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In a perfect world of sleep kings and queens, we would rise when the sun comes up and sleep shortly after the sun goes down. In this fantasy land our body would know when it is time to go to sleep because of obvious environmental signals like temperature, light, and sound. We would all get 8 hours of sleep and we would not even stress over it.
Insert Artificial Light
The world of sleep is, unfortunately, not perfect. Most of us have crazy schedules and we rely heavily on artificial light. The light comes from not just our ceiling but from our TV’s, laptops, phones, and tablets.
Whether we realize it or not, these unnatural sources of light can wreak havoc on our circadian rhythm. For this reason we highly recommend getting smart lights to define your sleep-wake cycle.
The best smart lights to hack your sleeping environment are:
- Philips Hue Smart Lights – Highest Quality
- Novostella WiFi Smart Light Bulbs – Best Selection
- Kasa Smart Light Bulb – Best Budget Option
#1 Philips Hue Smart Lights
Check Price | Best smart lighting option overall
Philips’ “Hue” brand has redefined home lighting.
This brilliant smart lighting package allows you to choose from 16 million colors. You can easily change the colors with your phone or by voice with any smart speaker (Alexa, Google, Apple HomeKit). The light bulbs are LED and have 25000 hours of life. Most importantly for sleep – they are dimmable. This easily allows you to simulate a sunrise and sunset within your home at the time of your choosing.
The Hue app comes with pre-defined lighting scenes such as Wake Up, Concentrate, Relax and Go To Sleep. While other smart lighting options allow you to configure all this manually, Philips Hue comes ready to go.
Hue Technical Information:
- Brightness: 800 lumens
- Color Temperature: 2700 Kelvin
- Bulb Voltage: 120 volts
- Philips Hub required (comes with the package)
#2 Novostella WiFi Smart Light Bulbs
Check Price | Best selection of lighting options
Our runner up, Novostella, produces some great smart bulbs and requires no hub.
This is a great option if you want most of the quality of Philips Hue but you can’t afford the hefty Philips price tag. Novostella smart lights also let you choose from 16 million different colors, are dimmable, and claim a 50,000-hour lifespan. They offer a smart floodlight, which is good if you need something with extra power and coverage.
The technical information for Novostella varies by the lighting product you decide to go with.
#3 Kasa Smart Light Bulb
Check Price | Best if you’re on a budget
If you don’t need a home set up but instead are just trying to cover one room or a small apartment than this Kasa smart light bulb is all you need.
For under $25 you can have many of the features of Philips and Novostello. This option is particularly great if you already use other Kasa smart home devices and are familiar with that app.
Kasa Technical Information:
- Brightness: 800 lumens
- RGB Color Changing (2500K-9000K)
- No Hub required – Works with wifi connection + app
Why It’s Smart to Use Smart Lights
Bad lighting is one of the primary enemies of quality sleep. Most people are not even aware of how much light messes with their sleep-wake cycle and affects their overall health.
Standard light bulbs go on and off. And that is the problem.
In the modern world, we need lights that are dimmable and adaptable to our schedules. Whether those schedules are going to sleep at 9 PM or 8 AM after the graveyard shift.
How to Hack your Lighting for the Best Sleep
Sunlight sends signals to the brain which triggers you to wake up (along with higher temperature and more sound). This also triggers the release of the hormone serotonin – the feel-good hormone that also helps you feel calm and focused.
Darkness sends signals to the brain which triggers you to feel sleepy (along with lower temperature and quiet). This also triggers the release of the hormone melatonin – the hormone that makes you feel tired.
Our body knows internally that when the sun comes up (light), it’s time to wake up and when the sun goes down (no light) it’s time to go to sleep.
Your schedule is your business. We can’t tell you to go to sleep at 9 PM every night and expect it to actually happen. Who are we kidding – you have a life. Family, friends, relationships, and work. None of these things align with going to bed just a few hours after a normal workday.
Here’s the good news, good blackout shades and smart home lighting makes it simple for us to hack our environment to mimic the sun – regardless of your sleeping schedule.
The “Light” Enemies of Sleep & How to Beat Them
Step 1: Optimize Phones / Tablets / Laptops / TV
As a rule, we recommend not using your phones, tablets, laptops and watching any TV for about 1 hour before sleep.
But, we realize that is becoming increasingly tough due to the addictiveness of these devices. So here’s what you need to do depending on your device:
- iPhones / iPad
- Goto settings -> display & brightness -> night shift -> Schedule it to turn on 3 hours before you want to go to bed and set it to turn off at the time you want to wake up. Set the gauge to “more warm”.
- Android Devices
- For Android devices, you will need an app like Blue Light Filter. There are others but we find this one to be the best.
- Windows 10
- In the search bar, type in “Night Light”. Like iOS, this allows you to set a schedule. Again, we recommend setting it for 3 hours before sleep and at the highest setting. This will make you more tired and less likely to want to continue your computer.
- Choose Apple menu -> System Preferences, then click Displays -> Click the Night Shift tab. Put the same settings as your iPhone and iPad.
- Apple TV
- It’s currently not possible to enable night shift on Apple TV but if you are desperate Apple has some advanced display accommodations that you can manually turn on.
Step 2: Replace Lights in your Home with Dimmable Smart Lights
The sleep ROI of purchasing a smart lighting system is high. We can not recommend it enough.
Once you have some smart bulbs set up, like Philips Hue, you can easily set it on a schedule to match your preferred sleep-wake cycle.
This schedule should be a slow dim to darkness. We recommend this dim starts about 3 hours before you want to fall asleep. This simulates a sunset. It should match up with the settings for your phone, laptop, and tablet.
Simulate a Sunrise
Your new lighting system can act as a silent alarm. Much like a vibrating sleep tracker, like the VivoSmart, your lights can wake you up at your preferred time without making any noise. Set your bedroom smart light bulb to go on at the time you want to wake up.
Lighting is one very important aspect of your sleep environment. If you are in a noisy environment, we also recommend Macks ultrasoft foam earplugs.