The Dawn Simulator Alarm Clock – Tips For Choosing the Right One

The Dawn Simulator Alarm Clock has to be one of the brightest (you should pardon the pun) ideas of this century. Designed to work with your body’s natural rhythms to wake you up in the morning (or whenever it is you need to get up), rain or shine, daylight or dark outside, regardless of the natural light conditions caused by the weather or the season, a dawn simulator may also be the healthiest way to wake up in those dark fall and winter months.

Old Fashioned Alarm Clock

Why a Dawn Simulator Alarm Clock? you may ask. The simple answer is the easiest: If ever there was a device specifically designed to make you sit up straight in a darkened bedroom with your heart pounding like a trip-hammer, it has to be the traditional alarm clock (there’s a reason it’s called an “alarm” you know). Remember the old wind-up alarm clocks . . . They actually HAD fire-station type bells on them, with a hammer banging back and forth between the two of them until you could get to the off switch, fling the alarm clock across the room, or smash it with your own hammer. Ah, and how many times did you want to do exactly that?

CD/Radio Alarm Clock

To be fair, over the years, alarm clocks have been modified and improved to be less “alarming” when they wake you up, no doubt decreasing the number of early morning heart attacks. The alarm clock has evolved, over time, moving away from the clanging like the bells in a firehouse to create instead a loud buzzing beep, and ultimately resulting in the alarm clock radio which gave you the option of waking to a buzzing beep or to the radio station of your choice. The alarm clock radio itself evolved, adding cassette tape and cd players, and even, more recently, a dock for your iPod, so you could not only choose between a beep or music, you could choose exactly what kind of music to awaken with.

Trouble is, for a lot of us, even if you chose the alarm clock’s music option, you had to up the volume to a level that would actually wake you up, and then you were right back to that heart pounding rush of adrenalin first thing in the morning ~ which, as it is the fight or flight endorphin that brings your body to battle readiness, may explain all those cranky, crabby “I’m-not-a-morning-person” types out there that you know better than to talk to until they’ve had their morning coffee. Ironic that it takes a caffeine-laced drink to soothe one into a more equable mood after being so rudely awakened by a loud alarm clock.

Dawn Simulator Alarm Clocks Eliminate Early Morning Crabbiness

Dawn simulator alarm clocks eliminate much of that early morning crabbiness because of the soothing, natural way in which one wakes up to a dawn simulator alarm clock. In truth, the term “dawn simulator alarm clock” is an oxymoron: the dawn simulator can hardly be called an “alarm clock” in that it doesn’t shock you awake and induce that kind of adrenalin-fueled tendency to snap or growl at anyone who’s foolish enough to even catch your eye first thing in the morning.

Philips Dawn Simulator Alarm Clock

Instead, the dawn simulator alarm clock, as it slowly lightens the room in the same way the rising of the sun does at dawn, causes your brain to signal your body to release serotonin ~ the feel-good hormone ~ that causes you to wake naturally, feeling rested and refreshed from your sleep rather than tired and irritable after being jolted out of sleep. Because, while your body may have gotten the same amount of sleep and rest, the way you wake affects the usefulness of that rest period. Why? because the natural after effect of an adrenaline rush is tiredness as your body relaxes from its full alert, all-hands-on-deck!, stance. Waking to a dawn simulator alarm clock instead circumvents that adrenaline dump into your bloodstream, so you don’t have the after effects of tiredness and irritability to deal with.

Additionally, some dawn simulator alarm clocks, like the Phillips Wake Up Light pictured above, will also simulate dusk to help you fall asleep. You may be thinking falling asleep isn’t the problem, but for some, like people who work nights or rotating shifts, it can be. Have a look at this video of the Phillips Wake Up Light, and you’ll see what I mean. Many people who suffer from what is coming to be known as Shift Workers Disorder (SWD) might be greatly helped by both of these features.

Dawn Simulator Alarm Clock Grew Out of Scientific Studies of Light Therapy

Dawn simulator alarm clocks grew out of the same science that, recognizing the effects of light deprivation on people ~ particularly a percentage of those with depressive disorders ~ began experimenting with bright or full-spectrum light therapy. As early as the 1980’s we were hearing about scientists in the Pacific northwest who had developed light boxes for school children who tended to be chronically tired and slower to react, learn, and respond in the classroom during the darker fall and winter months. They found that having children sit in front of bright or full-spectrum light boxes for 30 minutes to 2 hours each morning improved their alertness and ability to pay attention and stay on task at a normal level throughout the rest of the day

These findings and others like them prompted the creation and manufacture of light Dawn Simulator Alarm Clock Light Boxtherapy boxes, like the Natural Dawn Simulator Alarm Clock Light Box from Sunrise Systems (pictured to the right), that could be purchased by individuals and used at home, as well as the creation and manufacture of “natural” or full-spectrum light bulbs one could use in standard lamps and light fixtures. Over the years, through more experimentation and just through everyday use, it was discovered that this kind of light therapy was most effective if applied early in the day ~ and the earlier the better ~ which eventually led to the invention of the dawn simulator and ultimately the dawn simulator alarm clock.

