Do Sunrise Wake Up Lights Really Work?

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So a common question is do sunrise lights really work? Now the lights and alarms themselves are simple, however first we must look at what is going on in the human body to understand how the lights work, and also how they help.

Do Sunrise Wake Up Lights Really Work

Beating those winter blues

I’m sure everyone has had that feeling and struggle of getting out of bed in the winter, the mornings, driving to work in the dark, driving home in the dark, and hardly seeing any sunlight. It can make you sad, feel tired and lack motivation, whereas in the summer you will spring out of bed in the morning, and feel active throughout the day.

How can winter mornings make you sad?

This all comes down to two things produced in the body, melatonin and serotonin. One makes you sleepy, the other makes you feel awake and feeling good, as well as being known as the happy hormone for those very reasons.

Before you go to bed and it is getting dark your body shall start to produce melatonin, the sleepy hormone, it helps prepare the body for a good nights sleep, and off to sleep you go. This process is called “dim light melatonin onset” (DLMO), so happens when going and it dark.

winter bluesSo you are sleeping and the alarm goes off at 7am, it is winter and still pitch black outside, your alarm goes off and it is dark in your room, at this moment your body is still producing melatonin because it is dark, the alarm has gone off so you know it is time to get up and be awake. As your body is still in sleep mode you feel groggy and lethargic as your body isn’t ready to get up. You go to work and when you come back it is already dark outside, so your body is again producing melatonin. This is why you can feel tired a lot of the day in the winter months.

When you are not producing melatonin you want to be producing serotonin, if we go through our example again but in the summer this is what happens. You are sleeping and then the alarm goes off at 7am, you may already be awake, the sun is shining through the curtains and you get up. You body will be aware of the light coming through the curtains, if the sun rises at 5.30am your body will start to reduce the amount of melatonin and then start producing serotonin, you may have noticed that in the summer you will wake up a lot earlier than your alarm is set to go off, you may have even bought black out blinds to help prevent this.

When you get up you will feel more awake, fresher, no feelings of grogginess, your body has gently woken you up as the sun come through the curtains, in the summer it maybe light till 9pm, you may not start to feel sleepy till 10px when it becomes dark.

The difference here between the summer and winter months is that in the winter your body is producing more melatonin (the sleep hormone) than the feel good serotonin hormone, where as in the summer this is reversed due to the longer sunlight hours.

Sunrise Wake Up Lights

As you can see the key is to have a good sleep pattern where you are producing more serotonin in the morning to help you get up. This is where a sunrise wake up light can help. This is a light alarm, which will slowly brighten up the room over a 20 to 40 minute period recreating the sunrise you may get in the summer. Using the example before your alarm goes off at 7am, using a sunrise alarm clock it would start to light up at around 6.30am, a very dim light, over the next 30 minutes it will get bright and brighter, by 7am when you want to get up the light shall be at its brightest. By doing this it helps to stop your body producing the sleep hormone and to start waking you up ready for the day. Instead of waking up to a beeping sound in a dark room, the light will brighten up the room for you.

Do Sunrise Wake Up Lights Really Work?

So back to the original question of ‘Do Sunrise Wake Up Lights Really Work?‘ Well in my first hand experience they do, and based on Amazon customer reviews there are a lot of people that agree.

In the summer months I would always wake up early due to having the sun shining through my window, because of this I bought a black out blind and made the room pitch black, even though it was bright sunshine outside. I was getting more sleep yet still feeling groggy. Of course in the winter it was no better if not worse as it was pretty much dark most the day.

So I got a sunrise wake up alarm and it made a huge difference, I wake up at the same time every day and feel great, I don’t even need an alarm sound to wake me up I just naturally wake up to the light. So yes they really do work.

It must be said it took a couples of weeks before I felt confidant about turning the alarm sound off as I got use to waking up the light and also making sure the brightness was set high enough that it would wake me up.

I found that if I was lying facing the light when it was getting brighter I may wake up a little bit earlier, whereas I would need the light to be at its brightest if I was facing away from it while sleeping.

If you struggle getting up int he winter, or have early morning starts then a sunrise wake up light will certainly help.


  1. Edvin Berggren

    Amazing product, it took my productivity goals to another level by allowing me to wake up earlier.

    Will definitely recommend this one!

  2. Tammi L. Coles

    Having to set the alarm each day seems terribly frustrating in this age of smart systems. But I cannot find among the products listed here one that goes on and off daily at a set time. Think “set it and forget it.”

    Am I missing something or is the market still evolving for such a product?


    I have bought the Philips light but haven’t unpacked it yet because I have one question I haven’t seen answered anywhere. How does this work when you have 2 people in the room with different wakeup times. For example I get up at 5:30 whereas my husband sleeps to 6. I have seen great results by sleepy sleepers like me but nothing from their spouses.

    • Tom Clark

      It will have an effect on both, your husband will certainly start to wake and his body prepare for the day, so he may start to wake up earlier than 5.30, how long did you intend to have the wake up light to brighten? You could shorten this to help him, but it may have a negative effect for you.

  4. Sarah

    Can you send it for two different times? I work shift work so I set alarms for working dayshift and another for working night shift, or do I have to set it every time depending on which shift I am working?

    • Tom Clark

      On most of the sunrise alarms you can set multiple alarms and turn them on and off when needed.


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