Looking for Light

Winter has always been hard for me. I love light, waking at dawn to quiet illumination. I love long golden evenings, the sun setting on the tawny landscape of the valley where I live. The 5:30 a.m. blare of an alarm intruding on sleep-in-darkness irks me. My body resists the call to arise into the chill air of a tired black morning. Driving home in the dark, avoiding ice and snow, is wearing. I want to be up with the sun, whenever the sun arises.

About a year and half ago, I bought myself one of those alarm clocks that simulates dawn. It was a little one, with a clock radio paired with it, a little pricey compared to a plain radio alarm clock, but worth it, I thought, if it made waking easier. It was worthless. The light was too dim to wake me, and the radio quality was so poor it was unusable. After a few weeks of sleeping through the light and waking to static, I gave up and tossed it. In the meantime I’d done a little web research and discovered that others had the same problem as I did with that particular model, but that those others had gone on to purchase a bigger product from a different company, and they were happy with it. So I did the same, ordered my BioBrite dawn simulator and waited for it to arrive. When it did, I set it up, set the alarm, and waited for the next morning. The light came on gradually, and woke me eventually to a room filled with light. A few moments later, after I had showered and was getting dressed, the back-up beep went off, a horrendous sound that would have woken me if the light hadn’t — but in a foul mood. After a few mornings in which I woke unfailingly to the glow of what to my body appeared to be sunrise, I switched off the beep, and for more than a year have enjoyed waking the way my body wants me too. Even when I’m exhausted, the light coaxes me out of sleep, and I find myself wide-eyed at some time between 5:40 and 5:45.

Then, a week or so ago, the light didn’t come on. I didn’t wake till almost time to be in class, and I thought I’d slept through it. I was horrified, especially since Zeke’s friend was staying with us and I had to apologize for almost getting her late to class. The next morning I set the backup radio, and it woke me. The light hadn’t come on on my BioBrite. Assuming the bulb was out, I emailed the company and discovered that I could replace it with a common candalabra bulb. I did, and nothing worked. Now I’m waiting to hear back from the company. I ordered a floor lamp from them just a few days ago, and I’m ready to cancel the order if they don’t help me out. If they tell me the $130 light is out of warranty and unfixable, I’m going to be furious. (See The Story of Stuff for why, apart from the sheer cost in dollars to me.) But the email the guy sent about replacing the light bulb was friendly and funny — even if it did take him two days to respond, and I hope the company is a good one, one that I can endorse. The product is great, but only if it lasts longer than just over a year!

In the meantime, I’m back to waking to an angry alarm clock, hauling my grumpy self out of bed, and cursing the winter. Gads, life can be so frustrating sometimes. (I’ll update you re the company response, if you’re interested.)

2 responses to “Looking for Light

  1. Hope the company responds in a helpful manner and that you can go back to what sounds like a optimal way to wake up.

    Recently I’ve begun to use 100 mg of caffeine upon awakening to a beeping, battery-operated alarm clock at 4 a.m. and another 100 mg before noon when I start to get so drowsy that I want to take a nap. It seems to take the edge off of that grumpy feeling.

    For most of my life, I’ve not used caffeine. In fact, I didn’t drink any coffee until I was 30 years old. It helped me stay awake and alert during the two years I was finishing my B.A. in English Literature. At the end of that two years, though, I had a chronically upset stomach and stopped all caffeine use until about a month ago when I was getting reading to take classes again.

    This time I’m limiting my caffeine intake to 200 mg a day (approximately 2 cups). So far, so good. My outlook on life also improves when I use caffeine. I wish I were someone with a naturally bright outlook. Or that falling asleep in the middle of the day and needing at least 9 hours of sleep at night didn’t limit the hours I have available to do what I need to do and love to do each day.

  2. I hope this is fixable for you. It sounds like such a great product. Made me wonder about those inexpensive timer things you put into an outlet, to which you plug in a lamp, and then set it to turn the lamp on. Of course, that would not have the lovely gradual increase of light — would just be a sudden “on”. Otherwise, I’m very much with you on wanting desperately to be able to rise naturally with the sun. I do have the luxury of being able to do that with my schedule, even in winter, but obnoxious parking lot lights mean I must go to bed with my windows heavily draped and so cannot receive the dawn’s light. Guess I need an automatic timer for drape-opening!
    I’ll be trying to get caught up on your posts now — have missed reading your words.

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