Do you struggle to wake up most mornings? The truth is most people are not morning people and struggle to get up in the morning. Still, waking up early is one of the best things you can do for your health and productivity. You know all the platitudes about “The early bird gets the worm” and “Early to bed, early to rise,” so we won’t go there.
Yet it’s hard to start the day on time when your mind is still fuzzy and groggy. On those days, you want nothing more than to drift back to sleep after the alarm goes off. That’s why sunrise alarm clocks are gaining popularity. They provide a less harsh, more soothing way to awaken and get ready for your busy day.
What is a Sunrise Alarm Clock?
A sunrise alarm clock is a clock that sets an alarm that awakens you in a gentle, more natural way, as a natural sunrise does. You set the clock at your chosen hour and when it goes off, it exposes your eyes gradually to light, much as the sun coming up in the morning does.
With many models, you can also include a sound component, much like a traditional alarm clock, although the sounds are usually mellower than your typical alarm clock. Some sunrise alarm clocks also will allow you to control the time it takes for the light to reach its full strength. So, you could set the clock to increase the light over a period of 15 minutes or a half hour, depending on how gradual you want to wake up.
Pros and Cons of Using a Sunrise Alarm Clock
What are the benefits of a sunrise alarm clock? These alarms are designed to create an artificial sunrise — they mimic the natural sunlight with a light- and sound-based alarm. And they’re made to wake you up more naturally than a traditional alarm clock. Some also give you the option of playing soothing nature sounds, like birds singing, as it awakens you with gradual light. It makes each morning less of a rude awakening.
Sunrise alarms are also easier on your eyes and ears than regular alarms in the morning. You don’t have to listen to six or seven beeps before you can hit snooze. You can set various alarm times and days of the week, so you won’t need to set an alarm every day.
More Consistent Sleep
Setting a sunrise alarm clock to wake you up at a consistent time each morning can help you get more consistent sleep, and that’s better for your health. Exposure to light at the same time every morning also helps properly set your biological clock and establishes healthy circadian rhythms. Using a sunrise alarm clock also helps reduce that groggy, tired feeling you get in the morning, known as sleep inertia because you awaken gradually.
According to UW Medicine’s blog, waking up in a less rushed manner with the help of a sunrise alarm clock may be healthier for your heart, too. Awakening abruptly to the harsh squawks of a traditional alarm clock creates added stress on your heart. If you have high blood pressure or heart disease, a sunrise alarm clock may be safer. Waking up is one of the most stressful things people do over 24 hours. It places more stress on your body than you might imagine.
The Stress of Awakening in the Morning
How much stress is enough to harm your health? Morning is the time when heart attacks are most likely to occur. Plus, morning heart attacks, according to research, create more heart damage. One reason heart attacks are more common in the morning and create more damage is levels of a protein called PA-1, which breaks down blood clots is higher.
Plus, cortisol, a stress hormone peaks in the morning. In addition, you’re dehydrated, another factor that increases the risk of a blood clot. It’s a confluence of factors that makes morning the most stressful time for your heart and the rest of your body.
Using a sunrise alarm clock to awaken more gradually may help your body manage the stress of awakening a little better. When you wake up, take the time to stretch and drink a big glass of water. Practice a little self-care in the morning and get up at a time when you won’t feel rushed.
The Disadvantages of a Sunrise Alarm Clock
Sunrise alarm clocks also have some disadvantages. Some of these are technical. Though they’re not as expensive as they used to be, they’re still pricier than standard alarm clocks. And more things can go wrong that you might not be able to fix, meaning you must invest in a new one. That means you need to be careful about where you buy one and how you set it up. If you don’t want to get up at 5 a.m., don’t get one that wakes you up in the middle of the night or comes on automatically when the sun comes up.
The Bottom Line
You’ll pay more for a sunrise alarm clock but having one can also make awakening in the morning a mellower experience. It could also give you a gentle prod if you’re trying to become a morning person and help you tackle the most stressful time on your body. It could also help you sleep better at night, thanks to healthier circadian rhythms. For best results, wake up and get out of bed at the same time every day.
- “Do Sunrise Lights Work? – Right as Rain by UW Medicine.” 03 Nov. 2021, cormsrightasrain.uwmedicine.org/body/rest/wakeup-lights.
- “The Role of Melatonin in the Circadian Rhythm Sleep-Wake Cycle.” 10 Jul. 2012, cormspsychiatrictimes.com/view/role-melatonin-circadian-rhythm-sleep-wake-cycle.
- Claustrat B, Brun J, Borson-Chazot F. Mélatonine et rythmes circadiens [Melatonin and circadian rhythm]. Rev Neurol (Paris). 2001 Nov;157(11 Pt 2):S121-5. French. PMID: 11924023.
- “Why the heart attack is most common in early mornings.” 13 Oct. 2020, https://www.medclique.org/heart-health/heart-attack-common-early-morning/.