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The Wake-Up Light That Will Get You Out of Bed When Nothing Else Can

Sarah Rense
Photo credit: Timothy Mulcare

From Esquire

Buy $220, amazon.com; philips.com

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I forgot to set my Philips Wake-up light last night, which means I woke up this morning a great deal grumpier, groggier, and generally disgruntled than normal. I, like much of the adult human population, have never once willingly woken to my alarm and happily jumped from bed to greet a new day. Hell, no. I snooze and snooze and snooze, and when that fails, threaten myself and call myself mean names until I finally sit upright. A wake-up light from Philips did not magically make me into a morning person (although, if there's a product sitting on a store shelf somewhere with this power, it can have all of my money). I still have to set my phone alarm. But it made me hate waking up less. Short of a miracle, that's the best I (and my melatonin glands) can hope for.

You'll wake up and fall asleep a lot more easily with light.

If you aren't familiar with Philips' wake-up lights, this is the basic concept: They combine an alarm clock with low-key light therapy to mimic a sunrise on your nightstand, gradually glowing stronger and stronger in the minutes leading up to your wake-up time. Despite our deeply screwed sleep schedules that twist to accommodate late-night news binges, early-morning work emails, and, you know, fun things too, we humans are biologically inclined to wake up with the sun. But I don't have to wake up as early as the actual sunrise, and besides, I have a heavy curtain across my only window to block out train noise, and thus natural light. So putting an electronic sunrise with programmable hues from deep orange to brilliant yellow near my bed is the next-best thing. Plus, I can control it a whole lot better than I can the sun.

I also use my Philips Wake-up light to do the reverse: fall asleep. I have it on a 15-minute timer that starts with a bright yellow light, fades to a fiery red, and then eases into blackness, which I finds helps calm me down so I can drift off—a feat nearly as hard as waking up.

Buy $220, amazon.com; philips.com

Photo credit: Timothy Mulcare

There are additional alarm options, if light alone won't cut it.

Light isn't the only thing you're getting with this device. In the latest model that we have here, the Philips SmartSleep Connected Sleep and Wake-up Light (HF3670/60), there are eight very pleasant sounds you can program to start softly and increase in volume as the light brightens; definitely check out "cows from the Alps." I personally have my light (which is the older, cheaper, and smaller Philips HF3520/60 model) programmed to starting playing FM radio, so I wake up to a glowing orb and NPR. For dire cases, the latest model will also force you out of bed with PowerWake, which is a super-loud alarm and a super-bright flashing light. There's a nightlight function, too, and four different types of sunrises to pick from. Who knew you would prefer "Caribbean red" sunrise over a "Nordic white" sunrise?

Photo credit: Timothy Mulcare

It's not just a glowing alarm clock.

This Philips Wake-Up light comes with a slew of other features, too. It'll charge your phone. It'll play music from your phone via an AUX connection. It'll track the humidity, light, temperature, and noise in your bedroom, letting you know if one (or all) could be improved. It'll take you through light-guided breath training, if you feel like being extra mindful about falling asleep. And for the über-connected among us, this smartphone-enabled model has an app from Philips, where you can really get finicky with the settings.

Even if you still need a phone alarm, FM radio, and a bucket of ice water dumped on your head, Philips' wake-up light makes it all hurt less. For the morning-challenged, that's priceless.

Buy $220, amazon.com; philips.com

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