Polyphasic Sleep - Wakeup Light

To help with my polyphasic sleeping experiment, I have taped cardboard over my bedroom window, so I can sleep in complete darkness. I hope that helps me fall asleep.

But complete darkness makes it harder to wake up, and waking up is already plenty hard when you’re adapting to Uberman. So I thought that a light that would go on when my naptime is over would be great; complete darkness for sleeping and light for waking up.


The cardboard over my window is a piece of art in itself. :P A small amount of light leaks in through some of the edges, but it’s really very little.

Wakeup Light

For the wakeup light, I started out with a low-voltage controlled dimmer, so that I could drive it from a microcontroller:

I hooked this up to an Atmel AT90S8535 microcontroller board, wrote a program for the microcontroller, and placed both parts along with a power supply in a neat little box:

By the way, don’t try this at home if you’re not comfortable about working with mains electricity. You don’t want to electrocute yourself or burn the house down because of a short or insufficient cooling.

Here is the wakeup light box, closed and mounted on my wall:

Next, I hooked the dimmer up to a 500 Watt halogen floodlight that I mounted over my bed. 500 Watt worth of halogen is a lot of light, it’s like a little mini-Sun in my bedroom. From the pictures, you really can’t appreciate how bright the thing is:

If I’ve been lying on my bed in the darkness, and the lamp goes from 0% to 100% in half a minute, the brightness hurts my eyes even when they’re closed. Lots of light :)

I’ve programmed the wakeup light to do the following after I turn on its power:

  • Wait for about 23 minutes with the light off
  • Gradually turn on the lamp to full brightness in about half a minute
  • Leave the lamp on for about 3 minutes
  • Blink the light on and off for about 5 minutes
  • Turn off the light

The turning on of the lamp roughly coincides with the soft waking sounds of the mp3 I listen to when I sleep, so that I get woken up gently both by light and sound.

The blinking of the lamp more or less starts at the same time as the really harsh wakeup sounds of the mp3; it’s the “you really have to wake up now” part for both senses. The noise is harsh, and 500 Watt of blinking halogen light is… unpleasant, to say the least. I have good hopes that those things will wake me up, no matter what.

  1. I really like the light contraption.. nice job man!

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