Can you imagine waking up in every morning without the heart-stopping and annoying alarm clock, slowly opening your eyes to soft light and sounds of birds chirping, just like you would wake up in nature?
I can tell you that as until a few years ago, I never imagined an alternative for the conventional alarm clock buzzer.
After discovering dawn simulators, I can’t imagine ever going back. And I’ll bet you’ll never want to go back to audible alarm clocks again.
A light therapy alarm clock works with your body’s natural rhythms to wake you up with gradually brightening light that re-sets your sleep/wake cycle to help you feel refreshed, alert and energized all day.
Most dawn simulators, like the Philips Wake up light, will also simulate dusk to help you fall asleep.
How Does a Dawn Simulator Alarm Clock Work?
Did you know that even when your eyes are shut, they register and recognize any increase in light, and signal the body that “the sun” is coming up?
The pineal gland is signaled by the increase in light to produce serotonin – The “feel good” hormone and cortisol – That wakes you up like nature intended.
At the same time, the gradual increase in light reduces the production of sleep hormones (melatonin). This is the best way to prevent morning “grump” and irritability – You gradually wake up just as you would if you were sleeping in the forest.
The immediate result – More productivity, energy and lifted mood for the rest of the day.
How to Choose a Dawn Simulator?
You’ve got lots of light therapy alarm clocks to choose from, with different features, elements and of course – Prices. Through my research, the 3 best dawn simulators in 2014 are:
#1 – Philips Wake-Up LightThe Philips HF3520 is an official light therapy product of the National Sleep Foundation and the #1 best seller in light therapy products on Amazon (at the time I wrote thie post) – For good reasons.
The Philips attractively designed wake up light (LED light) simulates both dusk and dawn, so you can use it as a natural way to fall asleep easily and wake up gradually, feeling energized and calm – Through re-setting your sleep cycles naturally.
How it Works – The UV-free wake up light (with 20 brightness settings!) gradually increases between 20-40 minutes prior to your wake up time.
You can activate the Wake-Up Light’s snooze by touching anywhere on the light after your alarm goes off, giving yourself an extra 9 minutes of sleep.
You don’t have to worry about pushing the device to the floor because the durable Wake-Up Light is designed with non-slip rubber feet, keeping it securely on your nightstand.
You can choose to add one of 5 different nature-inspired sounds, like chirping birds (my favorite) or FM radio. The sound takes a minute and a half to reach full volume (so you won’t be startled) and if you want, you can use it without any sounds at all.
A light-responsive dimming feature guides you to natural, restful sleep, and the different brightness settings makes this one a great bedside lamp for reading.
Size & Weight – Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 10.6 x 10.3 inches ; 1 pounds
Light Intensity – You can select the light intensity that you feel most comfortable with, up to 300 LUX. Higher levels will wake you up faster, lower levels wake you up more gradually.
Light bulb is LED, which is supposed to last for about 20 years.
Voltage: 100/240 V
Battery powered/Electric – This product is powered by electricity through a 110V AC cord that plugs into a wall socket. There is not a battery backup.
Warranty – 2 years.
Ease of Use – Changing the different features is pretty easy.
Price – The price is a bit alarming (pun intended), but the prices for all dawn simulators are about the same. Most users find it worth every penny and it seems like a high quality product that won’t break down fast.
You can see Amazon’s today’s special price (20% discount right now) HERE.
Downsides: It will probably take you a few days to figure out the light intensity you want to wake up to and the sound that you prefer waking up to (my favorite is definitely the chirping birds). The price is a bit on the high but all in all the benefits it make it worth it in my personal opinion.
If you want to know more, you can see a big bunch of user reviews for it on Amazon.
Bottom Line – If I had to just 1 of these 3 dawn simulator alarm clocks, I would definitely go for the Philips HF3520. It’s easy to use, it’s well-built and configured and has many great features. Plus I love the design!
#2 – BioBrite Sunrise Clock
The Biobrite Sunrise Clock has a different design as you can see in the picture above and has a nice hand-made opal glass globe. It has almost the same features as the Philips Wakeup Light, with different settings for sunrise and sunset.
But, the Biobrite doesn’t have the spa/nature sounds feature, only a medium-noisy beeping which you can choose to use (or not) along with the light.
But, unlike the Philips HF3520, the Biobrite has an optional beeper and power failure back up for reassurance, something that may be important to you.
How it Works – You can set dawn and dusk cycles of 15, 30, 60, or 90 minutes, and the LCD display fades to very low level when you want to sleep.
The light won’t turn off by itself of course, it stays on until you hit the snooze button (The little “minus” button) and hold it as the light dims down. It’s actually quicker to turn the buzz off first (if you decided to use it along with the light) and then the light.
Size & Weight – 9.5 x 7 x 7 inches ; 3.5 pounds. This one is quite large. It looks small in the picture but has a base of about 9″ x 4″ and a height of about 7-8″ .
Light bulb – Incandescent (replaceable).
Electric/Battery – Corded but has a little battery for back up, to maintain the time. But the light doesn’t work if it’s not plugged in.
Warranty – 1 year.
Downsides – The Biobrite is not as easy to use as the Philips HF3520. It takes more time to set the wake up time and it doesn’t come with any nature sounds. There’s a “program” button that has to be tapped between 1 and 5 times for the various features you’re trying to access. But, all in all it does “the job” and the price is lower than the Philips.
Price – You can find the best price for it on Amazon (21% discount right now) with free shipping.
Bottom Line – If you were my friend I would advise you to go for the Philips, but this one is cheaper and while a bit more complex to use, does the job well.
#3 – Verilux Rise and Shine
The Verilux Rise and Shine comes with a regular incandescent bulb. Like the other ones above, it has both dusk and dawn features, plus 4 built-in nature sounds to fall asleep or wake up to (Songbird Serenade, Pond Life Harmony, Ocean Rhythms, or Streamside Melodies) and FM radio.
It also can be used as a bedside lamps and has 20 different light settings.
How it Works – to turn the light off, you can just press down on the dome, and the light will turn on / off. This is also the snooze button for the alarm, but you can choose not to use any sounds at all. The Verilux doesn’t have a sunset feature, but you can set it for a time in 5 minute increments – for example 10, 15, 30 etc. it will gradually darken and go off.
Size & Weight – 8.8 x 6.8 x 12 inches ; 2.6 pounds
UV Free – Yes.
Battery powered/Electric – Electric (110 voltage). It does not have battery back up.
Price – The Verilux Rise and shine is the cheapest one of these three. You can see the current price HERE.
Downsides: It’s getting more and more difficult to get incandescent bulbs and you can only replace it with a bulb which is compatible with an incandescent dimmer.
Bottom Line – Looks funny, it’s a little tricky to use, but a good night table lamp and alarm. The most attractive “feature” is the price – Which is 30$ less than the Philips, and 20$ less than the Biobrite.
Who Should Not Get a Dawn Simulator
If you are miserable when being abruptly awakened to dark surroundings, a dawn simulator will be a game changer for you.
A dawn simulator alarm clock will also be of great help to anyone suffering from trouble in falling asleep and waking up early and do not want to use medication. Dawn simulators help to re-set the circadian rhythm naturally.
The best return on investment in my opinion is the definitely the Philips Wakeup Light. It’s the most reliable dawn simulator, it’s easiest to use and it has the highest user ratings – For good reasons.
However, if you suffer from “winter blues” symptoms (SAD) you should not a get light therapy alarm clocks, but instead a full spectrum SAD lamp/light box (10,ooo LUX).
What about you? Have you ever owned a dawn simulator? Tell me about your experience in the comments below…
To your health & happiness,
PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.