Recommend a dawn simulator alarm clock

Inspired by this thread:"dawn+simulator" (See post #35)

This time of year, it is still dark when I have to get up for work, which is very difficult for me to do. Does anybody else have one of these alarm clocks, and how much do you think it helps you to wake up when it is still dark outside?

I’m not going to be able to help with the dawn simulator thing, but I will tell you how I set my alarm (work starts at 2230). My alarm is a clock/radio with two individual alarms. First I set the regular buzzer, then I set the radio alarm to static at high volume fifteen minutes later. A similar setup should shock you out of bed, if nothing else. ETA: it makes my cats leap off the bed and bolt into the living room, which is pretty funny if I am awake enough to notice.

The only time this has failed me is for shifts starting at 0300, when I would turn both alarms off in my sleep. Then I had to move the clock across the bedroom. Starting work at three in the morning is a misery I hope to never again experience; I have no idea why it is worse than regular graveyard.

I bought one for my husband from one of those catalogs aimed at people with more money than sense, Hammacher Schlemmer (yes, I’m mocking myself here, mainly). It’s supposed to wake you up using a combination of three things:

[li]a light, that gradually gets brighter over about a half-hour.[/li][li]“scent therapy” in the form of beads that release scent as they’re warmed up by the gradually increasing light.[/li][li]a collection of sounds that gradually get louder as the light does. You can choose from several nature-based ones, like ocean waves or rainforest or whatnot.[/li][/ul]

It’s not worth the money. First, the clock’s numbers are illuminated in green, which (IMO) is the worst color for an alarm clock - it’s too bright at night for me, so we have it turned a weird way so it doesn’t bother me. (Plus, I’m an astronomy nerd, and any light but red ruins your night vision.)

Second, the scent beads are hooey, total hooey. SpouseO never tried them because the ones they send smell…well, they’re not to our taste. Not even the coffee one. (Of course, you can always purchase other ones, exclusively at H-S! :rolleyes:) Plus, I think the little tray thing they sit in would just get goopy as they were warmed, but maybe they’re only activated by the lightbulb’s warmth and don’t actually melt. I don’t know, we’ve never used them.

Third, the nature sounds are fine, but I and SpouseO prefer to wake up to the radio, so the lack of a regular radio option bugs me. But I guess that plain old FM wouldn’t fit with the crunchy granola-ness of the scent option. I think my husband used to use the nature sounds as a sort of alarm noise (and it’s rather weird hearing crickets at 6 AM in January in Minneapolis, let me tell ya), but he’s since turned them off.

The worst “feature”, however, is the screeching alarm that sounds about 20-30 minutes after the light’s reached its full brightness. I understand the purpose - after all, it’s an alarm clock whose whole reason for being is to wake you up - but it’s loud and piercing. (The exact opposite of what they’re trying to sell you with the clock, BTW.) My husband *hates *getting up in the morning (don’t we all, really?), which is why he wanted a clock like this one in the first place - he thought it’d be a more gradual way of waking up, instead of being jolted out of a sound sleep by a radio. The alarm totally defeats that. Granted, he’s not using the clock probably as they intended, what with skipping the scents and sounds and all, gut it’s really jarring.

On the plus side, the light is bright enough. It’s not enough to illuminate a whole room, by any means, but you could read by it even before it gets to full brightness. And it the gradual way it increases is nice. I’m a light sleeper, and would wake up when it first turned on at its dimmest setting when we first got the thing. Now, a couple of years later, it’s still enough to wake me before my alarm goes off (tho’ that happens less and less - he gets up after I do, so I’m not certain that it even comes on before I’m already up and off to the shower.) Unfortunately, my husband’s a deeper sleeper than I am, and I’m not certain that the light alone is enough to wake him up. Hence his hatred for the blaring alarm which is only supposed to be a fail-safe instead of the main “get out of bed, you!” signal.

Since he’s now working for himself, though, there’s been fewer and fewer mornings that the alarm’s gone off. (At his last job, this happened usually daily. He’s less stressed now. Different stresses, but these are good ones.)

So. To sum up, it’s a good idea, imperfectly executed (at least for my husband). I recommend looking for one that works differently: keep the light (because that’s the most important), lose the scents, look for the option of using a radio as a noise alarm, and maybe keep the fail-safe. (because, let’s face it, for a while there that was the only thing getting my husband out of bed). As a bonus, look for one with red numbers. I **do **think that there’s clocks like this out there - I remember seeing rumors of their existence when I was researching this clock a couple of years ago, but could never find a full-size one to buy anywhere. Everyone was either out of stock or hopelessly expensive. (There were smaller versions that didn’t seem like they’d be sufficient.) Hopefully you’ll have better luck or the market’s more developed now.

Sorry about the length!

Go to the security section of your local department store and get one of those timer thingies for $12. You plug it into the wall and it turns on the lamp at the time you set. They are intended to produce the illusion that someone is at home and moving about the house.

Many of them have two settings, so you can set two lamps and have the room brighten.

Be sure to get the digital, the mechanical ones make a ticking noise.

This worked like a charm for me back when I had insomnia. I had one 60 watt bulb and one 300 watt halogen, set 20 minutes apart. I would usually wake up five minutes before the halogen came on.

I did like TruCelt and got a vacation timer and set it to turn on a lamp in the corner of my bedroom 20 minutes before my alarm goes off. Sometimes just the lamp turning on wakes me up, sometimes not. Either way when I wake up and the lamp is on my brain says “Dawn”. It really does make it easier to get out of bed.

I completely recommend the Hammacher-Schlemmer clock panned above. We have no problems with it other than the slightly obscure controls and it generally wakes us with light before the sound goes off (we don’t use the scent). It’s lasted longer than any alarm clock we’ve had. Set it so the light starts to come on half an hour before you intend to get up. This lights gradually, followed by the sound of your choice (I’d much rather have tweeting than some FM radio guy shrieking about low, low prices!), and later, if you haven’t gotten up, a very loud alarm. We have never slept through to the loud alarm stage.