Despite the odds, I love my alarm clock.
I would not have thought it possible, but I love my alarm clock. Recently my wife and I acquired a Phillips Wake Up Light. As the days were getting shorter in October, we lamented the fact that we now had to try to drag ourselves out of bed in the dark every morning. Thus, fighting our natural reaction that we should still be sleeping because the sun is not up yet.
Psychobiology Class Taught Me Something Useful.
I had been aware from a psychobiology class in college that a structure in our brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus uses the light, or lack of light, that hits the eye’s retina to help set and maintain our circadian (24 hour) rhythm. In the summer months, the natural light was exposed to our retinas some time before needing to wake up. When we awoke to the alarm, our brains were fairly alert and ready to go.
Then it was Winter.
The winter months are a different story. Nature was working against us. There was the conflicting need to be up long before the sun rises but the darkness told our bodies we should be asleep. At times, getting up required great effort. Regardless of how many times the snooze button was pressed (or pounded!), getting vertical was just plain tough.
A side note: The light helps you stay awake. If you are trying to sleep with the television on, this may work against you. Lesson learned.
The Alarm Clock Test.
In past years, I had recommended this type of clock to those that had trouble waking up. It was time to try it for myself. From the first day, we loved it. The alarm light produces a light similar to the sun’s light at dawn; beginning with the red-orange glow of sunrise, leading to the more intense white light as morning progresses. The time it takes to get through the progression of light can be set by the owner. We have been going with 20 minutes. At the end of 20 minutes, the light is white and bright, and the sound of birds begins (our chosen alarm sound; radio or other sounds can be used). By the time the alarm sounds, our retinas have been receiving a slowly increasing intensity of photons that signal our suprachiasmatic nuclei’ to prepare for consciousness. While we have not felt like leaping out of bed on every single morning, it has not been near the struggle it would have been pre-Phillips Wake Up Light.
We chose our brand due to good ratings from other purchasers, but a quick search online produced numerous options for these types of alarms:
- Information on the body’s circadian rhythm
- Some useful sleep tips from the National Sleep Foundation
- WebMD. Some information on “sleep gadgets”, including alarm lights
We can help.
If you have concerns about your sleeping habits or mood and would like to discuss it, we can help. At VITAL WorkLife we have a variety of resources available to help, including unlimited telephonic counseling, in-person counseling, peer coaching and support and WorkLife Assistant.
If you are a member of one of our solutions, call us any time, day or night, for the support you and your family need.
EAP members: call 800.383.1908
Physician and Provider Wellness Resources members: call 877.731.3949
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About VITAL WorkLife
VITAL WorkLife, Inc. is a national behavioral health consulting company providing solutions to support all dimensions of an individual’s well being, while assisting organizations with improving employee engagement. Our approach consists of guiding employees, their families and their organizations in building sustainable, healthy behaviors and cultures. With over 35 years of experience, we have expanded beyond traditional employee assistance programs (EAP) and now offer comprehensive and holistic well being solutions including customizable programs, coaching, training, consulting and leadership development. We have deep experience in education, manufacturing and health care, especially assisting physicians and providers in dealing with the unique challenges facing their profession. Visit us at VITALWorkLife.com.