“Picture a very different landscape to the modern, electronic one you’re currently inhabiting,” says Tony Riddle (www.tonyriddle.com), Natural Lifestyle Coach and professional hacker of sleep in the modern world, “you’re in an ancient landscape and you’re sheltering from the elements in a cave. You make a small fire to avoid highlighting your position to predators, but large enough to keep you warm and calm, until you fall asleep and the cave falls into darkness. You are awoken by the the sun as it comes up and brings with it the light to illuminate your cave, and you move to the cave opening to fully wake up by the light of the morning sun. Sounds pretty awesome and romantic, right?
Now let’s flip it.
You have fallen asleep in your little cave, when you are jolted awake to the tremendous roar of a lion. You are startled, alert – and your survival system, our natural protection system, is instantly triggered – your cortisol levels rise, your body directs blood away from your digestive system to your limbs, and you prepare to either fight or run for your life. This protection system is known as the fight and flight response. From an evolutionary perspective, starting your day by being woken in darkness to the jarring chide of your smartphone – the way millions of us do every weekday – is the modern equivalent of being woken in the pitch black by a lion. With flashing eyes…”
When put this way, it’s really not surprising we’re all walking around groggy, grumpy, in need of caffeinating and with our hormones all a little wonky. Because we may have come a long way technologically as a race, but our bodies remain primal and cannot tell the difference between being woken by a predator and being woken by the daily call that signals work. In the same way, human beings are still dependent on the sun to influence our sleep and our health. ‘This system’ says Tony ‘is called our circadian rhythm and is still operating on ancient time. But as modern lighting is quite a novel phenomena, we must be more aware of the effects artificial daylight spectrums are having on our circadian rhythm. Having our houses alight with artificial blue light in the evening has profoundly negative effects on our sleep as it inhibits melatonin production, and we need melatonin for nourishing, deep sleep. This results in a chemical cascade and can lead to a plethora of cellular and digestive issues and diseases, disrupted hormones and compromised immune health.’
But we’re not confined to a devolution of ill healthy and bleary-eyed grumpiness; we just need to get a little smarter and make our lighting work for us, not against us. The Philips Wake-up Light is a game-changer in helping to bridge the gap between nature and the modern world and keep the artificial-eyed lion from your bedroom. As Tony says, ‘we can manipulate our lighting to mimic the natural circadian rhythm which will bring hugely positive affects on our sleep, cellular, digestive, hormonal and immune health and functions. In the morning, we just need an abundance of light to mimic daylight, to create an artificial dawn’
Indeed, we don’t all have the luxury of waking with the sunrise, but the Philips Wake-up light therapy enables you to continue with the demands and routines of modern life whilst nurturing your circadian rhythm, which allows deeper sleep and less hormone disruption, and in turn, more energy throughout the day.
The Light’s sunrise simulation, which flows through a nature-inspired spectrum of red, orange and yellow, stimulates your body to begin to rouse naturally until you awaken to a room full of melatonin-boosting, energising light. ‘Early light exposure releases the melatonin that was needed for deep healing anabolic sleep and helps regulate stress hormones, therefore supporting a healthy cortisol response throughout the entire day and enabling your happy hormones to go to work.’ The Light can store two separate alarms, allowing you to load a weekday and weekend wake-up time, and if you do fancy another few minutes in nod before you commit to rising, a swift tap to the top of the light sets the ‘snooze’ function.
To ensure you’re properly woken in time for work, the light is coupled with a choice of five natural wake-up sounds including birdsong and sea waves (or FM radio) which increase gently in volume to replace the shock of your cortisol-raising, callous phone alarm.
For a set time period before bed (you can choose 30, 45 or 60 minutes), the Light runs through a sunset simulation from yellow to red light before slowly turning off to lull you into restful sleep, thus reducing the hormone-disrupting blue light your usual bedside lamp emits at night, allowing your body to produce melatonin for a deep and healing slumber (this of course, is only effective when you also refrain from shining the light of your smartphone screen into your eyes before bed while you indulge in just…one…more…scroll…). This also relieves you of having to disrupt yourself after settling down with having to sit up and switch off the light.
Overall, for its light spectrum and natural-sounding alarm tones alone, the Philips Wake-up Light does an excellent job of taking you back to that ancient cave, free of lions, for that coveted calm and romantic start to the day.
words by Rachel Bednarski – @rachelonendorphins