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Sunrise Alarm Clocks
Dawn SimulatorOur bodies are the result of millions of years of evolution - our industrialised society has existed for only a fraction of that time.
Over the millenia our bodies have developed a daily rhythm - the circadian rhythm - based on the rising and setting of the sun. We are sensitive to sunlight; the absence or presence of light triggers or suppresses the release of hormones such as melatonin and seretonin that affect our sleepiness and our mood. This is one reason why some people feel depressed during the winter months. Such depression is known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). In milder form it is sometimes called the "winter blues".
In modern society the natural rhythms of night and day are ignored. More and more life goes on 24x7. As individuals we wake and sleep in line with the demands of the job, not our bodies. We fall in to bed without necessarily feeling tired then get rudely awakened by a shrill alarm. It's hardly the best start to the day. Is it any wonder that so many of us are frequently tired and irritable?
Sunrise alarm clocks - also known as bodyclocks, dawn alarm clocks and dawn simulators - are one way of tackling this problem.
What is a Sunrise Simulator Alarm Clock?In essence a sunrise alarm clock is simply an ordinary alarm clock complete with a computer controlled fading light. This is effectively a dawn or sunrise simulator. The timing of the light is usually adjustable, allowing it to gradually fade down at night and fade up again in the morning. Even when you are asleep, the body can still sense the changes in light levels. The simulated sunset and simulated dawn thus reproduce a natural nighttime sunset and pleasant morning sunrise.
The result for many people is better sleep where the simulated dawn provides a more gentle awakening than being jarred out of sleep by the alarm. A dawn simulator clock can thus be thought of as being a "gentle alarm".
There are many different makes of sunlight alarms to choose from, some well-known brands include Soleil and Biobrite. As well as the basic dawn simulation effect, some more advanced models available to buy on the market include features such as radios and white noise to mask external noise at night. The Soleil Sun Alarm even has an optional extra unit to allow it to control an external light.
Speaking personally, I've used a dawn simulator sunrise alarm for some while now and wouldn't be without one. For me it really works - I usually find myself waking up gently and naturally a few minutes before the set time. I can't remember the last time I needed the audible alarm to wake me up.
Effect of simulated dawn on quality of sleep a community-based trial