Review: Wake-up Light

When I was a kid, I had a five-dollar alarm clock from Chinatown. It had glow in the dark numbers on the face and when it went off, it did so with such an ear-slitting screech that I felt like I was having a heart attack, and probably developed an anxiety disorder as a result.

Waking up in a panic due to a shrill alarm is hardly the only alarm clock problem going-an ideal alarm is hard to find. Your phone could easily die before morning, as can any battery-operated alarm. If you make the mistake of using your favourite song as an alarm tone, you’ll just grow to hate that song. Placing your alarm halfway across the room, forcing you to stand up, is a shade pathetic.

The Wake-up Light ($69-$169) from Philips ameliorates most of these problems. It’s an alarm clock, but it combines light with sound for a more gentle, less panic inducing wake up routine. Basically, the device’s clock face is surrounded by a light that begins turning on a half hour before your alarm is due to ring, gradually getting lighter and lighter. When the main event happens, the alarm that sounds is either birds chirping or inoffensive beeping.

I’ve been using the Wake-up Light for the past week, and it seems like light-based waking up is the way to go. Actually, a few months ago we covered a study that claims that camping will improve your sleep, owing partly to the fact that light will help you wake up. I can’t live outdoors, though, so I’m willing to substitute a light that simulates sunrise for the real thing.

There are actually ten different light settings on the Wake-up Light, going up to 200 lux. I don’t know much about measuring light, but I can safely say, after a lot of tinkering, that 200 lux is pretty damn bright in the morning; you’ll likely need less. In terms of the alarm, the gentle beeping sounds better than the birds, but truthfully, the light has always woken me up before the sound can. As a bonus, the Wake-up Light can be used as a bedside lamp.

The Wake-up Light is available at London Drugs, Centre du Rasoir, and

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