Alarmed but not alert

I look around as I feel myself being dreamily lulled to the soothing lyrical strums of delicately played harps. I pinch myself and shake my head — no pearly gates; I’m definitely still in my study. Hmm, I head upstairs to identify the source.

Science tells us that the circadian rhythm of adolescents is ‘out of whack’ with the rest of us, something confirmed by the two teens under my roof. Left to their own devices (literally and figuratively unfortunately), bedtime would be somewhere between midnight and 2 am and they wouldn’t be seen until noon. Clearly this causes issues; however, one of my sons has found what he believes to be the answer — a wake-up light.


To the uninitiated, this might just sound like an alarm for the deaf, which uses light instead of noise to wake you. Such a device could be constructed quite easily at home by attaching a simple timer to a light; but no, it is far more sophisticated than that (as the $200+ price tag tries to convince me).

It’s also the source of my pearly gates experience as I discover when I reach my son’s bedroom.

What it’s doing playing to me just before lunch when no one is home but me, is a mystery, but that's not where the mysteries end:

  • The marketing literature tells us that ‘inspired by nature’s sunrise, light gradually increases within 30 minutes from soft morning red through orange until your room is filled with bright yellow light’. My husband and I scratch our heads. Why can’t he just leave his curtains and blinds open when he goes to bed?  Nature’s sunrise will do the rest.

  • Our eight year old is desperate to witness his big brother’s ‘sunrise’, but despite the fact that it apparently lasts for half an hour, this particular dawn is as elusive as a mythical beast. We suspect that my son has made good use of the fact that the device has addressed nature’s shortcomings by advocating ‘a slight tap anywhere on the wake-up light’ to set the snooze mode.

  • I still enter my son’s room at a respectable 7.15 am each morning to perform a duty supposedly rendered redundant by his wake-up light. When I enter to complete darkness, I ask what has happened to his sunrise. Every morning, I am told through mumbled sleepy tones that ‘I turned it off’. 

None of this makes any sense to us, but then adolescence doesn’t make much sense either. We are now eagerly awaiting an upgraded model which we believe will be the perfect answer — one that simulates a thunderstorm complete with rain.

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