4 ways to keep from sleeping through your Android alarm

You'd be surprised how easy it is to accidentally silence a pending Android alarm—or snooze right through it, for that matter.

4 ways to keep from sleeping through your Android alarm
Ben Patterson

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I like to think of myself as a reasonably punctual, conscientious  guy who shows up when he says he’s going to show up. So imagine my embarrassment when I dozed right through my Android alarm on a recent morning, missing an early meeting and earning a reproachful glare from my hungry 4-year-old.

What happened? I did, after all, have my Android Clock app set to wake me at 6:30 a.m., and it’s not like I didn’t hear the buzzer; it simply never went off.

As it turns out, there are plenty of reasons why an Android alarm might fail to buzz. Maybe your Do Not Disturb rules are to blame, or perhaps you’re being a tad too aggressive with Total silence mode. And even if your Android alarm does buzz, you might have the volume set too low, or maybe it’s just too easy to hit the snooze button.

Check your Do Not Disturb rule settings

As you may already know, Android’s Do Not Disturb mode lets you set “rules” that turn on your quiet times automatically—and if you’re not careful, your Do Not Disturb rules may override any alarms you’ve set.

Check your Do Not Disturb rule settings Ben Patterson

The “Alarm can override end time” setting ensures that your silent period will end before your next alarm goes off.

For example, I had a Do Not Disturb rule that set my Android device to Total silence mode from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. When I tried setting an alarm for 6:30 a.m, the alarm never went off, and I slept like a baby right through a meeting.

Now, if you tap the Do Not Disturb button in Quick Settings to manually switch your device to Total silence mode, you’ll get a warning if you’re about to silence an alarm.

But Android will let you set an alarm during an upcoming Total silence period without complaint, so be mindful of any Do Not Disturb rules that might conflict with your alarms.

And if you must use Total silence mode for your Do Not Disturb rules, consider enabling the Alarm can override end time setting, which ensures that your silent period will end before your next alarm goes off.

Bonus tip: The alarm icon in the top-right corner of your Android screen will appear grayed out if your device is in Total silence mode. Confusingly, though, the alarm icon will appear active even if your alarm is set to go off during an upcoming Total silence period.

Don’t use 'Total silence' mode unless you absolutely have to

As a relative newcomer to Android (I’ve been testing Android phones for years, but I only recently started using an Android handset as my primary mobile device), my first inclination for Do Not Disturb mode was the Total silence option. I liked how it muzzled absolutely every sound and vibration, from Gmail alerts to key taps, and Total silence quickly became my favorite way of keeping my phone quiet at night.

Don’t use Ben Patterson

Unless you absolutely, positively need total silence, consider another Do Not Disturb option, such as “Alarms only” mode.

Well, it turns out that was a bad idea, as I learned after sleeping through that aforementioned alarm. Indeed, unless you’re at the movies, paying respects at a funeral, or otherwise determined not to make a sound, Total silence mode is generally a bad idea, particularly when it comes to alarms.

A smart alternative is the Alarms only option, which (as you can probably guess) silences all sounds and vibrations on your device except for alarms.

With the right customizations, Priority mode is also a smart choice, since you can set it to silence everything except alarms as well as calls and messages from your closets contacts.

Check your alarm volume

Just because you cranked up the volume on your Android phone doesn’t mean your alarm volume will be particularly loud.

Check your alarm volume Ben Patterson

There are actually three volume sliders on your Android device; the alarm volume is at the bottom.

In fact, Android has three separate volume levels: one for ringers, another for media (like music and videos), and a third for alarms. Generally speaking, the volume rocker on your handset only controls the ringer volume.

If you want to boost your alarm volume, you’ll need to tap the little down arrow that appears at the top of the screen when you tap the volume buttons; when you do, you’ll reveal the three specific volume sliders, including the alarm volume. Go ahead and slide it up to 11.

Bonus tip: If you’re worried about waking a loved one with your alarm tone, there’s a setting that’ll give you a chance to silence your alarm before it reaches full volume. Open the Clock app, tap the three-dot menu button in the top-right corner of the screen, tap Setting > Gradually increase volume (under the Alarms heading), then pick a setting—anything from five seconds to a full minute.

Make it harder to snooze the alarm

When your Android alarm starts blaring at the crack of dawn, it’s easy to keep your eyes closed, reach over and silence your alarm with a click of a volume button—maybe too easy, actually.

If you wish, you can enable a setting that makes it tougher to snooze your alarm while you’re half-asleep.

Make it harder to snooze the alarm Ben Patterson

Here’s a setting that makes it a little tougher to snooze your alarm while you’re half-asleep.  

Open the Clock app, tap the three-dot menu button, tap Settings > Volume buttons, then pick an option besides Dismiss. For instance, Snooze might work if you trust yourself to only snooze your alarm a couple of times. If you’re a chronic alarm snoozer, though, try the Do nothing setting, which forces you to open your eyes and nudge the big touchscreen dot in the right direction.

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