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