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Wake up lights: Trying not to wake up like an ogre!

I’m going to break away from writing about Denali for a little bit and give you my first impressions of a new little gadget I picked up recently: the Philips HF 3471 Wake Up Light. Being mostly a night owl, I really hate waking up in the morning. Probably like a lot of you out there, when my alarm goes off in the morning for school or work, I really struggle to pull myself out of bed. After a couple “snoozes”, grunting and groaning I finally manage to get up and start my day. The problem is, I’m still exhausted as the sudden shock from the alarm jarred my mind and body so I never seem to fully recover all morning. A wake up light is supposed to solve all this, so I finally decided to pick one up, despite the high price- for essentially what is an alarm clock attached to a light bulb. I’ve been using it for the past week and a half and so far, it’s actually been pretty good.

While there are many different model of wake up lights out there that claim to do a lot of different things (blue LEDs to raise energy levels?), mine is pretty basic. 30 minutes before my alarm time, the lamp gradually starts to brighten the room, thereby reaching maximum brightness (adjustable) right at my wake up time. The idea is to gradually and gently prepare the body to wake up using the light instead of a sudden and jarring buzzer. If you don’t wake up from the light alone, as a sort of last ditch effort, wake up sounds (radio or nature sounds) will turn on 90 seconds before the alarm time, much like a normal alarm clock. The idea really is to wake up due to the light but, having the sound option as a backup (if you’re particularly out cold) is good to have.

How has it worked out for me? Every morning except for the first, I opened my eyes naturally and saw the light, signalling it was time to get up. Most of the time it has been within the last 10-15 minutes before my scheduled wake up time. Because I’m being woken up by light instead of sound, I actually feel a bit better when waking up. I don’t feel completely refreshed, (although that might be because I’m only sleeping about 6 hours/day instead of the 8 I need) but it still is easier to pull myself out of bed. Plus, if I wake up say 15 min early, I sometimes let myself fall back asleep and naturally wake back up 5 min later as the light gets evener brighter in my face. It’s kind of like when your mom used to wake you up as a kid by turning the lights on in your room.

What’s the verdict? I’d give it a soft recommendation. It seems to work well as a “light” based alarm clock and I do feel a bit better on wake up but it’s terribly expensive for what it is. Mine normally retails for $100 and I got it for $60 on sale. At either price it seems high, but at the same time, feeling better in the morning might be worth it at any price. Plus, the lamp will likely last a long time so in the long run it probably isn’t so bad. So, I’d say if you’re curious and have the money available, I’d give it a shot. Just don’t starve yourself for a week so you can have it.

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