How to Hear Your Alarm Clock with Earplugs? [5 Simple Ideas]

How to Hear Your Alarm Clock with Earplugs

Are you concerned you might not hear your morning alarm if you are wearing earplugs?

I can usually hear my alarm even when wearing earplugs, provided I select a loud alarm tone and set my phone to maximum volume.

It has happened though that I didn’t hear it.

I should add that I often play a white noise machine in addition to wearing earplugs.

This combination shields me from most environmental noises (which is great), but it also makes it somewhat more difficult to hear my phone’s alarm.

So what do I do if I can’t be late, no matter what?

I set two alarms:  my phone alarm and a vibrating alarm on my smart watch. I wear the watch every night anyway because I want to track my sleep.

Here are a few additional ideas to help you hear your morning alarm when wearing earplugs

1. Use a loud alarm app for heavy sleepers

If you haven’t done that yet, I recommend that you first go through the alarm tones on your phone and see whether you can find a really loud one. In addition to that, set your phone to also vibrate when the alarm goes off.

You could go even as far as placing the phone directly next to your pillow. Personally, I feel somewhat uneasy having the phone close to my head for the whole night, so I would only do that as an emergency measure but not on a regular basis.

If that does not do the trick, try a loud alarm app that caters to heavy sleepers. These apps have boosted alarms.

For iPhone and iPad, the app Alarmy has a good selection of loud and obnoxious alarms. I find Loud Alarm 5 very effective.

Alarmy iPhone and iPad loud alarm

On Android, the app Alarm Clock – THE LOUDEST! by j labs has some great boosted alarms.  For example, try Police Siren or Buzzer.

Loud Alarm Clock jlabs Android

2. Add the vibrating alarm on your smart watch as a backup to your regular alarm

Most smart watches (e.g., Apple Watch, Galaxy Watch) and many fitness trackers (e.g., many Fitbit models) have such a vibration alarm.

If you don’t want a smart watch or fitness tracker, some traditional wrist watches also have a vibration alarm.

(I used the Timex Expedition with vibration alarm in the past. On a non-rechargeable wrist watch like the Timex, expect to change the battery every couple of months to keep the vibration alarm going.)

3. Get an alarm clock with a bed shaker.

For some people, even loud phone alarms and vibrations at the wrist don’t do the trick.

But I doubt you’ll find many people who can sleep through a good shaker underneath their pillow.

Vibrating alarm clocks like the SonicBomb offer a very loud alarm (adjustable, >100 dB at max volume) and an additional vibrating shaker module you can place underneath your mattress or your pillow.

You can choose to have both the alarm and the shaker go off or only the vibration alarm if you don’t want to wake up your partner. (Mind you, the shaker might do it anyway.)

4. Use acoustic foam earplugs or moldable wax/silicone earplugs with a lower NRR


Perhaps you only need to turn down the noise a little bit to help you sleep well through the night.

Compared to standard foam earplugs (NRR 28-33), acoustic foam earplugs have a much lower noise reduction rating.

Mack’s acoustic foam earplugs, for example, have an NRR of 20.

Like other music earplugs, they are specifically designed to evenly reduce noise across the frequency spectrum and allow concert goers enjoy music at a safer volume.

But, unlike most music plugs, which have some kind of stem, these are made of soft foam and comfortable for sleeping.

Please be aware that they block a lot less noise than standard foam so these are definitely not effective enough against heavy traffic or snoring.

On the flip side, they will also isolate you less from sounds you want to hear, including your alarm.

Wax and silicone putty earplugs with noise reduction ratings of 22 to 23 are another option. They may be just right to reduce environmental noise enough for you stay asleep, but not too effective for you to hear your alarm.

5. Rise with a wake-up light alarm or a bright lamp together with an outlet timer

The original alarm clock is the sun, and its morning rise is the most natural cue that it is time to wake up.

If you are using blackout curtains or your room doesn’t get particularly bright in the morning, you might not get that cue.

Wake-up lights simulate the morning sunrise, rousing us gradually by increasing the light intensity over perhaps half an hour.

A bright lamp, automatically switched on via an outlet timer, isn’t quite as natural but perhaps you already have a timer and a good lamp at home.


Good foam earplugs block a lot of noise.

Perhaps you are considering adding a white noise machine to get rid of even more noise and allow you sleep better.

But what about getting up in the morning?

For me, adding a wrist vibration alarm (a couple of minutes later) to my regular alarm works well.

But, some people sleep through their phone alarm, their watch, and a standard alarm clock even when they don’t wear earplugs.

If you need something powerful to wake you up, I recommend getting a loud alarm clock with an additional bed shaker, such as the Sonic Bomb.

If a pleasant alarm usually wakes you up, (but occasionally it doesn’t), set that alarm as your first wake-up call.  For example, use a nice sounding phone alarm or a morning wake-up light.

Then have the shaker and loud annoying alarm go off 20 minutes later as a backup.

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