If you have trouble getting up in the dull, grey mornings then you might want to look into getting yourself a dawn-simulator lamp. One such example is the Lumie Bodyclock 250 which offers a lamp built into a clock radio.
According to Lumie, clinical trials reckon that the Bodyclock can help those suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), assuming, of course, that such a thing actually exists. But even if you don't suffer from SAD and the mornings are getting lighter, it's still a good choice for those who have to get up at silly o'clock for work or people who simply have thick curtains on the bedroom windows that don't let much light in. The idea is that you get up feeling "refreshed and energised", all year round.
The Bodyclock doesn't quite have the premium feel that can be found on rivals such as the Pure Twilight, as it's finished largely in cheap, white plastic. It doesn't look bad at all, but it doesn't quite reach the same aesthetic standards set by some of its rivals. The design is fairly basic - a large, plastic dome forms the lamp and underneath that, on the front of the unit, you'll find five basic controls including the snooze button (which will give you an extra 9 minutes in bed) along with volume and tuning controls. At the base, the unit has three more buttons for controlling the lamp. The buttons are quite basic in design, but they're perfectly functional and responsive. In between the two sets of buttons is a display showing the time, along with icons to show when the wake-up option is set and when the bedtime volume fade setting has been activated. Round the back, you'll find the FM aerial and the speaker grill.
Setup is easy - all you really need to do is take it out of the box, screw in the supplied lightbulb and then set the time on the display, and also set your alarm for your chosen time. Once this is done, the Bodyclock will automatically include a 30-minute "sunrise" to wake you up gradually before the alarm goes off at the end of the 30 minutes. You also have the option of setting a 30-minute "sunset" to help you drift off to sleep (this also dims the display as well).
The default setting for sunrise and sunset is 30 minutes, but you can alter this for a shorter or longer period, choosing from 15, 20, 45, 60 or 90 minute options. You can also set the lamp so that instead of turning off completely at the end of sunset, it fades to a low level and stays there to act as a nightlight.
You can use the Bodyclock as a simple bedside lamp by using the appropriate buttons to brighten and dim the light to find the most suitable level, which will then switch off automatically after 90 minutes. Perhaps it would have been nice to be able to choose this time yourself so that it doesn't turn itself halfway through the final chapter of a gripping novel, but then 90 minutes does seem like a reasonable amount of time. If it were less, then it could prove to be a problem.
You can choose from several tones for your alarm - a beep, tweeting birds, a rooster crowing, waves lapping at the shore and one other known as "white noise" which seems to be a vague combination of swirling winds, or distant waves and traffic, we couldn't quite tell which.
You can also choose to have the radio wake you up, or set the lamp to flash on and off once it's completed its 30-minute wakeup run.
The FM radio is fairly standard but there's no DAB option on board, which is a bit of a pity. You can use the buttons to tune into stations manually or hold the button down and it'll find the next station in the spectrum for you.There doesn't appear to be an option for programming in presets, so if you want to listen to something different, you'll have to search for another station each time to want to switch. The sound quality isn't amazing but it's actually better than we expected it to be, given the small size of the speaker grill on the back.
All these lighting and alarm options are pretty easy to setup, although we did find that we needed to refer to the instruction manual a fair bit, as the rudimentary selection of buttons means that most of them have more than one function, so it's not always obvious which one you should be using.
As well as using the clock to wake you up in the morning, you can also use it for security. Granted it's not going to stop burglars from getting into your house, but it might just put them off by making them think that you're at home when you're not. The security mode will randomly switch the light on and off between the hours of 16.00 and 23.00 to give the impression that there's someone at home. Obviously you can accomplish the same effect with any old lamp and a timer switch, but it's a nice feature to have built-in.
The flexible selection of alarm and lighting options is a definite advantage for the Lumie Bodyclock Active 250, as is the lightweight and compact design. However, it's hard to recommend considering that you can get the Pure Twilight (which offers DAB radio, a multi-colour lamp and superior build quality) for just £30 more. However, the Bodyclock does deliver what it promises and if you're after a sub-£100 dawn simulator lamp then it's certainly worth considering.