Annabel Fitzsimmons: Meditating Mummy


Philips Wake-Up Light Plus

Putting the light alarm to the test

I’m generally a morning person. I do my best thinking and writing in the mornings. I love the freshness of the new day. I love the feeling of outdoor early morning runs or a yoga practice to energize my body in the quiet before the city awakes.

One problem: come winter, I hate waking up. So, when I was asked to try out the Philips Wake-Up Light Plus I was genuinely excited.

In the summer, I have loads of morning energy and getting out of bed is easy. But when it’s dark and cold out, there are usually a few minutes between the time the alarm clock goes off and me getting out of bed that I press snooze, dive back under the duvet, ignore the morning news on the radio, and give myself a half-hearted pep talk to get into the day. Once I’m upright with my feet on the ground I’m fine, but getting there can be a battle.

So the idea of a new tool to help ease the pain of getting up on those dark mornings was welcome news. I didn’t know much about the Wake-Up Light Plus except that it is supposed to wake you up naturally by simulating the sunrise. I have a couple of clients who have raved about similar alarm clocks but I had never tried one. And since we’re heading into winter and the mornings are only going to get darker, I figured now was a perfect time to try it out.

The lamp/alarm clock arrived. Now, I am not the most technologically advanced person - I also don’t like reading instruction booklets so I usually defer to my husband when it comes to setting up new electronics in our home - but I knew that if I was to really test the product properly I needed to understand what it can and can’t do. For all the options it offers, it is straightforward and intuitive to use. And after figuring out that I could wake up to birds chirping, soothing yoga music, the radio, or any number of musical options through the USB port, I started to get excited about waking up over the course of the coming week.

And that’s where motherhood – as it is wont to do - threw a little wrench in my plans. I set the alarm for my usual time, but for the next 7 days my 20-month old started waking up exactly 30 minutes before the alarm was supposed to go off. And not just waking up, but waking up screaming because he was cutting three new teeth. Every morning I tried to set the alarm just a little bit earlier but every morning, my little guy beat the alarm clock by half an hour. So on the week that I had looked forward to waking up naturally to a simulated sunrise and a peaceful yoga soundtrack, I was instead awoken abruptly by my son’s cries. Natural, too, I suppose. But far less calming.

Finally, ten days after the lamp arrived, I set the alarm again with the yoga music option and went to bed hoping to try the darn thing. And I indeed found myself awoken not to the sounds of my 20-month old, but to gentle music and a soft light. I don’t know whether I was happy because I had finally been able to use the alarm clock or whether it was because my body felt like it had woken up naturally. Luckily I was able to continue using it so I have been able to differentiate between the two.

Aside from learning that it’s much more pleasant waking up to a simulated sunrise than the screams of a teething child, I’ve also discovered that I prefer the sound of birds or the yoga music to the option of the radio. (My old alarm clock was either radio or that really unnatural and disturbing buzzer noise.) Pressing snooze is really easy on the alarm clock – you just tap anywhere on the lamp – but the lamp stays on so it’s just the audio that you have a break from. I also like the option that you can simulate dusk as you go to bed at night, although I prefer to read in bed so I’ve just been using it as a lamp. (Also, because it acts as a lamp and alarm clock, I have more room for my books on my bedside table). And, for those moms with teenagers who sleep in, there are two alarm clock settings so you can set a weekday and a weekend wake-up time. (But as the mom of two kids under five, it’ll be a while until I’m able to use that option…)

Being a yoga teacher, I’m all about being in tune with the body and I have definitely noticed a difference in the way I start my mornings with this lamp. It gives me a headstart of calmness to the day, often needed when trying to get a toddler and a kindergartener fed, dressed and out the door before 8:30am. While I have never been diagnosed with SAD (seasonal affective disorder) or, as it is also known, “the winter blues”, I definitely notice a difference in my get-up-and-go during winter as opposed to summer. Here’s hoping this new way of waking up will continue to give me a little extra energy in my day.  At least until one of my children get me up before the alarm clock does.

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