A wake-up light helps maintain a healthy circadian rythm.
November 16, 2017
Your circadian rhythm, also known as your sleep/wake cycle, is typically a 24-hour clock with peaks and valleys, controlling sleepiness and wakefulness throughout the day.
In most people, the biggest drop in energy happens during the night or after lunch, however this can vary depending on your sleeping patterns.
If you're well rested, you likely won't feel the peaks and valleys of your circadian rhythm as strongly.
While the average length of a circadian rhythm is 24.25 hours, every person is slightly different. Typically the circadian rhythm of night owls is slightly longer, while those of the early risers are just under 24 hours.
Melatonin is the extremely light-responsive hormone that regulates your body's sleep and wake cycle.
What many people don't realize is that the production of melatonin is mainly controlled by exposure to light.
And inversely the body's dependance on dark environments at night. Your body regulates melatonin levels producing the least in the morning and peaking at night.
Melatonin is first released in the evening and continues to be produced throughout the night, then decreases as first light hits your eyes, and its production is suppressed.
Light heavily affects how much melatonin your body produces. For example, during the shorter days of the winter months, your body may produce melatonin either earlier or later in the day than usual. This change can lead to symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), or winter depression.
Research into managing light exposure continues to help people who work night shifts, or have irregular sleeping patterns avoid fatigue.
Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, exhibits a sharp peak in concentration in the first hour after waking, and kickstarts your body’s wake-up cycle.
Symptoms like feeling sluggish, drowsy, or disoriented in the morning often point to low morning cortisol.
Studies show that cortisol levels are significantly influenced by light, and exposure to daylight in the morning via a wake-up light support a natural morning cortisol peak.
Over the years, extensive research has been undertaken to determine how light affects the synchronization of circadian rhythms and hormones like cortisol and melatonin.
The light kickstarts your body’s wake-up cycle stopping the secretion of melatonin, and boosts what is known as the cortisol awakening response, helping prepare you for the day’s activities.
A sunrise simulator can help balance your circadian rhythm.
A dawn simulator works when light passes through your eyelids, signals your internal clock and triggers awaking neurons in your brain. The light kickstarts your body’s wake-up cycle stopping the secretion of melatonin, and boosts what is known as the cortisol awakening response, helping prepare you for the day’s activities
The problem with standalone light-alarms on the market today is that they are often bulky, shed light from the screen throughout the night, and don’t emit a lot of light in the morning.
“The purpose of a wake-up light isn’t to actually wake you up; it's to bring you into a lighter phase of sleep.” says with ease inc., the company behind “Sunrise & Shine”, a free app that programs smart lights to act as dawn simulators.
Since the app is built for Homekit, Apple’s home automation framework and platform, people can mix and match smart bulbs from different manufacturers, and use existing light fixtures in their rooms with as many bulbs as they’d like to wake-up to, resulting in more lumens being emitted than other wake-up light alarms.
“When you avoid waking up in the middle of a deep stage of your sleep cycle, it’s easier to get up, leaving you feeling more rested, energetic, and ready to go.” adds the app founder.
The Sunrise & Shine app creates a 30-minute alarm for smart lights that start softly and shifts from a dim red, to orange, then yellow, brightening to a cool white at maximum intensity by the time set.