When the sun goes down, the body’s melatonin levels increase and naturally, we struggle to stay awake. Changes in seasons can make it difficult for most of us to maintain a consistent sleeping and waking schedule throughout the year. This is the body's circadian rhythm—the mental, physical and behavioral changes that occur throughout a 24-hour cycle in response to changes in light and darkness.
Luckily, we have technology in the form of dawn simulators, which can mimic the sunrise and therefore allow the body to wake up naturally with gradually increasing levels of light. Through light therapy, dawn simulators have also been found to be effective in treating seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or winter depression.
When buying a dawn simulator, there are several factors to consider:
The Amount of Light You Need
According to empirical findings, 10,000 lux is the ideal level of light intensity one should be exposed to from a dawn simulator. Lux is basically a measure of the amount of light penetrating the eye. A higher lux means more light gets through the eye. Typically, the dawn simulators on the market emit a light intensity that is much lower than the optimal 10,000 lux to awaken the body. However, look out for a daylight simulator that gives you a wide berth to adjust the light according to your specific needs.
The Color Temperature
Natural sunlight has a distinct spectrum of colors. Although these colors change as the day progresses, the changes are not very drastic so the colors remain more or less in the same spectrum. The color temperature of dawn simulators typically ranges between 4000 and 6500K but for other simulators, the temperature can become immeasurably high.
When it comes to dawn simulators, what we’re looking for is the sun’s approximate color temperature, which is about 5600K. Your dawn simulator doesn’t have to be in this range; the appropriate color temperature will largely depend on your needs. Ideally, you want a daylight simulator in the warmer color range i.e. 5600K or a little lower.
The Distance of Light
Manufacturers are yet to specify the ideal distance that you can actually receive the recommended 10,000 lux light intensity. A good dawn simulator will allow you to receive adequate light when placed at least 12 inches away from your face. You want to place your dawn simulator where it allows you to naturally and gently awaken in the morning.
The cost of dawn simulators varies widely depending on the additional features that come with it. Some of these variations in features include:
Other things to consider when selecting a dawn simulator include:
- Whether the device will be used as a bed-side lamp.
- Whether you have trouble falling asleep and waking up—some devices simulate both sunset and sunrise.
- Whether you need soothing sounds to wake up or fall asleep.
Below, we’ve reviewed for you the top three dawn simulators.
As seasons change throughout the year, light therapy products, such as dawn simulators, can help you sleep and wake up naturally so you can maintain a consistent schedule.
In addition to budget considerations, when buying a dawn simulator, look out for specific features that will meet your needs. Other important factors to bear in mind are the amount of light you need, the color temperature, and the distance of light.
All in all, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to buying dawn simulators. Your unique needs will determine the most appropriate device for you.