Do you sleep through your alarms? Or find any excuse to sleep in, begging yourself for more precious sleep? You’re not alone. But there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Research into helping people avoid fatigue in mornings is leading more people to consider how to better manage their exposure to light.
Increasingly popular wake-up light alarms mimic a sunrise, aiming to help wake you up in the morning. But can they really make getting up easier? Sleep therapy science says yes. Over the years, extensive research has been undertaken to determine how light affects the synchronization of circadian rhythms and hormones like cortisol and melatonin. Numerous studies have found that artificial dawns affect hormones, moods, heart rates, and circadian rhythms, and can heavily influence how you feel when you wake up.
''It seems clear that light is the most important environmental input, after food, in controlling bodily function.'' says Richard J. Wurtman, a nutritionist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Even when your eyes are closed, light affects you. 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.
While you’ll need to own smart lights, which can be an expensive proposition on their own, and an Apple home hub, for some people the promise of better mornings makes it all worthwhile.