How to Set and Use Your Wake Up Light

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Wake up lights are a relatively recent breakthrough to the sleep improvement market, leaving many people who see these types of alarms wondering how to use a wake up light. It’s actually quite easy once you know a little bit about what a wake up light alarm is and how it works!

Learning to use a wake up light alarm might change your life completely! I highly recommend trying out one of these wake up lights because of how they can improve your mornings and help you wake up in a better mood with more energy. If you have already gotten one or are interested in how they work, check out what I’ve written below to see how to use a wake up light.

How to Set and Use Your Wake Up Light

How Do Wake Up Lights Work?

The basic concept of a wake up light is that sometime about 20 – 60 minutes before your set alarm time the clock light will turn on and gradually increase in brightness. This mimics a sunrise and gets your body more naturally into a lighter sleep state.

Normally we wake up from deeper sleep states if we rely only on sound-based alarms, so by allowing your body to naturally get into a lighter state of sleep you are giving yourself an advantage in the morning by reducing wake up times.

Some wake up lights are colored to more closely resemble an actual sunrise, but most are a plain white or yellow light being cast from a gradually brighter bulb.

How Do I Set My Wake Up Light Alarm?

There are generally only two things you can adjust on the wake up light: the brightness and the time it takes to get to full brightness. The light turning on depends on what time you have set the alarm for, but you can also change how early you want the light to turn on and how gradually it should increase on most wake up lights.

Adjusting the time until full brightness can help you if you have light sensitivity problems or if you want to get as much asleep before your alarm as possible. Many people prefer 30 minutes for their wake up lights, a similar amount of time to a real sunrise. This is the standard setting on most wake up lights, some of which cannot be adjusted in this way.

Brightness levels are adjustable on nearly every wake up light alarm clock. If you find the full brightness too bright for your morning you may adjust it to a lower level to spare your eyes and make your mornings a bit better for your preferences. This will not affect the time it takes to reach full brightness, as the wake up light will adjust accordingly.

What Time Should I Set the Alarm to Turn On?

You have to remember that the light itself turns on before your actual alarm time. If your wake up light is set to take 30 minutes to full brightness, it will turn on at the lowest brightness 30 minutes before your set alarm time.

As an example, if you set your alarm for 7AM, the light will turn on at the lowest level at 6:30AM and gradually build up until it reaches full brightness around 7AM. If this does not wake you up before your alarm time, there will be a noise emitted from the alarm to finish waking you up.

A lot of wake up light users like to experiment with these alarms when they first get them. Sometimes you might find the light wakes you up long before your alarm goes off, which may or may not be preferable to you. In some cases, you might find that you will need to adjust your alarm time if you keep waking up before your alarm by a lot.

Always begin by setting your alarm for your regular time when you first use a wake up light, just in case you don’t wake up before the alarm. It’s better to be safe than to be sorry if when it comes to waking up on time!

You might choose to turn alarm chimes off down the road as you use the wake up light, but I would recommend leaving them on for the first month or so until you get the hang out how you wake up when you use this type of alarm.

Pro Tips for Using a Wake Up Light

Want to learn to use your wake up light even better? Here are a few great tips to get you on your way to the perfect morning wake up:

1. Use blackout curtains and other darkness-enhancing products

This alarm clock operates by gradually turning on a light. Instead of leaving your curtains open or allowing any light source in during the night or day, you can choose to black out the room entirely. This helps a lot of people to sleep more easily and to stay asleep, away from any distractions.

The light works perfectly in a darker environment, lighting it up completely as if the sunrise was happening right there in the room with you.

2. Don’t point it directly at your head

A lot of people do not trust wake up lights to work on them as an alarm, so they set them up on their nightstands pointing directly at their heads in bed. This is not really a good idea, as you don’t really want to temporarily blind yourself first thing in the morning! Remember that at full brightness a wake up light is supposed to resemble the risen sun.

Just as you wouldn’t usually prefer to have a face full of bright sunshine in your eyes just as you’re waking up, it’s probably best to point the wake up light away from your face or keep it a little farther away from you. It will still do its job and wake up you as it’s supposed to because it will fill your entire room with light.

3. Position it for maximum impact in your room

Some places in your room might be more efficient for spreading and reflecting the light than other places. It all depends on how much light you need to help you wake up completely. You might want to pointing in your direction while someone else would prefer it to be pointing away from them and filling the room with ambient light instead.

Figure this out on a trial and error basis to see what you actually like and what you don’t. It could mean the difference between you enjoying your wake up or hating it!

4. Get your partner a sleeping mask if waking up at different times

I don’t know about you, but if there is light in the room I feel the urge to wake up and cannot easily fall asleep again. For this reason, I would recommend that if you and your partner are waking up at different times the one with the later wake up should wear a sleep mask to keep from waking up too early.

Not everyone will like this idea, so unfortunately there may have to be some other compromise that you decide on for yourselves if you or your partner are not comfortable wearing a sleeping mask.


Wake up lights are very simple to use if you know just a little bit about them before you turn it on for the first time. You can trust this light more than you think, so don’t be shy about setting it for the proper wake up time and letting it help you wake up in a better state of mind!

Do you feel like you can now go out and use a wake up light without any problems? Is there anything else you think should be added to this information? Let me know in the comments below!


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