A confession: I haven't hit the snooze button in six months. Prior to that, I was a chronic procrastinator, blindly pawing at my iPhone three, maybe four times a morning to steal a few more precious minutes. This was not a source of enjoyment but a sysiphusian act, as the extra time allotted by each tap-and-swipe of the screen only meant I had to suffer through an ear-shredding salvo again and again. To wake up to a screaming alarm, I finally realized, was to start my day in a panicked state.
My solution: I dropped $70 on a gradual light alarm. Much like a standard bedside model, the device has a clock to set and a few chimes that go off. But rather than rousing me with sound alone, it has an LED inside that, a half-hour before my scheduled wake up time, steadily grows brighter, simulating a natural sunrise. When the subtle alarm does go off, my coal-dark bedroom is already swathed in sunlight and my body is already nudged awake naturally without the need for a DEFCON-5 dose of stress hormones.
Scientifically speaking, light is the guiding force in our sleep-regulating circadian system and we’re biologically inclined to doze in the dark and rise in the light. But all I can say is that the steady glow of the alarm allows me to wake without elevating my heart. And, just in case I do want to steal a few more minutes, it does have a snooze button.
Here are five options to help brighten your morning.
1. Philips HF3506/66 Wake Light
Philips has an array of excellent light-therapy alarms, many of which are approved by the National Sleep Institute. This spherical number, which I currently use, is small enough to sit on a nightstand and has a programmable LED clock. It peaks at 200 Lux (roughly the equivalent of a standard bedside table lamp) but has ten settings so you can personalize the intensity to your liking. $90; philips.com
2. LIFX Original Smartbulb
What looks like a standard 60-watt is actually a wifi-connected, programmable LED bulb. Screw it into a bedside lamp and through a partner app you can set it to turn on at a certain time and gradually increase in brightness. The bulb offers are more than 16 million colors to select, but save the psychedelics for your next house party — when it comes to waking up, sunlight-mimicking white or yellow work best. Starting at $40; lifx.com
3. BioBrite Sunrise Clock Advanced Model
In addition to its simulated sunrise wakeup, which can be set to start at 15, 30, 45 or one hour before your alarm, this dome-shaped Biobrite also features a fade-out setting that dims the light as you fall asleep. There's also an FM radio setting that can be set to correspond with either modes. from $120; biobrite.com
4. Yantouch Diamond + BTS
Perched on a nightstand, this polygonal system seems like a prop snatched from the set of The Avengers. More than a mere design exercise, the Diamond is a take-anywhere rechargeable Bluetooth speaker that doubles as a wakeup light. The 2.1-watt sound system features dim and rise light options, a ten-hour battery and the choice of hearing either preset alarms or other content streamed from a compatible device. $149; yantouch.com
5. Lumie Body Clock Active 250
Certified as a Class 1 medical device, the Lumie Body Clock not only uses light to trigger natural waking, but also uses its precision-tuned light to help those suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder Syndrome. While a bit girth-y, the light is crammed with useful features, including six alarm sounds, dim and rise settings and a timer that can be dialed in between 15 and 90 minutes. $120 (est.); lumie.com