In just a few more weeks, we ‘spring ahead’ an hour and resume daylight saving time on Sunday, March 13th. The time change means longer daylight hours for evenings as our days get longer, but it also means that sunrise will suddenly be one hour later.
By the time early March arrives before the shift to daylight savings time, sunrise will be around 6:30 am. When the time change occurs, sunrise will spring forward to around 7:30 am. For some that are not morning people, this time change will be a struggle – managing to get out of bed in time to go to work or get school aged children off to school on time.
There is a device available to help those who hate noisy abrupt alarm clocks and have a tough time getting out of bed to start the day. The device is called a sunrise alarm clock. These devices have been around for years, but are growing in popularity.
Those who have them praise them. Matt Wing is one of those who notes the sunrise alarm clock has made rising from bed much easier. He switched from using his phone’s alarm feature to a Philips SmartSleep Sleep & Wake-Up light that simulates sunrise over a 30-minute period and plays birds tweeting when the light reaches its brightest. “Before, it would be like, I hear this big noise and I’m like – Whoa, what’s happening?,” said Wing, who usually rises at 6:00 am. “Now, it’s a lot easier to just motivate myself to actually get out from under the covers.”
Sunrise alarm clocks combine a digital alarm with an artificial light source that mimics natural morning light or dawn. There are a variety of these devices available. Some simulate natural light cycles such as dawn and dusk, gradually changing wavelengths and intensity of light over time. Others simulate a bright sunny morning with a sudden bright light, similar to opening the curtains on a sunny morning.
The cost of these sunrise alarm clocks range from about $25 to over $100, depending on the features offered, and are available at selected retailers and online.
David Neubauer, a sleep expert and associate professor at Johns Hopkins University notes, “These dawn simulators can enhance the wake-up experience. The big picture is that our circadian system is very sensitive to light.”
Phyllis Zee, chief of sleep medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine highlights, “There’s really substantial research on the science of light, the wavelengths of light and how it affects our brain and our circadian rhythms. In particular, that dawn signal, that morning light, is very important for healthy circadian rhythms.” Zee added, “Light is the body’s most powerful time-giver. When the eyes sense light, that information goes directly to a cluster of neurons in the brain known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus, or ‘the master circadian clock’.”
Sleep authorities also add that is it important where you place your sunrise clock. It should be placed in a position to hit your eyes in the room, but be kept out of arm’s reach to enhance motivation out of bed. A sunrise alarm clock can help create a regular rhythm of light exposure, and in turn lead to more consistent wake and sleep times. Zee added, “That regularity is great for your circadian rhythms and for overall sleep quality.”
So if you are looking for help with the annual changes from Standard Time to Daylight Saving Time or vice-versa, or simply another means to rise from bed in a more natural manner, consider a sunrise alarm clock. This device could change your life and you will sleep better knowing that.