Is Light the Key to Waking Up Early?

The market for light-based alarms seems to be growing

Alarm clock
Few people enjoy waking up early — but it can make a difference.
Abdülkadir Vardi/Unsplash

No two people sleep in exactly the same way, and an early-morning routine might sound perfect to one person and horrific to another. Still, there are plenty of reasons to wake up early — whether that’s for work, for exercise or to engage in a creative pursuit. But to have an early-morning routine in the first place, you have to actually wake up early in the morning to engage in it — and that’s where the trouble starts.

I write this as someone who’s emphatically not a morning person, and who has resorted to some quite frankly bizarre methods to get myself up earlier than I’d like. (One relatively successful experiment involved using an endless loop of Axl Rose asking for reggae to get myself out of bed.) As it turns out, there might be a better way than this — and it involves a very simple ingredient: light.

A 2021 NPR report cited the University of Michigan’s Dr. Afifa Shamim-Uzzaman, who argued convincingly that light is the best way to get people out of bed early. It’s not surprising that alarm clocks that simulate daylight to slowly wake you from sleeping are widely available — and have become very popular over the last decade.

The market for them also seems to be growing. In a report updated earlier this year, Business Research Insights predicts that the global market for light-based alarm clocks will more than double between 2021 and 2027.

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It’s also worth noting that sunrise alarm clocks are increasingly able to interface with other technology — late last year, in an overview of notable alarm clocks, Business Insider hailed the Philips SmartSleep Connected in part because of its ability to help sleepers better understand how they rest. A lot of bells and whistles — literally, in some cases — can help get you up, but sometimes it’s the simplest things that work best.

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