All you need is a light—a light alarm clock, that is.
Waking up refreshed and restored every single day may seems like the stuff of fantasy, especially if you're not exactly a morning person and it's still pitch black outside. Our bodies are programmed to be awake when the sun is shining and asleep when it's dark out. A lack of sunlight means our bodies produce more melatonin, the hormone that makes you sleepy.
But investing in a light alarm clock—also known as a sunrise alarm clock or a wake up light—can help. These clocks are designed to mimic morning dawn, filling your room with a gradual sunny glow. As light gradually enters through eyelids, your cortisol production increases, which helps you wake up more naturally than the blare of a traditional alarm.
“Light alarms can be helpful for those who aren't morning people," says Nitun Verma MD, a spokesperson for The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Physician for Crossover Health. "Bright light in the morning advances our circadian rhythms. It means we wake up more alert and fall asleep at night more easily.”
The light power on these light alarm clocks ranges from around 100 lux to 300 lux, but how bright you go boils down to personal preference. The higher-lux models typically offer the ability to adjust the brightness level to your own specifications. Another factor to consider is the period during which the wake-up light will flood your room with "sun." They usually range from 10 to 30 minutes. Dr. Verma notes that to really adjust your circadian rhythms, you need to expose yourself to at least 30 minutes of light, so you'll want a clock that shines for no less than a half hour. Finally, choose a wake-up light that offers a back-up alarm, even the lightest sleepers may need it once in a while.
Waking up with the sun (real or artificial) is only the first step to really improving how you feel when you get out of bed. Nancy H. Rothstein, MBA, director of CIRCADIAN Corporate Sleep Programs, advises taking a look at your existing habits and bedtime patterns to get the most out of your new device. The first step is getting out of bed as soon as your alarm goes off—and don’t hit the snooze button. It’s just wasted sleep. Make it a point to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day—even on weekends. This will help your body get into a circadian rhythm that works for your lifestyle.
That said, here are the best light alarm clocks out there. They offer a variety of brightness settings, color changes, and nature sounds to make waking up a more relaxing, stress-free experience.
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