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Better Sleep With a Wake-Up Light

Updated on April 2, 2017
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I have been struggling with sleep issues since our babies were born. I hope some of these ideas help you!

What Is a Wake-Up Light?

This cool gadget is essentially a sunrise alarm clock. It wakes you up gently, gradually, and naturally by mimicking the effect of a sunrise. It might be dark and cold outside when you have to wake up for school or work, but your brain will perceive the natural experience of a rising sun. Since our bodies are finely tuned to a pattern of rest and wakefulness called the circadian rhythm, the sunrise clock is the most natural and effortless way to wake up, get out of bed, and get to work or school on time.

Wake Up and Get Up Naturally

Our bodies are programmed, through millions of years of evolution, to sync with the natural rhythms of sunrise and sunset. Unfortunately, with the relatively recent advent of modern conveniences like electric lights, that natural rhythm has been lost. Now it's daylight for as long as we want it to be, with a simple switch-flip; many of us have to get up for work before the sunrise, and often stay up well past sunset, working on blue-light devices that further confuse our finely-tuned coordination with the sun. A Wake-Up Light with sunrise simulation is just one way to try to regain the natural rhythm that modern life has taken from us.

My Insomnia Story

Ever since my first-born came home from the hospital, I have struggled with insomnia. Having to be on call 24-7 disrupted my usual sound sleep habits. I love my kids like any other parent, but it's true that the arrival of a newborn means the departure of normal sleep patterns.

According to a University of Michigan study, A Preliminary Study of New Parents, Sleep Disruption, and Driving: A Population at Risk?, there is a link between having a baby in the house, loss of sleep, and subsequent car accidents. Clearly, I'm not the only one who felt the effects of sleeplessness. Ever since then, and it has been decades, I have fought to fall asleep, and then stay asleep. I have found several techniques and gadgets that really help me, and maybe they'll help you too—check out my other articles on the topic of insomnia to see if you get any ideas.

Falling asleep is on my mind a lot, but waking up is no picnic, either. Especially if you suffer from a sleep disorder like insomnia, waking up can be agonizingly difficult. Fortunately there are techniques and gadgets to help you get out of bed in the morning. The benefits you will get from these gadgets are important—easier wakings, better mornings, and sharper awareness at work.

Protect Your Right to a Good Night's Sleep

Over the years, I have developed some very specific techniques and rules for going to sleep and waking up. These include particular lighting, a white noise machine, blue screens (TV or computer), and relaxation practices. At times my family gets a little impatient with my nighttime demands, but over the years I have stuck to my guns and insisted on my right to be picky at bedtime. For me, the alternative is insomnia, crankiness, blurry work days, and general misery. If I can avoid the terrible feeling of not having slept with a few bedtime rules, then that's what I'm going to do. I make no apologies for it!

Why Sleeping Well Matters

It's not just feeling lousy after a sleepless night that we have to worry about. Insomnia has very real, and very serious, consequences for almost every part of your life.

Sleep and Your Health

Insomnia puts you at risk for all kinds of unpleasant health issues, including obesity from overeating, depression and anxiety disorders, and impaired intellectual performance. On top of that, losing sleep is implicated in increased risk for car accidents, as well as in major disasters like the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

But sleep is connected to all kinds of other, less-obvious parts of your life. You might not realize it, but the amount of sleep you get can be reflected in the salary you earn, since job performance and sick days are directly related to sleeping. Not only money but love can also hinge on the amount of sleep a person gets -- studies have linked sleep health to relationship stability in both friends and family.

On an even more serious note, the condition called "sleep apnea" is a potentially life-threatening pathology in which a person actually stops breathing several times during the night. In severe cases, this disorder can tax the heart to the point that heart disease and even death can result. It really seems like there's no one single factor influencing our overall well-being than the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.

To Paraphrase Neil Sedaka: Waking Up Is Hard To Do

Waking up and getting out bed is a challenge for many of us. For me, it was worse when the baby had kept me up all night, but then even after they were grown up I was still finding it hard to sleep, and even harder to get up. I could WAKE up fine, but my body wouldn't go along with the whole feet-on-the-floor thing. I developed a bad habit of going in pate to work, or as late as I could get away with. That was stressful and childish, but I did it anyway. Somehow that extra 15 minutes of sleep felt worth it, even when I was sneaking in the side door, pretending I'd been there for an hour already. Studies support this -- an Ohio Sleep Medicine Institute's report on the way circadian rhythms affect sleep and performance makes it clear that following the natural cycle of sunrise and sunset is the healthiest option: "Your body runs on a 24-hour schedule during which exposure to light and darkness affects your internal clock within the brain, a master pacemaker that regulates your circadian (24-hour) rhythms."

Get to Work or School on Time

Students and working stiffs alike know how hard getting out of bed can be, especially in winter when the days are short and we often have to get up when it's still pitch black outside. The sunrise simulation clock takes care of both the light and the timing for you.

Get out of bed easier

It's hard enough, dealing with work hours in a midwestern winter -- trust me, I know. This little clock makes it a whole lot easier. I used to lie in bed until the last possible second, knowing that I was probably going to be late again!

Your Own Personal Sunrise

I like this sunrise clock radio because it wakes me up naturally. It does this in two ways, each one important for maintaining the healthy circadian rhythm of wakefulness and sleep:

Gradual Brightness Increase. I love this feature because it brings up the light in your room at the exact same speed as an actual sunrise. Even though it may still be dark outside, you still experience the benefits of waking up naturally to a warm, rising sun. Since I have to get up before light throughout the winter, this is a beautiful idea for someone with my work schedule. The gradual sunrise effect is truly a brilliant idea (pun absolutely intended).

Sunshine Light Spectrum. This technological advance means that the light you experience not only comes up at the pace of an actual sunrise, it also has the precise spectrum of sunlight. Your personal sunrise is complete, and you're more likely to get out of bed and into work (or school) on time for once.

Thank You and Good Night!

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