Rise and (Sun)shine!

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BE—

Ugh, that sound alone gives me goosebumps. There is nothing worse than the dreaded alarm. Is anyone else sent into a state of panic when they hear their alarm go off as someone else’s ringtone? Sheer. Terror.

Think about your perfect night of sleep. It usually involves everything but one thing: an alarm clock. There is nothing better than gradually waking up on a Saturday morning to the birds chirping and the sun piercing through the curtains. If only they could harness this primal routine and market it as the new alarm clock…

Oh, wait. They have!

The natural and gentle way to wake each morning with the “rising sun” is possible. But first, let’s talk about why proper sleep is so important:

There are five stages of sleep that we cycle through throughout the night. Depending on how well you are sleeping, plus how long you have been asleep, your alarm clock might go off during a stage of deep sleep. This is not good. Nature did not intend for us to wake during this stage, which is why our bodies recoil when the dreaded alarm clock sounds.

Waking abruptly from a deep sleep leaves you feeling groggy, disoriented, irritated, and extremely stressed. Such feelings linger into your morning routine and sometimes last your entire day, only to repeat again the next morning. The sudden jolt to wake triggers the body’s “fight or flight” response, pumping the body with adrenaline. Activating such adrenaline levels over days, weeks, months, YEARS, will lead to chronic stress. People routinely forced to wake during their deep sleep cycle develop severe medical conditions over time, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, loss of memory, and diabetes. Oh, and it shortens your overall life expectancy.

Sleep is considered to be as important as maintaining a healthy diet. The most natural way to welcome the day is to rise with the sun (usually before 6:00A.M.) It is not always feasible to rise with the natural sun, especially during the darker months of the year. Unless you have a boss who practices Ayurveda and totally jives with you coming into work whenever your bedroom fills with natural light, waiting on the natural sun will most definitely cost you your job.

The good news is there is a way to use your eyes’ natural response to light to simulate a sunrise. Using a wake-up light, your body is gradually pulled from deep sleep as your bedroom is filled with increasing light. And no, you will not oversleep!

My wake-up light is the Philips HF3520 model, which creates synthetic sunshine to ease you awake. The light mimics a real sunrise, starting with dark red light, turning to yellow, then ending with white light. Once you set the alarm, the light will begin roughly 40 minutes before the time you have set, ending in full light and accompanied by one of five different nature sounds. An added bonus, the sunset simulation feature works in reverse, dimming the light over a period of time to coax your body to sleep at night.

I urge you all to consider a wake-up light, if not this exact model. I cannot recommend a product more highly (…except for maybe blue light glasses!)