Lights Out: Smart Globe Puts You to Sleep 1

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Monday, May 12th, 2014
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Drift Light Mimics Sunset To Aid Falling Asleep
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Saffron has unveiled a new light bulb that is committed to users’ well-being and improving the quality of their sleep.

The Drift Light is a self-dimming globe that is designed to mimic the natural daily occurrence of sunset while “promot(ing) relaxation and an increase in melatonin.”

Before technology and artificial lighting began disrupting natural sleeping patterns, the light cycle of the sun would direct when people would rise and return to slumber. The Drift Light aims to help users avoid the detrimental effects of poor sleep while helping them relax before going to bed.

The Drift Light Globe Within A Lamp

The Drift Light

“Our body craves routine and likes to know what’s coming,” said Dr. Lawrence Epstein, co-author of The Harvard Medical School Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep told Psych Central.

With the ability to sit within a standard Edison base fixture – no rewiring required – the Drift Light features an internal microprocessor and is operated through a conventional light switch, offering three modes of illumination.

Although it is energy efficient, its first mode acts features the same warm glow as general incandescent light. A second flip of the switch will take the Drift Light into Midnight Mode, which sees the bulb dim over the course of 37 minutes (the average duration of sunset). This gradual shift from light to darkness is set to prepare the body for sleep.

Blue Light Linked To Suppressing Melatonin

Blue light has been shown to suppress melatonin

Another flick of the switch sees the Drift Light move into Moonlight Mode, which will also slowly dim until it is at “night light brightness.” This mode has been designed particularly for children who would like a touch of illumination at night or in areas which require minimal illumination such as hallways.

Saffron also says the Drift Light can illuminate for 30,000 hours, lasting 30 times longer than incandescent bulbs. It also only utilises seven watts, compared to the 40 watts of a standard incandescent bulb.

The Drift Light does not utilise the “bluer” light that is commonly associated with LEDs and which can mess with a human’s melatonin levels.

Harvard researchers found that “while light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin, blue light does so more powerfully.”

In an experiment, Harvard researchers observed the effects of 6.5 hours of exposure to blue light to exposure to green light of comparable brightness. They discovered that blue light suppressed melatonin levels for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much – three hours compared to 1.5 hours.

Additionally, unlike LEDs which direct light, the Drift Light has a diffusing cap to ensure the light will shine equally in a 180 degree arc.

Aura Alarm Clock

Aura Alarm Clock

“When we decided to build a self-dimming light bulb, we didn’t even consider using the light switch at first. We considered a custom light switch, wireless and even a physical switch on the base of the bulb,” Saffron CEO Preston Wily told Co.Design. “(But) we wanted our solution to be easy to use, fit almost any standard light bulb fixture, and be simple to install. We went back to the drawing board and came up with the idea of using the way people normally interact with lights as our basis for setting the Drift Light.”

In terms of ensuring proper sleep, the Drift Light mines a similar vein as another product launched earlier this year – The Aura Alarm Clock by Withings.

The Aura Alarm Clock uses a “smart sleep system” that records users’ sleeping environments (noise pollution, room temperature, and light level), and provides scientifically-validated light and sound programs to aid sleep.

Reports from the clock are available through a wireless mobile application where people can compare sleep conditions over various evenings. A sleep sensor also sits under the user’s pillow to monitor sleep patterns and cycles.

The Benjamin New York Sleep Menu

The Benjamin New York Sleep Menu

According to Saffron, using a Drift Light bulb would cost only $11.28 per year when used for an average of eight hours per day.

Hotels in particular are beginning to invest heavily in sleep aids and programs to offer guests a good night sleep.

The Benjamin in New York announced a Rest and Renew program under the direction of sleep expert and co-author of Sleep for Success, Rebecca Robbins.

The program offers consultation with Robbins, a pillow and a bedtime snack menu. Earlier this year, the Four Seasons began offering the first fully customisable hotel bed, offering travellers the opportunity to effectively choose their own bed and personalise their sleep during every stay.

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  1. Matt

    Great article! I have been using a SleepShield screen protector that blocks the blue light on my phone and iPad. It's helped the quality of my sleep and my childrens, we are definitely guilty of using our devices before bed and even in bed.