If you live near a northern latitude and get up at the same time each day (which you should be doing for good sleep hygiene), you might have noticed that there has not been as much light outside your windows when you get up as compared to a month ago. At least until we “fall back” off of daylight savings time in November, the mornings will be darker than usual for a while. For me, this is a double-edged sword.
On the one hand, a darker bedroom means that it is easier to sleep longer and to get good quality (sound, restful) sleep. This is something that I took advantage of one morning over the weekend by catching up on some missed sleep and sleeping in quite late. On the other hand, I cannot always afford to sleep in late and I find that it is more difficult to wake up early when the bedroom has been untouched by the crack of dawn.
So, my recent difficulty waking up early and refreshed with the changing of the seasons has prompted me to (re)apply a bit of modern technology to this biological problem. I had to bust out the sunrise alarm clock.
I had purchased a sunrise alarm clock a few years ago when I found myself with an early start time for work and hour+ commute. Dragging myself out of bed to walk the dog before work had become a challenge, especially on those cold and dark winter mornings. So, I did a bit of research and ordered a Morning Sunrise System Alarm Clock. Why this model? Here are a few of the things that I like about this alarm clock:
- Perhaps the most important difference between this sunrise alarm clock and others is that this model does not have its own integrated light source, but rather a grounded outlet to which you may connect any lamp or light source of your choosing. This feature has many advantages – you can customize the type of light (full spectrum light bulb, therapeutic light box), the placement of the light (bedside lamp, standing lamp across the room), and the aesthetics of the light source (maybe you already have a nice lamp in the bedroom that you love). Personally, I use a full spectrum light bulb in a standing lamp on the other side of the bedroom. The full spectrum bulb mimics natural light and the lamp and alarm clock are too far away from the bed for me to hit the snooze button, so I don’t interfere with the system doing its job.
- This sunrise alarm clock is also very customizable – you can set a different wake up time for each day of the week, you can modify the duration of the sunrise (and sunset for going to bed if you’d like), and you can change a number of the display characteristics such as the way that the time is displayed (AM/PM vs. 24 hour), the screen contrast and lighting, and even the languages that are used in setup!
So, you might have noticed that this alarm clock is not the cheapest one in the store and you might be wondering if it is worth it. For me, the answer is an unequivocal “yes.” Light serves as a zeitgeber, which by definition, helps to set and synchronize our internal circadian clocks with the environment around us. This might be why a slow sunrise leaves me feeling much more awake and alert as compared to being awakened suddenly by a loud noise. Being able to reproduce a slow sunrise at precisely the time I would like to it to occur is definitely worth it as it leaves me pleasantly awake and ready to start each day.