Sunrise alarm clock FAQs
Is waking up to light good for you?
The light therapy implemented in these wake-up lamps helps regulate cortisol and melatonin production, two important hormones that are essential in controlling sleep/wake cycles.
Regular daily alternation of light and darkness is essential in order to maintain good quality sleep. Sunrise alarm clocks have “wind-down” features that encourage a healthy production of melatonin at night by mimicking a gradual sunset, while the “wake-up” cycles encourage the production of cortisol in the morning by simulating a natural and gradual sunrise that prepares you for wakefulness. The wake-up and wind-down features can be equally important in helping maintain a healthy sleep cycle.
Is a wake-up light alarm clock worth it?
Sunrise alarms are pricey compared to traditional alarm clocks and phone apps. However, if you find yourself groggy most mornings, it might help you wake up more gradually.
Is it better to wake up to sound or light?
This depends on your needs. Sleep-mask wearers may not respond to light cues, while others have trained themselves to ignore the sounds of their alarm.
Many sunrise alarms use both intensifying light and sound. “Whether it’s a gradual sound or light alarm, wake-up lamps can help better prepare the body to wake up more gently with less startle,” Dimitriu said.
Do sunrise alarm clocks work?
Light-based alarms may not work for everyone, said Kelly Waters, MD, a sleep specialist at Spectrum Health. “If someone is sleep deprived or catching up on sleep or a deep sleeper, this may not be sufficient to wake them,” she said.
How does a sunrise alarm clock compare to a traditional alarm?
The key difference is that sunrise alarm clocks use gentle light and sound to help you wake up before resorting to the louder noises that are typical of a standard alarm clock.
“If we train ourselves to wake up suddenly, with a jolt, this can become a problem for any other time we wake up in the night, making it hard to fall back asleep,” said Alex Dimitriu, MD, founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine.
That abrupt wake-up experience can also cause stress levels to suddenly increase, often aggravating long-term issues like chronic anxiety. W. Chris Winter, MD, of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine, also advises waking up gently because sudden awakenings can cause sudden blood pressure surges, possibly leading to heart issues.
What is sleep inertia?
Sleep inertia is that drowsy feeling that occurs after you wake up. It makes it very difficult for some people to get out of bed and often puts people in a bad mood for the rest of their day.
“Gradual alarms (sound or light) are excellent solutions to wake people gradually,” said Dimitriu, since these softer alarms offer a gentler, more natural wake-up experience.
What features should I look for when choosing a sunrise alarm clock?
If you’re a heavy sleeper, you might need a sunrise alarm clock that has bright lights to effectively wake you up in the morning. You may also want one with sound.
Most sunrise alarm clocks have several sound options, but others (like the Casper Glow Light) lack this feature completely.
You’ll want to ensure the alarm settings work for you, too. Can you set multiple alarms? How long is the snooze? Look for features you’d find in a traditional alarm clock.