limited to the person who needs the alarm (unless the partner is question is an incredibly light sleeper).

Further, even if there is no one nearby to disturb, many people (myself included) find it much easier to wake up via vibration on the wrist rather than a blaring alarm clock that may or may not be ignored depending on how deep one is sleeping.

If you already have a device that supports vibration-based alarm there’s really no good reason not to try it out. If you need a way to wake up without disturbing anyone or just need that extra kick to get out of bed, it might just be worth picking up one of the cheaper fitness trackers highlighted in today’s article to help.

While you’re overhauling your wake-up routine, by the way, we’d also recommend considering incorporating light into your routine. We use the Philips Hue system as a sunrise simulator and getting out of bed on even the darkest winter day is easy.

Setting Silent Alarms On Common Devices

There are far more devices capable of functioning as silent vibration-based alarms than we can reasonably cover here. We’ve covered the four largest wearable/smart watch brands but if your device isn’t listed we’d encourage you to do a quick Google search to see if you can use it as a silent alarm.

Pebble

Both the original Pebble and Pebble Time (as well as their variants) all have a simple vibration alarm built in. The Pebble watches, especially the original one, are particular well suited for this task as they have very strong vibratory motors inside and in the experience of many users (as well as our own experience) they offer some of the strongest vibrations around.

Because vibration is the only non-visual way the Pebble can communicate with you there are no special steps to enable vibration alert. Simply navigate on your Pebble watch to the Alarms menu, set the time you want the alarm to go off, and save your selection. At the appointed hour the watch will shake violently on your wrist and wake you.

Note only is the native alarm function the Pebble sufficient for the task but the Pebble works really well as a sleep tracker/sleep optimization tool thanks to integration with popular sleep apps like Sleep as Android and native watch app sleep tools like Morpheus.

The default Pebble alarm has no sleep quality/tracking options. Companion apps like those mentioned above do add in sleep tracking and metrics.

Apple Watch

The Apple Watch is really not an idea fit for this task (nor or any other smart watches that require daily charging). Nonetheless you can, in fact, use the Apple Watch as a silent alarm clock although we’d only suggest doing so in a pinch (like when you’re traveling and need to get up much earlier than your suite mates). If you do opt to use the Apple Watch this way, definitely charge it for a spell before you actually turn in for the evening because you’ll be missing out on the usual overnight charging routine.

To set a watch-based alarm simply tap on the crown to open the app menu, select the alarm clock icon to open the native alarm app on the watch, and set the time. When it comes time for the alarm to go off you’ll feel the haptic engine in the watch vibrate and a very very faint chime sound. The chime sound is so faint you probably don’t even need to turn it off, but if you wish to do so can use the watch settings Glance (the same one that has the airplane mode option and the locate iPhone option) to silence the watch.

Apple Watch does not offer any sort of native sleep tracking nor, at the time of this publication, is there an app designed for sleep tracking that operates solely off the Apple Watch. The sleep sensor company Beddit, however, recently announced an Apple Watch app that integrates with their under-bed sleep sensor system (for those of you looking for a high tech sleep tracking solution)

FitBit

Many of the FitBit models support the silent alarm feature including the Force, Charge, Charge HR, Flex, One, and Surge. Like the aforementioned Pebble there are no special settings to toggle as vibration is the way the FitBit notifies you.

To set the alarm simply open up the FitBit control application on your mobile device, select “Silent Alarms”, select “Set a New Alarm” and the time, and save it. You can also add alarms to your FitBit via the dashboard at Fitbit.com by logging in, clicking on the setting gear in the upper right corner, and creating a silent alarm via the alarm menu located on the left-hand side of the screen. If you use the dashboard be sure to click the FitBit Connect icon in the lower right corner and sync your data.

For additional help you can read the official support documents for managing FitBit silent alarms with iOS, Android, Windows Phones, and via dashboard. The FitBit app offers basic sleep tracking and metrics.

Jawbone

A variety of the Jawbone fitness trackers support vibration-based alarms including the Up, UP24, UP3. While FitBit calls them “silent alarms”, Jawbone refers to them as “smart alarms” but the functionality is the same.

To set a silent alarm on your Jawbone fitness tracker, open the mobile application and navigate to the settings menu (in iOS you tap “Home” and then the “+” symbol, on Android you tap “Home” and then on the alarm clock icon).

Select “Smart” alarm (different from the Jawbone’s “Idle” inactivity alarm and power nap alarm), set the time, adjust the alarm settings (the Jawbone can do “smart” sleep where it wakes you at an optimum time on or before your alarm and not necessarily right at the exact time), and save your settings.

The Jawbone app offers basic sleep tracking and metrics.


Whether you opt to go the full-blown smart watch route and pick up a Pebble to serve as both a watch and a solid sleep tracker or you go for a fitness-oriented route with a JawBone or FitBite

Image courtesy of Sleep As Android/Pebble, FitBit. 

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.