A product review by Bobulous.
The Bodyclock Advanced is a sunset-sunrise simulating alarm clock by Lumie. It uses a 60W light bulb to simulate a gradual sunrise or sunset, with the aim of making sleep patterns more natural for shift workers, people with SAD (seasonal affective disorder), or people who simply do not like going to bed or waking up in pitch darkness.
The Bodyclock Advanced offers features such as variable sunrise and sunset duration; power failure backup; white noise; and a nightlight option.
I purchased the Bodyclock Advanced from the online store run by The Science Museum, for £104.49 including delivery fee. It can also be purchased from Lumie directly.
I'm not the best person to be testing the Bodyclock Advanced. Ideally, you're supposed to have it close to your bed, in a room with blackout curtains, so that the maximum effect can be gained from the sunrise effect, regardless of the time of day. My room is not laid out in a way that easily permits the clock to be by my bed, and I haven't found blackout curtains huge enough for the window. On top of that, there are thirty-four LEDs dotted around my room, half of which blink frequently. So my room is not exactly pitch dark come midnight. Even with those limitations, I love the Bodyclock Advanced.
For a start, it's full of features. At its heart, it's just a standard alarm clock, with a 60W bulb stuck on top. But that allows it to act as a nightlight, a random security light, a bedside reading light (assuming you can place it next to your bed), and, best of all, a sunrise and sunset simulator. Plus it has thoughtful extras such as a green-LED face that dims low when it's time to sleep. It also has a power failure backup that means it will store settings if the power is turned off, and it will even try to remember the time if the mains power fails "for a short period". I only tested this power failure backup for a few minutes, but as the clock offers this function without requiring a battery, I don't imagine it can last more than those few minutes. However, I hate batteries, so this feature pleases me as it is, as it should keep your alarm clock going through brownouts.
The sunrise and sunset simulation is the big deal, though. You just turn the lamp up to the brightness you want, hit the A (alarm) button and the light begins to dim, reaching darkness after a selected duration of 15, 30, 60 or 90 minutes. A 30 minute sunset does the trick for me most of the time. I've never been someone who falls asleep when my head hits the pillow, but the gradual dimming does seem to fool my brain into drifting off to sleep, more often than not. At full power, the light is a harsh, white light that fills the room. Then, minute by minute, the light softens to a yellow, then an orange that doesn't quite fill the room, then a peachy glow that shrinks back into the lamp. But I'm usually asleep by that point.
The sunrise simulation is the feature trumpeted loudest by Lumie, and by other SAD treatment providers. But with so many blinking LEDs in my room already, such a chronically broken sleep pattern, and such useless curtains, I don't really get the full effect of the sunrise simulation. Usually, by the time I get out of bed, my room is already full of filtered daylight, or I wake up well before I want to, and can't get back to sleep. So the sunrise feature doesn't usually catch my attention. Luckily there's also an audible alarm, which only triggers if the sunrise has reached full strength, so you should be woken one way or another. And unlike most alarm clocks, this audible alarm is not jarring. Some alarms clocks seem to think the way forward is a noise that feels like a pneumatic drill applied to the temples, but the Bodyclock Advanced offers instead a gentler, beeping sound.
Other functions, not used by me, but none-the-less appreciated as part of its good design, include the nightlight function, which allows the sunset to dim to 10% of full power, then remain on overnight. I would have thought that leaving the light on overnight reduced the effect of the sunrise in stirring the body, but some children may not sleep at all without a nightlight, so I'm sure it's a welcome feature for some customers. Another optional feature is the security mode, which turns the lamp on and off at random intervals between late afternoon and late night. More related to sleeping aid, though, is the Sleepsound feature, which causes a white noise hiss to overwhelm the senses, masking rhythmic noises that would stop the user getting to sleep or staying asleep. The white noise can be set to get quieter as the sunset feature gets dimmer, or it can be set to remain on all the time the alarm mode is on. The white noise sounds like gas escaping from a pipe.
The Bodyclock Advanced is built well, and it takes a standard 60W candle bulb. The features are all easy to access and change, there being only four buttons on the face of the clock. However, the methods needed to access some of the features are not obvious, so make sure you keep the small (leaflet sized) instruction manual somewhere safe.
I think the Lumie Bodyclock Advanced is the best alarm clock I could wish for. Everything about it works nicely, the sunset and sunrise simulation is very pleasing, and even the features I don't use are a good idea. It has been designed for people with SAD and general sleep pattern problems, but it's such a well-rounded product that it should please anyone looking for a quality alarm clock.
2nd November, 2005: The power here failed three times last night. I was awake for at least five minutes during the first outage, but how much longer it lasted I don't know. When I crawled out of bed hours later, the Lumie Bodyclock Advanced was still showing the right time. It hadn't gained or lost a minute. I'm very impressed with this feature. Also, it's been over twenty-one months since I started using the Lumie, and the original bulb is still going despite the daily dimming and intensifying.
25th April, 2006: A power failure in the early hours lasted fifty minutes, and still the Bodyclock Advanced was showing the right time when the power came back on.
3rd March, 2007: After more than three years of daily dimming and intensifying, the original bulb still hasn't needed to be replaced.
21st October, 2009: Lumie are currently selling the Bodyclock Advanced under the new name Bodyclock ADVANCED 200, but they have confirmed that nothing has been changed on the "200". Probably the change in name has been made to reinforce the greater feature set on their relatively new model of dawn simulator, the Lumie Bodyclock ELITE 300, which is very similar to the 200 but adds a radio, a greater range of soothing sounds, and an SD card reader so you can be sung to sleep by your favourite MP3s.
18th December, 2023: A few months ago I pressed the light-up button on my Lumie Bodyclock Advanced, and it caved in. Some internal structure has snapped, and I don't see any way I can fix the breakage. So I think my beloved sunset clock is finished. It lasted more than nineteen years of daily use, which is how things should be (and I think I only had to change the bulb twice in all that time). The original model is no longer on sale, and online reviews of the newer models don't fill me with confidence that they'll last anywhere near as long, so it feels unlikely that I'll buy a replacement. I'll update here if I change my mind.