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Benefits of Sunrise Natural Alarm Clocks/Dawn Simulators
05.07.10

Using a Sunrise Natural Alarm Clock/Dawn Simulator alarm clocks is an easy and effective way to improve your overall health.

A gradually increasing light, or a "simulated dawn," can help you wake up in a gradual, gentle way. Scientific studies have shown that waking to a simulated dawn may help people feel more refreshed and wake in a better mood. The body is very sensitive to light in the early morning and therefore responds to fairly dim levels of light even through closed eyelids. Humans evolved to wake to the sun, so it is thought that the gradually increasing light sends the body the message that it is time to wake. This happens gently and naturally, a great improvement over the jarring sound that most alarms use. Using a dawn simulator such as the SunRise Clock means that you wake up in a lighted room - a great benefit to early risers and shift workers.

Fight or Flight - The Dreaded Rude Awakening 

Our inability to awaken in today's darkened bedroom created the need for an alarm clock. Perhaps the person responsible for inventing this device, which in its time fulfilled a genuine need, recognized the value of roosters crowing at daybreak, and attempted to emulate the sound. Ergo: the blaring, buzzing, dreaded alarm clock. The rude awakenings in modern life certainly contribute to the daily stress we face. More importantly, this type of awakening may fail to support our delicate and complex body systems.  Perhaps the worst side-effect of an alarm clock is that in some people it can stimulate the fight-or-flight human defense mechanism. Since human beings are biologically programmed to wake up to sunlight, audio awakening devices seem diametrically opposed to our biological needs.  Audio devices of any kind trigger a response of sudden wakefulness; that is, a quick and disturbing rush of adrenalin. Our body reacts by sending the appropriate fight-or-flight chemicals into our bloodstreams. This prepares our body mechanisms to fight or run away. There is no need for such chemicals to be surging in our bloodstream at this time of day, as there's nothing to fight, nothing from which to run. Nevertheless, we awaken each morning physically and emotionally armed for battle.

Circadian Rhythms

While we may be unaware of our body's circadian rhythms, these cycles are responsible for controlling many aspects of our daily lives, including sleep cycles. Circadian rhythm, derived from the Latin, means simply "about a day," or our daily rhythms. In studies of recent years, circadian rhythms have been demonstrated to have an effect on who may get cancer, when medical treatments are best administered, as well as who will get pregnant and when.  In relation to sleep and wakefulness, researchers in the field of circadian rhythms have discovered that differing amounts of light trigger the human body to produce various hormones. These hormones control when we fall asleep and when we wake up.

Serotonin and Melatonin

The hormone serotonin, which is induced by light, wakes and energizes; whereas melatonin, induced by darkness, puts us to sleep. Both are naturally occurring hormones whose production is controlled by the pineal, a gland deep in the center of the brain termed by Descartes as "the seat of the soul."  When the eye, even with eyelids closed, perceives specific levels of light, the brain's pineal gland triggers the production of certain hormones. An increased level of light triggers the production of serotonin, causing the human body to awaken. At the other end of the circadian scale, the pineal gland, in response to darkness, triggers the production of the hormone melatonin. This is what causes us to fall asleep.  Melatonin, the darkness-induced hormone, can now be taken in pill form.  Synthetic and natural supplements of melatonin are available at many retail stores. Its safety, however, is still being debated.  Conversely to melatonin, artificially produced serotonin cannot be utilized by the body and is completely ineffective. The human brain's blood barrier does not allow synthetically or naturally produced substitutes for the hormone serotonin to enter or be utilized by our brains.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Much of this research information has resulted from experimental light therapy utilized in the treating of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is the seasonal light deprivation syndrome from which scores of people genuinely suffer, particularly in the extreme northern and southern hemispheres. This syndrome, while admittedly focused on a small portion of the population, has nevertheless shown, in its extreme, exactly what deleterious effect the lack of strong-enough light can have on human beings. Professionally calibrated and monitored light therapy has been shown to have highly positive results for these sufferers.  It has been estimated that SAD affects about six percent of the American population. In Florida less than two percent suffer, whereas along the Canadian border, up to ten percent are affected. Although the population in general does not suffer from the debilitating effect of light deprivation syndrome, most of us share some of the symptoms in milder form, particularly in winter, and especially when light is at its weakest and shortest. Lack of energy, difficulty in waking up and mild depression are among these.  While light therapy is the most effective way to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder and to feel better during seasons of long dark hours, light is also the safest and most effective way to wake up feeling refreshed and energized.

The Internal Alarm Clock

A very important difference between audio awakening and retinal-visual awakening is that the latter actually "sets" our biological clock for awakening. The time one wakes up today, by light, is the time the brain and body are now programmed to awaken tomorrow. The audio-awakening stimulus has no biological or chemical capacity for such programming, so it must be repeated morning after morning. Some people get into a simple habit of awakening at a certain time of day, but most don't. Audio stimulation must be repeated each and every morning.  Once a pattern is established with light-stimulated waking, one is more able to wake up at a regular time which has been set by retina-triggered serotonin, regardless of whether the Sun Alarm is used every morning.

Why Sun Alarm Dawn Simulators Work

With the low levels of light utilized in dawn simulation devices, one might wonder how it can be possible to actually wake up to it. The answer lies in the fact that human eyes are ultra-sensitive to light in the early morning. As a result of having been in darkness all night long, they are able to perceive and register even the smallest amounts of light.  When our eyes detect this increased level of light, a signal is sent to the brain's pineal gland. The pineal then triggers the production of the hormone serotonin, which causes us to slowly awaken. This natural method of waking leaves us feeling refreshed and energized.

 

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