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When Waking Up Is Hard To Do – A Sunrise Alarm Clock Can Help

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The Magic of Light

Once I realized that mornings were the only time I could squirrel away a few moments to reset and recharge, I ran straight into a big problem. I was a chronic over-sleeper. We’re talking hitting the snooze button ten times, skipping a shower to sleep longer, and sometimes just turning off my alarm while half asleep and dozing off. Needless to say, I was late—a lot.

The “simple advice” I was given time and time again was to “just wake up earlier”. Oh, okay! I’ve never tried that before! Grrrr.  Actually, I tried it all the time and constantly failed at it, thank you very much. While it was tempting just to throw up my hands and accept that I wasn’t a morning person, I was determined to find time for a morning routine, so I refused give up. 

I started researching the subject and found out that humans don’t really like to wake up to buzzing and beeping alarms. And long before technology invaded every corner of our lives, people had another kind of alarm clock: dawn. Very low tech…also very effective. And following this rabbit hole (circadian rhythms – more on this later!) led me to the idea of a sunrise alarm clock. 

One day later (thank you, Amazon!) I was unboxing my new Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light, and I have never looked back.  I’m not exaggerating when I say it has changed my life. I never need to hit snooze now, and I rarely wake up cranky anymore. 

Why I Love It

It’s a gentler way to wake up. Imagine waking up not to the blaring sound of an alarm, but to a gentle sunrise right in your bedroom. SmartSleep does just that. It starts with a soft, red-tinted glow, gradually intensifying into a bright, cheerful light. It’s like Mother Nature herself is nudging you awake. I set mine to 20 minutes, and by the time it’s at full brightness, I’m just sort of magically awake. I never remember waking up. It’s weird, but amazing. 

It has nature sounds, if you’re into that. Besides the sunrise simulation, this little gem offers a variety of soothing alarm tones – think birds chirping and soft piano music. But honestly, the light is so effective I barely use the sounds. There’s also a snooze function, which I still sometimes use on chilly mornings. 

It helps you sleep, too. Not only does this wonder device wake you up, but it also helps you wind down. The sunset function is like a reverse sunrise, dimming slowly to lull you into slumber. I find it perfect for bedtime meditation sessions or just for creating a serene atmosphere to drift off. It also says it functions as a reading lamp, but personally, I don’t find the light bright enough for that. 

It’s dumb as a rock. And that’s a good thing! Despite the name, there’s no “smart” functionality here. I like to be as tech-free as possible an hour before bed, so not having to open my phone to set an alarm is a big bonus for me. They do have an app-connected version, but it’s hilariously ugly. If you must have smart functionality, I recommend the Hatch instead. 

It’s a lifesaver in the winter. For several months of the year, I have to get up an hour or more before the real sun. Instead of fumbling in the dark to turn on a lamp and squinting until my eyes adjust, my room is already bathed in a soft, warm glow. 

Why I Don’t

It’s a nightstand hog. The footprint here is a bit bulky. I keep a lot of stuff on my nightstand, and I’m bummed that the SmartSleep eats into that real estate. 

Invisible Buttons…Why? To make this baby sleek and minimalist, the buttons used to set the alarm are on the front of the clock and completely flush to the machine. This makes it a little awkward to set an alarm without picking up the whole machine, though you get used to it after a while. 

It’s a little spaceship-y. Some people love the design, but to me, it looks a bit like something designed for the Star Trek set. The first generation. 

It’s a dictator. If you sleep with someone who wants to sleep later than you, they may need to wear an eye mask to do it. It’s such a gentle wake-up, though…sometimes my partner doesn’t even realize he should be mad until he looks at the clock. Sorry, not sorry?

It’s not portable. Once you get used to waking up with a sunrise alarm clock, it’s very hard to go back to a regular alarm. If you travel a lot or sleep away from home regularly, it’s tough to wake up to your phone after you’ve been living the sunrise life for a while.  

It ain’t cheap. When I bought mine, it was $99, but now it’s around $130. Sometimes Amazon has “Used – Like New” ones that are cheaper, so keep an eye out. Check out eBay, too.

Bottom Line: It’s A Morning Gamechanger

Despite these drawbacks, you’d have to pry the SmartSleep out of my cold, dead hands to get it away from me. I never want to go back to a time when angry buzzing or mechanical tones dragged me out of my slumber and into the waking world. 

I did quite a bit of research before I decided that SmartSleep was the one for me, but if you want to explore other sunrise alarm clock options, this article is a great resource. Regardless of which one you choose, switching to a sunrise alarm clock is a small change that can make a big difference in how you start your day. 

Think you have a better way to wake up? Let me know in the comments. I’m always looking to try new things!

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