Wake up with the sunrise
As I gaze across an impossibly expansive kale-green meadow, the sky explodes with flying monkeys. I have the distinct feeling that I’m inside the tree but I’m also human. Obviously, the only thing to do is embark down the river to chase after … DAAAAAAAAA. My soul is ripped awake by the ear-piercing sound of the Marimba ringtone from my iPhone alarm clock. That was the last time I’ll be dreaming today. I can count on that.
To make matters worse, swiping my alarm clock off unearths the dark underbelly of chimes, pings, blips, and alerts that have accumulated while I innocently dreamed of babbling brooks. Before I have the chance to gently wipe the sleep from my eyes, my brain is full-force in work mode, trying to solve problems, pretty much blind, on an empty stomach, with no sense of priority.
Hate to break it to you folks – it doesn’t get any better from there.
This is the way many of us start our days, with our smart phone alarm serving as an alarm clock. If you’re like most of us, you shed the blaring, old-school, black-melded plastic alarm clock / FM radio combo years ago. You feel smart because you have Siri to wake you up, and you may even have a super-cool app that wakes you to the sweet, gentle voice of Otis Redding. There are just a few problems with this approach that you might not have considered.
First, you are sleeping with your smart phone in your room, which can lead to poor sleep, especially if you read your phone late at night.
Second – and most important – is that there is almost no way to see your notifications first thing. I don’t know about you, but I’m a recovering dopamine addict, and my iPhone was always my most reliable dealer. If you have any desire, whatsoever, to enter the day in a mindful and intentional way, you’ve just started by shooting yourself in the Facebook.
Luckily there is a simple solution. Either go back to an old $4.99 grandpa alarm clock, or do yourself one better and get a super-fancy Sunrise alarm clock.
We’ll talk more about the old-fashioned alarm clock in a minute, but first, let’s consider that fancy Sunrise alarm clock.
What is a Sunrise alarm clock?
Instead of waking up to a blaring beep, the sunrise alarm clock wakes you with a gradually brightening light designed to mimic the rising of the sun.
Here are a few of the benefits:
- Gentle start
Traditional alarms jolt you out of a deep sleep, making you feel groggy and sleepy.
- One of the best ways to get to sleep naturally
Being exposed to bright light in the morning helps to regulate your circadian rhythm so you’ll fall asleep more easily the following night.
- Supports healthy hormone levels
Melatonin goes down; normal levels of cortisol come up.\
- No more snoozing
This was a big one for me. Since I’ve started using a Sunrise alarm clock, I don’t feel the need to snooze anymore. Since the room feels like day time and my eyelids have already been exposed to sunlight, I feel awake.
A quote from some smart dudes:
Dawn simulation units mimic the gradual twilight transitions found outdoors during spring and summer. These light signals are presented to people while they are still asleep, and while their eyes are still adapted to the dark of the night. This is the point where the circadian system is most susceptible to the phase advances of gradually brightening light. The presentation of diffuse, broad-field illumination evokes an antidepressant response and helps those affected by seasonal sleep disorders to wake up normally (Terman, M., & Terman, J.S., 2005) 
For me, starting the day right was worth investing in a Sunrise alarm clock. I’ve had it for almost six months now and am thankful for it every day. I have the Philips Wake-Up Light HF3520/60 , but I’d imagine most of the models are similar.
This one is simple. Buy or borrow a dumb alarm clock … yeah, one that doesn’t talk back – and banish your phone to the living room. As you leave your phone and start walking into your room, you might feel it calling to you, crying, feeling its hold on you weakening. If you hear this silent whimper the first few nights, don’t fear. It’s not a ghost. It’s the developers from Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram, crying as their addiction cycle breaks down.
Upon waking up, take a few minutes to check in with yourself. Stretch. Ask yourself how you feel; what do you want to accomplish today? Instead of obsessively scanning your Facebook notifications, now you can do a quick morning meditation or start your morning routine. Try not to check your phone until later, once you feel fully present and part of the day.
Give yourself a little space to fully enter the day, the right way, on your own terms.