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Will a wake-up light work?

Ask anyone who knows me, I am not a morning person. I’m grumpy, I don’t want to talk to anyone, and I’m mostly dysfunctional. At the same time, I like going into work early. I get lots done once I’m up and going and it saves my evening for all my different activities. So when a deal on a wake up light came through my email I was curious. Basically you set the time of the alarm on the light and somewhere between an hour to half an hour before that time the light will simulate a sunrise (it sure sounds happy). Then at the alarm time, a traditional alarm will go off.

The price however is still not worthy of a purchase without the details; I want to know what the likelihood is that it will work.

In looking at the available research I was surprised how much of the research focuses on winter time and different conditions like Alzheimers. Surely there must be others who can’t wake up in the middle of summer? I suppose, the idea is that in the summer there is more daylight, so a person could do this naturally by leaving the curtains open somewhat, but 1) it’s my bedroom, I don’t want my curtains open, and 2) having the curtains open in the morning would mean they were open at night when it is also light out.

Okay, so with a significantly limited base of research I have found

In one study, subjective sleep quality improved after six days of using a dawn simulator.

A study of children and adolescents also revealed an effect – students woke up earlier, felt more alert when they woke up, got up easier, and reported a higher level of alertness during the second lesson at school. Individuals who were classified as evening types showed greater improvement than morning types.

Cortisol levels were correlated with alertness – higher alertness matched with higher cortisol levels in another study. Both of which were increased by the dawn simulator.

Okay, so it is just three studies but it might be enough to convince me that this is worth a try. I will write a future post about its success if I decide to get the light.

About Tai Munro

I am passionate about making science, sustainability, and sport accessible through engaging information and activities.



  1. Pingback: The wake up light works for me | Connecting with Science - February 28, 2017

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