Slamming the snooze button over and over again is pretty much the crummiest, least restful way to kick off your morning, so consider this a public service announcement: A light-up alarm completely changed my life, and I think it can change yours, too.
The light alarm concept itself isn’t new. Folks have been waking up with the sun for millennia, and experimenting with tactics to control timed illumination since the 18th century. Now there are quite a few models on the market (that don’t make use flint-locks and candles , awesome as they may be), but I was sceptical. I didn’t believe that one of these plug-in contraptions — specifically this Philips HF3500/60 Wake-Up Light — would be any more effective than my iPhone combo of vibration-and-iTunes alone.
Because I am a really, really heavy sleeper. Whether it’s a ten minute nap or a solid eight hours at night, I never set less than four alarms — though I often go up to 11 — to sound off within one stupid minute of each other. Yes, this is completely ridiculous; but once I drift off, I’m out. Mornings are, unsurprisingly, the worst.
Dramatization of me in the morning
Me in the morning IRL (shameful third screen not shown)
Transitioning to consciousness blows. Committing to facing the day is tough, but the most difficult part of the process just might be reaching over to flip on the lamp next to the bed. It’s just so… harsh. I’m sitting here getting physically anxious just thinking about it.
I decided to give this thing a shot because, well, it couldn’t possibly be any worse than my regular routine.
For the uninitiated, here’s how it works: You set when you want to get up, and the Wake-Up light starts beeping at that time — softly at first, then louder after a minute and a half. All pretty standard Digital Clock 101 so far. BUT! A half-hour before that, a simulated sunrise has already started, transitioning from a dim glow to 200 lux at full brightness (think gentle bedside lamp). By the time the sound kicks in, voila: Your room is all lit up like it’s early afternoon on a weekend. And a room all lit up like it’s early afternoon on the weekend is scientifically proven* to be the the best way to wake up. (*probably)
It felt funny the first night trusting this non-iDevice. In fact, I set my regular gauntlet of phone alarms to start up a few minutes after the Philips was scheduled to beep, just in case. The crazy thing was when the time came, I didn’t need any sound at all. NONE. I was just… awake. It was dark outside and light in my room and my eyes just slowly opened and I kind of laid there like: “Wow.” Because holy hell. HOLY HELL. H O L Y H E L L . That has never, ever happened before. And it wasn’t just some weird fluke.
I’ve been using it for a few months now and it’s still like: “Wow.” I’m not always up before the beeps, but once they get going I’m ready to get going (albeit a bit slowly sometimes). I never use a snooze because I don’t need one anymore. It’s nothing short of incredible. (I still set my iPhone but that is only because I am wildly paranoid that I will revert to my old ways but I have yet to need it.)
Is this the coolest-looking design object in the world? Nope. But it’s an inconspicuous, milky white disc that I feel a very genuine affection for, because it has quite literally changed the way I live my life. The only caveat is that it’s got to be pretty dark for the illuminated part of this thing to have any effect, so naps, when I can sneak ’em in, are still a struggle to edge out of. No matter — this baby has already brightened the darkest corners of my dim, drowsy heart. [Philips, $US60 at Amazon]