On (DIY) Wake-Up-Lights and Home Assistants

For thousands of years the human species woke up to the light cycle of our sun. Then we invented clocks and finally ended up with the alarm clock – a device designed to help us wake up whenever we wanted to. Cut. 21st century. We are surrounded by artifical lights that emit blue light and thus hinder our body to enter a state of relaxation. We spend longer hours awake at night, trying the best we can to fall asleep. After we finally entered the realms of our dreams, we don’t recharge as much. A phone alarm slaps our resting body out of its relaxed state back into the cold reality. Fed up with our “red alert”-like morning routine, we set the alarm half an hour before we need to leave the bed to hit the snooze button multiple times. These are desperate and depressing times. How should this misery end? Of course, with buying the latest greatest product: Wake-Up-Lights. Just kidding.

Of course, such alarm clocks can help people in cities to have a sunlight-experience. But they are huge gadgets that start with around 70 bucks, some even costing up to 200 Dollars (or Euros). It’s a luxury item and adds to the collection of things people own in their home. Most of them don’t even let you replace the lights if they are broken, contributing to the increase in soon-to-be-obsolete junk. I decided that with a lifestyle based on intentional living and minimalism, I don’t want to spend so much money on things I can build myself with the things I already own. Namely: My Amazon Echo Dot (not required), a LED-based lamp for regular outlets and a wifi-enabled smart-plug. I will also give you some ideas about how to build it with even less later on. Here’s what I did:

I set up the smart-plug to my wifi and plugged in the LED light. Since the plug is an Amazon product, I can just use the Alexa app natively with it. I set up a routine for my wake hours on weekdays. As soon as it’s 6 a.m. the lights will go on and Alexa will wake me up with a nice “Hello!”, the weather report and a quick calendar update for the day. Then I added a custom playlist with relaxing music which perfectly helps you to wake up relaxed.

It is not possible to dim the lights and automatically increase the brightness. But it gets the job done. As soon as there is light, your body will have less trouble to wake up. Just make sure it will not be a brightness-overkill directly aimed at your eyes. I’m pretty happy with the way it works and I didn’t have to spend any money compared to the 80 bucks wake-up-light alarm clock by Phillips that is advertised lately.

Of course there are other alternatives like Google Home speakers or Apple’s HomePod. You can also use a different manufacturer for wifi enabled outlets. If you want to build this yourself but you don’t own neither a home assistant nor the smart-plug, you can help yourself with one of these options:

  • Buy a smart-plug that works with just an app (like the Amazon plug does). You can set up the routine without the weather updates, … and just use your phone for the audio alarm and calm music (you probably already do)
  • You don’t need a smart-plug either. There are plugs with built in clocks (make sure it is digital and doesn’t tick all night). You could set up a light accordingly without any wifi required

And if you were just curious about the solution but initially didn’t plan on spending any money: Don’t! I didn’t either. I literally just used stuff I already owned. It’s probably not worth the money anyway. More important for your sleep is the reduction of blue light emission about an hour or two before bedtime and keeping a consistent sleep duration of at least seven hours per night. Thank you for reading, have an excellent week!

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