Do wake-up sleep therapy alarm clocks work? We tested and explain why light exposure is such a BIG deal for your sleep quality.
“We live in a constant state of lightedness, because of artificial light, and it’s throwing our body’s sleep systems out of balance,” says Immediate Past Chair of the Better Sleep Council, and Sleep Number VP of Sleep Science & Research, Pete Bils. “From a pure health perspective and state of sleep science, we are vastly abusing our exposure to light. For a millennium we would experience gigantic changes in the amount of bright light and darkness we got. We now live in a constant dim light. We don’t expose ourselves to enough bright light outside, or pure darkness at night.”
Why does this matter? Because it negatively impacts your sleep quality. Light exposure anchors all circadian rhythms, and impacts your body’s melatonin production.
Before electric lights, the average human being was more in sync with the natural rhythms of the sun. We worked when it was light and slept when it was dark. Today, we can work whenever and sleep whenever. For most of us—and especially those in northern climates—we may spend most of our waking day inside under artificial light. Meanwhile our devices have us in a constant state of what Bils calls “lightedness”. As a result, it's rare that we can get full-sun during the day and full-darkness at night.
Because electric light and screens are so pervasive the best we can do is to mitigate the effects. So, Bils tried the new Philips Somneo Wake-Up and Sleep Therapy Light to see how it stacks up in his scientific opinion. Overall, he recommends the product and here are his top 8 reasons why:
- It’s designed for someone who has trouble falling asleep or waking up. People in northern climates especially benefit from a light like this because of the great variation in natural light patterns farther away from the equator.
- For falling asleep, the product graduates through a series of colors that mimic the sunset leading up to your bedtime. You can set the ‘sunset’ for 5-60 minutes, with the option of rain or ocean wave nature sounds (or no sound) to help you fall asleep naturally.
- For waking up, there’s a nice feature to wake up to a gradual increase in light, which simulates the sun rising. About 30 minutes before you wake up, it gets very dim, and the brightness increases as you approach your wake-up time. You can set this for 5-40 minutes, if you want.
- You can set the intensity of sleep and wake settings. It takes a bit of experimentation, but has many options, so I believe most people will find something that works for them. You can program two wake-up profiles which works well for two sleepers, to address if you need to wake up quickly, or prefer a slow gradual nudge out of bed, or want to have weekday vs. weekend settings.
- If you wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom or check on the kids, you can tap the top and it glows orange like an orange moon which is an ideal color to have (blue light isn’t good because it simulates the blue morning sky and our brains are trained to associate that color with being awake). Tap the top and it turns back off.
- It includes a breathing relaxation technique guided by light or sound. A lot of sleep experts recommend this as a good way to shed things on your mind and unwind at the end of the day. Select a range of 4-10 breaths per minute, and the product will guide you when to take a breath and exhale.
- If you like to read in bed at night, which I highly recommend as an excellent pre-bedtime routine, this has 25 different intensities of light, which can be a great nightstand light.
- You can customize the brightness of the clock face, so it is completely dark at night. No more covering the bright light of your clock to achieve a very dark room.
Learn more about the Philips Somneo Wake-Up and Sleep Therapy Light available by visiting https://www.sleepnumber.com/sn/en/Bed-Accessories/p/424484.
More about Pete Bils:
Pete Bils, Sleep Number® setting 25, has spent more than 20 years researching sleep, and is focused on studying the critical relationship between sleep, good health and quality of life. Since joining Sleep Number in 1996, Bils passionately investigates the use of new technologies to promote better sleep. He pioneered the company’s pressure sensor technology, IndividualFit™ 3-D Imaging, which is used in all Sleep Number® stores to find customers’ ideal Sleep Number® setting (their level of comfort, firmness and support). Bils works with professional sports team – looking at sleep’s impact on performance and recovery. He also spends countless hours in the lab studying sleep behaviors and patterns. By studying how people sleep, Bils plays a pivotal role in designing products that help people sleep better.
Bils is an active member of several sleep leadership organizations, including:
- Immediate Past Chair of the Better Sleep Council
- Member of the National Sleep Foundation
- Member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine
- Adjunct professor at Northwestern Health Sciences University in Minneapolis
- Working directly with professional athletes and sports teams
- Visiting sleep lecturer at Edina Public Schools