For one thing, few people could find 30 minutes to 2 hours first thing in the morning to sit in front of a light therapy box or panel. Even if you could be doing something else while your eyes and body absorbed the benefits of the light, the time required was often difficult to fit into one’s schedule. Additionally, even those who could schedule the requisite time were in many ways using the light box to “cure” a condition that shouldn’t have existed in the first place. They were still being jolted awake by a traditional alarm clock, and then ameliorating the effects of that adrenal rush through light therapy.

Then, finally, someone obviously realized that one could “cut out the middle man,” so to speak, and begin the day with light therapy instead of just using it to reverse the effect of having your sleep cycle broken by being startled awake before sunrise. Enter the dawn simulator ~ a kind of light therapy that begins one’s day more naturally and more healthily.

Dawn Simulator Works with Your Natural Body Clock

A dawn simulator works with your natural body clock ~ your circadian rhythm that signals when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to wake up by releasing either serotonin as it gets light or melatonin as it gets dark. The gradual lessening of daylight hours in the fall can actually throw your body clock off, and even disturb your sleep cycle, as you continue to need to wake up at the same time, even though it’s still dark, and go to bed at the same time, even though the sun went down hours earlier.

The dawn simulator helps to re-establish your natural sleep cycle even during the darkest days of winter, because the dawn simulator simulates sunrise by gradually raising the level of light in the room, usually from a bedside lamp ~ sometimes even negating the need for an alarm clock at all.

Even asleep, the eyes register and recognize the increase in light and signal the body that “the sun” is coming up. The pineal gland is signaled by the increase in light to secrete serotonin ~ the wake-up refreshed and feeling good hormone ~ and you gradually awaken just as you would if you were sleeping in front of a window that lit the room with the rising sun.

From “dawn simulator” to “dawn simulator alarm clock” was an easy leap from there. Indeed, as was the case with alarm clocks in general, the dawn simulator alarm clock is also evolving and being refined by various manufacturers.

Dawn Simulator Alarm Clock Fits Your Life ~ Naturally

These days, dawn simulator alarm clocks not only gradually bring up the light in your bedroom, they may also include a “back up” alarm clock that you can set to beep you awake like a traditional alarm clock, in case you think you might sleep through the increasing level of light. Even better, there are dawn simulator alarm clocks now that also come with the option of early morning sounds like gentle birdsong to accompany the gradual increase of light.

And if you’re worried about how it will look with the rest of your things, don’t be. Some Dawn Simulator Alarm Clockdawn simulator alarm clocks are just as unobtrusive in form as in function, like the Sunrise Dawn Sun Simulator Alarm Clock pictured here, for instance, which fits unobtrusively into your bedroom decor by making a dawn simulator out of your own bedside lamp.

Speaking as one of the percentage of the population who actually has Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) ~ the effects of which last all day, particularly if the day is grey and overcast as well as being short of daylight hours ~ I have to say that the dawn simulator alarm clock is a pearl without price. With or without the morning birdsong (which, by the way is my second or third favorite sound ~ running neck and neck with the sound of the sea), the dawn simulator alarm clock is one of the true blessings of technology for people with SAD ~ and even for people without that depressive disorder.

We all evolved in harmony with nature, including the natural inclination to rise with the sun and become tired and sleepy as darkness falls at night. Unfortunately, the pace of contemporary life makes arranging our schedules to coincide with daylight hours impossible for most of us. At the same time, continuing to shock the body awake with the loud noises of a traditional alarm clock (even those that start soft and get louder until you shut them off or hit the snooze button) is unhealthy if only because the repeated release of adrenaline, and its after effects, negates the rejuvenating effects of what restful sleep you have gotten through the night. And we haven’t even touched on the negative effects on the body of the stress caused by the repeated release of adrenaline over time.

The dawn simulator alarm clock is the answer, and fortunately a variety of dawn simulator alarm clocks are becoming easier and easier to find. Maybe not in your local department store, pharmacy, or alternative health care store, but certainly in the virtual storefronts on the internet, dawn simulator alarm clocks of all shapes and sizes and added features abound.

For more reviews and a great video, check out this link on

Wishing you a bright and beautiful sunrise every morning!

About Rebecca

Rebecca Longster is a writer, reader, and lover of words. She once was a teacher of words, and how to use 'em, at Purdue University but now she just plays with 'em instead. She lives “across the river” in Lafayette, Indiana, with 3 crazy cats ~ one of whom is her husband, James ~ artist, photographer, and renaissance man.

You can get in touch by leaving a comment below or by looking for her on Facebook or Twitter (hey ~ it could happen :-P)

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