The Verilux Rise & Shine Natural Sleep System does a pretty good job of helping you get to sleep at night – but that’s not where this high-tech sleep aid really shines.
Its best feature is how it wakes you up in the morning. It gives you a gradual nudge from your slumber with music and lights…the complete opposite of a blaring radio clock or buzzing alarm.
The key feature of the Verilux Rise and Shine is its 20-level programmable lighting panel. The company says it’s designed to help realign your natural circadian rhythms – your body’s “internal clock.”
In a perfect world, external light is supposed to regulate your body’s sleep…so dusk is your cue to start to unwind, and dawn is supposed to gradually wake you up.
I don’t know about you, but my internal clock is about as accurate as a cheap Timex with a busted mainspring. But that’s the beauty of the Verilux Rise and Shine; you can forget trying to sync your body with the real sunrise and sunset, and simply create your own virtual dusk and dawn inside your bedroom. Once you get your sleep pattern into a healthy groove, you should start sleeping better night after night.
For its innovative light staging, the Verilux sleep machine gets high marks. When you go to bed, you can set the timer for 5, 15 or 30 minutes. As the minutes go by, the white light from the LED panel gets dimmer and dimmer until it’s finally lights out. The unit’s sound system works in tandem with the LED panel, so the volume slowly fades away along with the lights.
In the morning, The Verilux will ease you out of your sleep over a 5, 15 or 30-minute period. The wake-up process starts very gently, softly playing whatever natural sound or music you’ve chosen the night before. At the same time, the light panel begins to glow – a blue light at first that slowly builds up to a bright white light, accompanied by natural sounds, your music, or an FM radio station that increases in volume along with the light’s intensity. It’s a surprisingly nice experience to be eased out of bed that way – unless you’re used to repeatedly hitting the snooze button.
(By the way, you can angle the Verilux’s LED panel so it doesn’t feel like the sun gods have landed on your face in the morning – I preferred pointing it toward the ceiling.)
I can also imagine the Verilux would be a better way to wake up on those early winter mornings, when you really don’t feel like seizing the day when it’s still pitch black outside. (Speaking of, Verilux also makes some light machines to cheer you up in the dead of winter – check out Amazon.com for a selection of those.)
Besides the light panel which is the real bright idea behind this sleep machine, there are a number of other great features the Verilux Rise & Shine sleep aid system offers…
Sound options including MP3s
The Verilux Rise & Shine includes a USB port, an SD card reader slot, a built-in FM radio and an SD card pre-loaded with natural sound compositions. They’re nice, but I really didn’t use them.
What you should do is grab a thumb drive, load it up with your favorite MP3 formatted songs or other natural sound recordings, plug it in to the USB port, and then program the Verilux to play exactly the sounds or songs you want for your sleep cycle. You can choose one playlist for going to sleep, and different one for waking up.
Or instead of a thumb drive, you can use an SD card – just load it up with tunes, slip it into the reader, and make your selections. You can also play audio from an auxiliary device such as an iPhone, Droid, or portable CD player through the Verilux system if you have a 3.5mm stereo cable.
However, the Verilux system can’t use your auxiliary device as the source for programmed sleep or wake music – you’ll need to stick to a pre-loaded thumb drive or SD card for that function.
Pretty good speaker
The unit comes with a single, 5 Watt/4 ohm speaker that to my ears performs pretty well. A die-hard audiophile looking for a stereo setup will surely have a different opinion. But for just natural sounds or music to fall asleep and wake up to, the Verilux speaker works. You can also use 3.5 mm earbuds or headphones with the Rise & Shine.
Unique auxiliary light option
Another great thing about the Verilux is it has an AC outlet in the back of the unit. Plug one of your bedroom’s lamps into it, and the system will use it as an extra light source that will match lumen for lumen exactly what the unit’s LED panel does during the sleep/wake cycle. You can also turn the LED panel off, and use only the table or floor lamp plugged into the Verilux.
Maybe not all sweetness and light
There are a handful of things I thought the Verilux lacked or could do better:
- The system only accepts MP3 formatted sounds or songs loaded onto a thumb drive or SD card – any file type other than MP3s won’t work. It’s pretty easy to convert most other audio files into MP3s, but just be aware it’s an extra step that can take awhile.
- You can’t hook up your iPod, smartphone or any MP3 player to it
- The unit’s clock display may be too bright for light-sensitive sleepers. (This is a personal gripe of mine about many of today’s sleep machines!) You can always turn off the display’s backlight – but you won’t be able to see what time it is in the middle of the night unless you fiddle with the buttons.
- Personally, the 30-minute max setting to fall asleep is not enough time. I wouldn’t need a sleep machine if I could get to sleep that fast! I’d really like to see the Verilux include 60-minute music timer option.
- There is no way to set the Verilux for two different wake-up times. Better hope you and your partner get up at the same time…once the Verilux orchestrates its dawn of a new day, no one in the room will be asleep!
- The Verilux Rise and Shine is still a relatively pricey unit, but then again, its not your typical alarm clock. The unit I tested for a week was a friend’s she purchased for about $250 in 2010. The price has dropped since then, so you should be able to find it under $200, particularly if you shop Amazon.com.
Our High-Tech Sleep Aid Rating for the Verilux Rise & Shine
Despite it looking like a bedside printer, we liked the Verilux Rise & Shine staged lighting feature the best. Could use some improvement, but overall, this one shines as a better way to wake up in the morning.