Sleeping Better with Smart Lighting: Smarter “Go to Bed” and “Wake Up”

Siri Falling Asleep with Smart Lighting

We spend 36% of our lives asleep, and while the average sleep period has decreased over the last 60 years, neuroscience is discovering more and more how important sleep is for our well-being. Can smart lighting help us to sleep better and wake up more energized?

For a general introduction to smart lighting, see: Introduction to Smart Lighting: A Very Brief History of Light.

Why do we sleep?

Amongst many theories which are heavily debated, there seem to be some no-brainers: We restore our brains during sleep, clearing out the waste which has accumulated over the day between our brain cells. We save energy during our rest, and last but definitely not least, we are consolidating what we have learned throughout the day and become more creative.

Our body-clock works independently from our work-schedules and sleep deprivation is nowadays a common phenomenon in huge parts of our society, leading to accidents due to fatigue.

Smart Lighting and Sleep

With smart lighting, we can finally support the process of falling asleep and waking up, making up for the sleep-damage the dumb light bulbs in our homes have created over the past century. Light is deeply connected with our body-clock. Reducing our exposure to light for at least half an hour before going to bed will make us feel tired. Increasing light in the morning will make us feel more energized for the day.

There are many ways to configure wake up and good night routines with smart lighting. Let’s examine those options with Philips Hue to schedule routines for going to bed and getting out of bed more easily, supporting a healthy sleep.

Philips Hue Routines

Philips Hue Routine Settings
Philips Hue Routine Settings

The Routines tab of your Philips Hue app already contains “wake up” and “go to sleep” routines, waiting for your configuration. For both routines, we can specify the time, the weekday as well as the rooms. Additionally, we can define the fade-in time for waking up (up to 30 minutes) and the fade-out time for going to sleep (up to 60 minutes).

Note, that the “go to sleep” routine starts with a brightness of 56% and make sure that the scene which you are fading out is not brighter. Otherwise, you will see your lights brighten up, just before fading out, which is counterproductive for preparing to go to bed.

Philips Hue – HueLabs

Philips HueLabs Go to Sleep formula
Philips HueLabs Go to Sleep formula

Taking these features a bit further, you can find the “Prepare me to go to sleep” and the “Personal wake up” formulas in your Philips HueLabs.

The first one offers activating nightlight at the press of a button (dimmer or tap) and additional configuration whether the lights should fade into off state or stay at the nightlight recipe.

The latter allows you to specify whether you prefer to wake up with a relaxed light setting or an energized power wake up.

Other apps

iConnectHue Nightlight Timer
iConnectHue Nightlight Timer

With iConnectHue, you are a bit more flexible when scheduling wake-up and go to sleep routines. You can additionally:

  • specify the groups (rather than rooms) you want to dim/fade in
  • configure conditions on who is present
  • set longer fade out time (120 minutes) and
  • use animations in timers.

Conclusion

Smart Lighting can support us to sleep better by preparing us for a good night sleep and waking up with the right light setting.

For more ideas around smart lighting, see:

If you are interested in some background on sleep, see following TED talks:
Russel Foster: “Why do we sleep” and
Jeff Iliff: “One more reason to get a good nights sleep“.

Have a good nights rest and if you want to share your experience with smart sleeping and wakeup routines, please leave your comment below.

Natural Smart Lighting: Feeling Better With Smart Light

Natural Smart LIghting

We have already looked into the impact of light on our sleep in the “Sleeping Better with Smart Lighting” post. But what about the rest of the day? Can smart lighting help us to “feel better”, maybe by resembling natural light?

For a general introduction to smart lighting, see: Introduction to Smart Lighting: A Very Brief History of Light.

In this post, we are examining a concept Philips names “Feel better with light”, which you can find in the Philips HueLabs section. Let’s use the app iConnectHue to reprogram this concept, so you can follow along and tweak it to your liking with your favorite app and smart lighting system.

