2 years ago, for Christmas, I asked for a Lumie light because I was having a stupidly hard time getting up in the morning, and I’d heard that they helped. I got a Lumie Bodyclock Starter 30 and, long story short, it has helped me. But that would be a fairly uninformative post, so I’ll tell you a little more, shall I?
Why would dawn simulation help me wake up better?
You’ve probably seen these kind of lights around. The type I have is just aimed at helping people wake up a little easier, using what’s called ‘dawn simulation’. But some are actually targeted as therapy for people experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
To understand how and why these lights seem to work, we need to talk about circadian rhythms.
If you don’t know already, you can think of your circadian rhythm as a kind of sleep/wake cycle; a pattern of biological processes and functions that fluctuate during the day and tell us when we should be preparing for sleeping and waking. Although this is all happening inside our bodies, our circadian rhythms are influenced by external cues like light and temperature. For example, many hormones ‘reset’ themselves in the morning during dawn-light hours.
The other thing to be aware of, is that there are 2 types of sleep. There’s the slow wave NREM sleep, and there’s the more active REM sleep. Naturally, we’re supposed to wake up during a more active sleep state, rather than the slow wave type.
Apparently, when we wake up abruptly during slow wave sleep (i.e. when our alarm goes off and we’re rudely jolted awake), it can cause sleep inertia.
Sleep inertia is kind of like that groggy feeling you experience when you first wake up, and you can’t seem to walk properly, and you can’t say anything other than “URRRR”, and you accidentally put your phone in the fridge and the jam in your dressing gown pocket. True story.
Now, I don’t know if I’ve been waking up during NREM sleep or not. I don’t use sleep tracking apps, or anything like that. But, I do know that I feel really lethargic and clumsy for most of the day when I’ve struggled to wake up in the morning. You know how it is.
And, I’ve noticed that I struggle with this way more during the latter half of the year, as the mornings become increasingly dark.
So, thinking about all of this, it isn’t super surprising that simulating dawn-light can make it easier to wake up , because light is one of the cues our body uses to ‘set’ our sleep/wake cycle.
The Lumie Bodyclock STARTER 30
Lumie is a company that have been making lights to treat SAD since 1991. The clocks are actually certified medical devices, and they supply the NHS.
My Bodyclock is one of Lumie’s wake-up lights, and it’s designed to wake me up gradually with a simulation of natural daylight that increases in intensity and brightness. In theory, this produces a biological signal for my body to start the wake cycle.
We know sleep is crazy important. It affects everything from cognitive function, energy, productivity, mood, hunger, and social function. Hopefully, then, waking up naturally would at least help keep all of those things in a nice, happy, regulated harmony.
What I like about the Bodyclock is that you can customise how you use it. There is an optional alarm beep and a snooze feature, neither of which I need to use right now, but some people might love.
I personally use just the 30 minute ‘sunrise’ feature which gradually increases the light intensity for half an hour before you want to wake up. However, you can also choose to use the sunset feature which helps you wind down before sleep, again, for 30 minutes.
You can actually just use it as a dimmable bedside light, which is great if you get up during the night and don’t want the full instant bright glow of a normal light.
I need to get up at the same time every weekday, so it’s really easy for me to use. Once my time is set, I just press the button on the clock before I go to bed each night to activate my sunrise for the next morning.
I wake up to a room full of seemingly natural sunlight. There’s even a sunray effect which is really cute and makes me smile when I look at it.
Honestly, I don’t use the clock all year round, only during the months where the mornings are darker and it’s much harder for me to get up.
Since using the Bodyclock, I have felt more refreshed and ‘with it’ during the whole day. I’m less clumsy in the mornings, I feel alert when I wake up, as opposed to groggy and tired like when I wake up with my phone alarm.
Whilst I can’t speak for experience of SAD, I do think this device would really help people who generally have winter blues. As an alarm clock, it isn’t cheap, but if you think of it more as a device that’s going to benefit your mood and general health, it’s well worth it in my opinion.
Do you think a Lumie light would help you in the mornings? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.