This illuminating alarm clock is designed to provide you with “light therapy”, helping you “keep you sleep cycle on track, boosting your mood, energy and productivity levels all day”.
It also claims to ease symptoms associated with SAD syndrome (seasonal affective disorder), which can take the form of tiredness, lack of energy and motivation, depression and over-eating, in winter months, when people don’t get as much sun. It can also, supposedly, combat jetlag. It’s worth noting that Lumie has been producing SAD lights since 1991, and supplies the NHS.
How does it work? The 13cm x 15cm x 4cm white plastic, square alarm clock has a large built-in LED lamp that can be set to come on gradually, for a 15- or 30-minute “sunrise”, at a pre-set time. You can also choose how bright you want it to be – 20 per cent to 100 per cent of its capability, although even on the lowest setting, I found the brilliant white light a real shock upon waking.
The first time I used it in the winter months, when it was still dark in the morning, upon hearing the alarm go off at 6.30am (there is only one type of beeping sound to choose from), I opened my eyes to what felt like having the FBI storm my room and shine a glaring torch in my face. It felt aggressively bright and not like a sunrise at all.
The next nights I used it, I found I slept with my back to it in fear of how it would wake me the next morning, and then resorted to putting it on the floor as opposed to having it close to my face on the bedside table. By that point, it became pretty redundant as a wake-up light as the alarm woke me up on its on and then I turned it off.
Whether or not it is effective at treating SAD syndrome or jetlag, I don’t know. All I can says is the idea of sitting facing the blinding white light for 20 to 30 minutes a day would be most unpleasant – not the warm, sunny glow you might expect to be beneficial.
I did, however, lend it to a colleague to try as well. Although he didn't hate it as much as me, he agreed that although it woke him up without the alarm coming on, when the light achieved a certain level of intensity (about 80 per cent) it became too unpleasant to have beaming into his face, at which point he too put it on the floor.
We also both agreed that it did not help our mood – making us initially feel angry at the shock of it. Not a great way to start the day and a very different outcome to what it promised.
Lumie offers the Zest with a 30-day home trial and a three-year guarantee. It is a Class IIa medical device.
PROS Will wake you up (but not in a nice way, which means it’s more of a con)
CONS Light is painfully bright, and not convinced that it would help SAD syndrome