Here Comes The Sun

In October 2017 the 108th Nobel prize in physiology and medicine has been awarded to three American scientists for their research on circadian rhythm. Back in 1984, they identified a “period” gene which controls the daily rhythm of fruit flies. Their work has been substantial for understanding basics of life: every living organism on earth responds to the suns day and night cycle.

As the sun crosses our sky throughout the day, the color temperature is changing. From around 2000K (Kelvin) during sunrise/sunset up to 5300K average during noon, or even 12000K with a clear sky. These color temperatures, which range from warm light to cold blue light, help to synchronize our inner body-clock to the natural progress of day and night. If we do not get enough natural daylight, or spend too much time in front of blue light emitting LEDs in the evening, we bring our inner clock out of sync and that has a negative effect on our health.

Philips has defined “recipes” with different color temperatures, from “relax” with 2237K, to “read” at 2890K, “concentrate” with 4291K and “energize” at 6410K. If we combine these different recipes with different schedules, we can simulate the natural progress of the sun throughout the day, supporting the accuracy of our inner clock.

Scheduled Smart Lighting

Every smart lighting system allows us to define the time when a certain scene should be turned on or off. This scheduled smart lighting in combination with motion activated lighting is the most efficient lighting automation approach. No voice commands, no switch, no app needed to control our lighting. We specify the time when a certain recipe should be turned on/off and we are done.

iConnectHue Sunset Timer Settings
iConnectHue Sunset Timer Settings

Here is an example from iConnectHue for a sunset timer. It fades every weekday into the “relax” recipe in the living room, starting half an hour before sunset, but of course only if somebody is at home.

iConnectHue "Nightlight" Timer Settings
iConnectHue “Nightlight” Timer Settings

Additionally, we can create a “nightlight” timer for the living room, set up to fade in at 9 p.m. every day, serving as “go to bed” timer.

The “natural” effect these two rules create, is a slow fade in of the “relaxed” scene half an hour before sunset and a slow fade into “nightlight”, preparing you for bed. Both of course only if somebody is at home.

When splitting between workweek and weekend, make sure that you don’t change your go to bed and wake up time too much, as this supposedly causes a “social jet lag”. But that’s a different topic and a different post.

Up to now we only covered the evening and night schedule, what about the rest of the day? If you do not get enough daylight indoors, it makes perfect sense to create timers for “energize”, “concentrate” and “read” as well.

What about dimmer and motion sensors?

iConnectHue "Natural" Dimmer Settings
iConnectHue “Natural” Dimmer Settings

We can program our dimmers to integrate following schedule, in case we need some light (when it’s not scheduled):

  • 6:00 to 11:00 energize
  • 11:00 to 16:00 concentrate
  • 16:00 to 19:00 read
  • 19:00 to 22:00 relax
  • 22:00 to 6:00 nightlight

Pressing the “on” button of the dimmer, will trigger the proper recipe for the time of the day. Holding the “on” button of the dimmer could trigger the “energize” recipe, for the brightest light independent of the daytime.

iConnectHue "Natural" Motion Sensor Settings
iConnectHue “Natural” Motion Sensor Settings

If a motion sensor only triggers on/off for a certain room, you can copy the above schedule from the dimmer. But if a motion sensor should activate just a part of the room to be brighter, we can program it slightly different. Here is an example of Kitchen LEDs which serve as task lights and use a brighter recipe, because you want to see what you cook, even during the night:

– from 6:00 to 16:00 energize
– from 16:00 to 19:00 concentrate
– from 19:00 to 22:00 read
– from 22:00 to 6:00 relax

Conclusion

These were just some examples of how you can automate your smart lighting to your liking, in a natural way. Light “recipes” for different activities, at different times throughout the day and night, fading slowly from one scene to another, can mimic natural light, hence make you “feel better”.

If you are interested in other smart ideas for your smart lighting, see:

Which “recipes” do you prefer? Share your experience with “natural” smart lighting by posting your comments below.