From the Blog

Waking Up (Not The Enlightenment Kind)

The days are getting shorter, and the sun is coming up later. It kind of sucks. It was easy to wake up with the sun over the summer because we have east facing windows, and we would get beams of morning sun into our bedroom before 5 am. That seems awful early, but I really liked waking with the sun. And being awake before five in the morning made me feel all virtuous and industrious.

Now of course, the days are speedily getting shorter, and it is pitch black in the morning. Add to that the thick blanket of clouds we often have on the Oregon coast, and I sputter awake at 7 in the morning. Despite the fact that I don’t have a job to run off to, I don’t want to sleep late.

Now, I’m NOT going to do something as drastic as setting my alarm. Because that would be silly. One of the single best things about being self employed is not having to set an alarm clock. I swear, I became a more civilized, complete and fully functioning human being by NOT having to wake up to an alarm. Can you imagine how much better the world would be if we all didn’t wake up startled and super pissed off? There would be world peace in a week.

I figured waking up to a light would be more natural and relaxed. If I woke up in the middle of the night, I wouldn’t have to wonder if it was 2 am or 7 am. If the light is on, it’s time to wake up. I’m a light enough sleeper that this would probably work for me.

So I’m looking at various dawn simulators, wake up lights and happy lights. And now I’m super pissed off again. A lot of these wake up lights are stupid expensive and ugly as shit. I like the idea of the light coming on slowly for 30 minutes. But do I like it enough to want to spend $100 to $300 for a goddamned alarm clock? No. The answer to that question is no. Even if I had gobs of disposable income, I would not spend that much on an alarm clock, unless it woke me up by gently slapping me in the face with perfectly cooked french toast.

So besides silly, fugly, overpriced, stupid alarm clocks, it seems like the technology to wake up to a light must be out there. A dimmer and a timer. After a few hours of searching, there doesn’t seem to be a product that has those two technologies together. I saw lights that dim down gradually, but not ones that dim up. There are whole household control systems which have been around since the 70s that use the wiring in your walls to communicate with appliances and lights, and isn’t that begining to sound like a crappy movie plot? And then of course, I could be spending thousands of dollars instead of hundreds.

All this to avoid setting my alarm clock. Actually, I don’t even have an alarm clock. I just have a phone. I suppose I could get some tweeting bird sound to wake me up, or ocean sounds, or a babbling brook or whatever, but I know this will just result in me hating nature.

I’m not convinced I need to spend $100 or more to wake up to a light. As much as I like the idea of the gradual light, I’m pretty sure just having a regular light come on in the morning will work just fine. So all I need is a timer for $5.00. I’ll get a CFL bulb that takes a while to ramp up anyway. This solves my dainty first world problem of waking up, but not waking up pissed off.

Besides waking up like a lovely fresh flower, I am still considering “happy lights” or some other DIY home brew solution, because I could see myself getting loony and collapsing in a funk during the dark winter days. But you can bet your ass I will research the hell out of those lights first, and it will probably piss me off. So, look forward to that.


  1. I have a “Moonbeam” alarm clock:

    It’s supposed to “wake you up in a slow and calm way with a gently illuminating light.” Do not believe the hype. It wakes you by flashing an extra-strengh Maglight on and off in your face until you scream.

    Cross it off your list.


  2. Aunty Laurie says

    You’re a coffee person, set the timer on the coffee pot, and the Smell will wake you up!!! It Seriously helps my mood in the morning!!!

    • This would be a good idea, but Dave is my coffee maker. He smells pretty okay (I did marry the guy) but if he comes in to wake my up, he usually falls back asleep instead.

  3. I wish I had saved all of the alarm clocks that I’d destroyed in anger … I could have started a really funny Tumblr page!

  4. Not sure of your budget, but try this one:

    My wife got this one for me as I’ve always had trouble waking up. The slowly increasing light works and gets very bright (can be adjusted), but the real treat is the sound you wake up to. I can only describe it as a steel drum orchestra… and that starts out very quiet and slowly gets louder as well. Definitely the all-time second best way to wake up.

    • Yep. That’s the one I would want. It’s among the least ghastly looking. While employed, and pre-downsizing, I would have purchased it in an instant. Now I weigh my purchases very heavily before buying, and obsess, and wonder if it fits in my budget. It’s fun.

      Glad it’s worked for you. I keep my eye on the reviews and it helps. Thanks!

  5. after the one million time of awakening to WAH! WAH! WAH! i smashed the alarm clock enough so it ceased functioning. then i bought a clock/cd player and stuck a mellow cd in, switched it to wake to cd, and now every morning i awake to the sounds of a lovely cd called oriental sunrise. it is awesome. it starts low and gets louder, too.
    i highly recommend it. i’l even send you some spa type cds. i think i have a couple that wont make you crazy.

  6. In my experience of reading studies and listening to lectures about gentle awakening doesn’t really pan out. What you are trying to do is to trick the brain into thinking it is summer and not winter so that you are not hibernating. Get a full spectum light from Lowes or Home Depot, put it in a directional lamp like a students desk lamp, put it above you on a shelf so that the light is hitting the back bottom part of your eyes, then just read in front of it for for 10 to 3o minutes in the morning. This should help and is much cheaper than the expensive lights.

    • Awesome, Jeff thank you for your insight. This is just what I will do. I knew there had to be a work around.

      For an “alarm,” I’m just using a task lamp on a timer. So far, I’ve been waking up 10 to 15 minutes before the light goes off, which is perfect. I just want a way to know, when I open my eyes, if it’s okay to keep snoozing, or if it’s time to get up. I’m a light sleeper, and I have a harder time staying asleep (which makes it harder to get up in the morning.) Etc. I’m a nut job.

  7. Joel Taylor says

    The light that Nels posted is similar to one that I had while in Iraq, but mine had an iPod dock. I was on a night schedule and slept during the day, so my trailer’s windows were covered in aluminum foil to block out light. Having a light come on in my area of the trailer without disturbing my roommates was amazing. I could choose music (which was perfect when waking up to get ready to drive at night to Baghdad) or a variety of nature sounds (perfect for peacefully waking up earlier than the roommates when I had errands or tasks to complete).

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