I’m a terrible sleeper. I struggle with falling asleep, and staying asleep. I got it from my dad, and I’ve tried meditation, different levels of mattress and pillow softness, earplugs, heavy curtains, and everything I can think of. And I’ve learned a few things over the years of trying to feel rested: I need a little bit of distraction to occupy my mind to fall asleep, and once I’m there, I need an absolutely black and silent room to stay that way.
Thusly, I did everything I could to not upgrade my alarm clock I’d had since I was ten. Not an analog clock with hands (the ticking drives me nuts), but a basic, electronic LED red alarm clock that told me the time, had a non-distracting face, and stayed out of the way.
And then it broke, and I needed a new one. So I went to the store, and bought a basic, simple replacement. And it glowed like a freaking train engine. I mean it: I could read by the light of this thing. So, I took it back, and tried another. Same thing. See, most contemporary alarm clocks are lit by LCDs, and apparently, LCDs are really bright, and I mostly hate them.
It took four more alarm clocks, and I finally found an alarm clock that has an adjustable brightness. Brilliant! Plus, I can charge my phone and listen to music with it. But, it’s still pretty bright in an otherwise dark room. Luckily, I came up with a solution that helped immensely, for only a quarter.
Materials and Tools
- Alarm clock
- Measuring tape or ruler
- Semi-transparent, colored plastic binders dividers ($1.19 for 5 at the office supply store)
- Scissors and/or craft knife
1) Begin by measuring the display of your alarm clock. Don’t just say, “It’s roughly 3 x 1 inches;” be very exact, and don’t be afraid of figures like “19/64s”.
2) Cut a strip the same height as the display, and then cut it to length. My display has rounded corners, so I tried to mimic that.
3) You might be lucky, and the new “diffuser” might stick by static cling. Mine didn’t, so I spritzed just a little water on it, let it nearly dry, then smacked it on. It’s stayed in position for two weeks, and doesn’t seem like it’ll go anywhere.
Here are two photos to compare the difference. Of course, it’s tough to take pictures of a tiny light source in the dark, but here’s the alarm clock before and after, using the same exposure (F1.8, 1/60, ISO 1000) on both images. As I mentioned above, the clock does have an adjustable brightness, but both of these are taken on the dimmest setting, I promise. (You can see that the lighted buttons above are the same)
And with the addition:
It may not look like a huge difference in the photos, but in a dark room, it’s like night and day. Sorta literally… It does change the color, which I think actually helps, but the biggest difference is in the reflections. Without the addition, the light bounces off my dresser and the walls the surround it, lighting up the whole corner. With the binder divider attached, the reflection is calmed a lot, and the overall brightness is much subdued. You can still see the numbers clearly at nighttime and during the day.
Pretty sweet, huh?