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Cochlear Implant Users and Alarm Clocks

Updated on December 15, 2010

I was reading a forum post by a member on hearingjourney. He posed a really great question that compelled me to write about it and see if I can answer his question with variety of options.

I hope it has helped him, because I really enjoyed writing this. I've noticed that my cochlear implant articles are getting many organic traffic because people are really curious about this! So, here I go again! This one is for you, bionicmusician.

A lot of people don’t think about how cochlear implanted individuals function independently. For that matter, how do they wake up? For many, having a cochlear implant doesn’t necessarily mean they fall asleep with it on especially at night. So, with that in mind, the question is “What is the right clock for the hearing impaired or cochlear implanted person?”

Think About It

There’s three things to consider here.

  1. There are varying degrees of hearing loss. One person could be completely deaf without their cochlear implant, another could have a bit of residential hearing left without it. I fall into the first category.
  2. Any pressure on the external device where the magnet connects to the metal can knock it out. Laying with this on can put that device at risk, or generally just knock it out.
  3. The device needs rest as much as you do. Batteries must charge or be replaced during this time.

That means the individual getting a clock really has to consider their options.  Maybe get super creative and find something totally unique to their needs that wouldn’t work for anyone else.  In picking one out, you have to identify what you or the cochlear implanted individual respond to other than sound.  Even the person that has some hearing left when they are not wearing their cochlear implant may respond better to something different than an alarm clock that has sound only.

Types of Stimulations

The two main stimulation that hearing impaired people respond to are:

  1. Vibrations.  I personally respond better to vibrations.  Hearing impaired people are keenly attuned to even the slightest vibrations than the hearing people.  Vibrations tend to startle us so much more than anything else and can quite easily wake us up.
  2. Light/Visual Motion.  We are highly sensitive to anything visual, if we haven’t also lost our sense of sight.  Imperceptible motion or peripheral view is often quickly noticed easily much more than our hearing counterparts can catch.  In this case, with clocks, we are sensitive to change of light so anything flashing would bear down on our lids and wake us up.

So, that gives us a better idea of what to look for.  I’m going to start with what I personally have experienced and what I prefer, and then share other options that I have found thus far.

Switch Light.

Having someone else be your clock can work, especially for children. The only drawback to this is with adults. Adults tend not to want to have that sort of dependence upon another adult. In this case, I’m going to focus on young children.

My experience has been that when I was completely hearing impaired (no cochlear implant until I was 16), my grandmother would turn on the light and I’d instantly wake up. She used to get very frustrated trying to wake me up. She finally figured out a trigger, which was switching the room light on. I was so particularly sensitive to this that I would wake up very fast and couldn’t go back to sleep.

In my later teenage years, I inadvertently trained myself to sleep through light. However, I still wake up when lights get switched on, but could adjust and go back to sleep fairly quick. If the light got switched off, I’d wake up again. It’s a change in lighting that still woke me up. That’s what my grandmother ended up doing, as well, was switching it on and off until I’d growl in frustration and throw myself out of bed.

This is exactly what my clock is and what it looks like.
This is exactly what my clock is and what it looks like.

Vibrating Clocks

This is what I rely on.  Vibration clocks can vary in their strength.  They have different ways of being located, as well.

There can be an alarm attached to a pad that goes under the bed and shakes your mattress. You can have an alarm attached to your arm or clipped to your shirt which would vibrate and shake you awake. There are many portable ones, which make sense as you wouldn’t want to disturb other travelers with sound or flashing lights.

My personal clock is the Reizen brand.  It is similar to both the Sonic Boom and Wake Assure, which sits on my nightstand and the pad is put under the mattress while being plugged into the alarm. It has two alarm settings; noise or vibrations. Others have all three options. Wireless vibrating alarm clock! Wireless vibrating alarm clock!
Not quite what I imagined, but this would be perfect for a teenage girl with cochlear implant!
Not quite what I imagined, but this would be perfect for a teenage girl with cochlear implant!

Flashing Alarm Clocks

I have no experience with flashing clocks.  I can see the logic with this, however, which is what I want implemented in my own home eventually.  

Many hearing impaired people have a lot of visual signals placed throughout their home.  If someone rings the doorbell, there are several flashing lights put throughout the home that signals the resident visually that someone is at the door.  The phone lights can signal to calls.  There are also flashing alarms for burglary and more.  So, it makes sense to be attuned to flashing alarm clock.  

I would pick flashing alarms if I responded better to light flashing at me than vibrations.  My alarm has a very low pulsating flash that shows up in my snooze button so that I can find it and smack at it.  That’s as far as I have experienced with visual clocks.

So, What To Pick?

Well, so far, I hope you have identified what your situation is and what you respond to as far as stimulation.  It is best to browse a lot of search engines with key words such as cochlear implant, alarm clocks, vibrating alarm clock, alarm clocks for the hearing impaired, wireless alarm clock, and many, many variations of that.  There is a wealth of information out there and below I have provided more!


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    • Sunny Robinson profile imageAUTHOR

      Sunny Robinson 

      11 years ago from Tennessee

      Aww, SG, thank you hun! Yeah, having this have totally changed my life. I am looking into having my other ear implanted. So far, right now, I am only hearing out of one ear. The other ear is completely dead. So, what are the odds, huh? Taking a risk is worth it to me.

    • schoolgirlforreal profile image


      11 years ago

      Very interesting. I have a friend who is blind in one eye from surgery gone wrong, who uses a computer with tons of zoom, though one person I met who is completely blind uses a talking device.

      I didn't know these implants existed for hearing- I guess you could call it a blessing :) I'm glad for you that you have this device and you are such a beautiful person!

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Well, she just opened her first office this spring and has a fairly flexible schedule, but relayed she is very adept at hitting the snooze. LOL g'nite now, I will let you know.

    • Sunny Robinson profile imageAUTHOR

      Sunny Robinson 

      11 years ago from Tennessee

      Thanks, ralwus! I'm interested in what she has to say. I bet she has an interesting schedule to adhere to, too, so that would definitely mean needing the alarm clock that works specifically to her needs.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      I'm back and signed in. I will ask my friend how she does it. She is a Dentist, lives with her one eyed dog Cammie across the way from me. Keep writing now. CC

    • Sunny Robinson profile imageAUTHOR

      Sunny Robinson 

      11 years ago from Tennessee

      tonymac04, thank you for enjoying my hub. :)

      WryLilt, I enjoyed broaching the topic. You know what they say -- write what you know, and it seems like hearing impairment is my niche. I hope that works out in the long run. I'm glad you enjoyed this piece.

      ralwus, glad to inform! It'd be interesting to get a graph on what hearing impaired people use to wake up to. It can be either extremely hard or extremely easy to wake us up, just like hearing folks. Depends on the sensitivity. Glad you enjoyed. :)

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Most interesting. I have a neighbor who is hearing impaired. . . I wonder now. Thanks so much for this. CC

    • WryLilt profile image

      Susannah Birch 

      11 years ago from Toowoomba, Australia

      Interesting topic - I'd never really considered how people who didn't have perfect hearing woke up. Thanks for the hub.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      11 years ago from South Africa

      Very interesting Hub. Thanks for all the info.

      Love and peace


    • Sunny Robinson profile imageAUTHOR

      Sunny Robinson 

      11 years ago from Tennessee

      Haha, sorry. Well your bedroom is right next to mine! :P It's like an earthquake, isn't it? I love it.

    • SognoPiccolo profile image


      11 years ago from Wilmington, Ohio

      The vibrating alarm clock you use is super effective. For someone who is not hearing impaired that sucker woke me right up one morning when it went off. lol about scared me half to death. lol


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