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Using Philips Hue Sunrise Routine for SAD Light Therapy


There is nothing better than waking up in the morning to the sun shining through the curtains, it is also proven that waking up to the sunlight and sunrise helps you wake easier in the morning and feel more ‘awake’ when your alarm does go off.

This is great in the summer however in the winter months you may have to get up before the sun has risen and it is still pitch black outside.

How to use Philips Hue as a Sunrise Alarm

In the hue application is a tab called ‘Routines’, it was called alarms before. With Routines you can have room lights come on at set times and turn off at a set time, great for making it look like someone is in your house when you are away for example.

Within routines is the option for wake up, this gives you the function of fading which is all taken care of by the hue app. There are not many options, you can create a ‘wake up’ routine, give it a name, set the time and days of the week for it to be used, such as weekdays when you get up for work, and then how long you want the fade to last before it is max brightness.

You cannot change the colours of the sunrise, the app will do this all for you. Select the room you want the lights to come on in and away you go.

This works really well if you have multiple lamps in the bedroom, and a main light, all in sync these will gradually become brighter and brighter creating a warm sunrise glow.

The wake up setting is designed to and only effects your lighting, for an audio alarm set your phone to sound when it is time to get up too, when your alarm sounds your room should be fully lit and with the fading of the sunrise you should also start to naturally wake up and feel fresher in the morning. After a few weeks you should notice a difference and find it easier to get up in the morning at your set time as your body adjusts.

Philips Hue White Ambiance A19 60W Equivalent Dimmable LED Smart Bulb (Works with Alexa Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant)

    Hue Sunrise Scenes

    Setting up a sunrise scene is simple with Hue bulbs and works really well, however we have found some scenes to be better in other apps. While the official Hue sunrise scene works ok, from using other apps there are better scenes to use.

    • iConnectHue (Really nice warming sunrise effect)
    • Sleep Cycle (Nice scene and helps wake you up at the right time too)
    • OnSwitch

    Sunset Routine

    Unlike the wake up option, there is nothing for a sunset, however this can be created by setting up a routine. Like before you can set the time for it to start, days for it to happen, and the room too. The difference here is you can select a scene, where there is an option for dimming which will create the same effect as a sunset.

    • Load up the official Hue app and click settings button
    • Then go to Advanced settings
    • Set your home location if not already configured. This allows Hue to know when the sunrise is where you live.
    • Next, click the Routines button at the bottom
    • Click the Other routines choice
    • Click the + at the bottom right to add a new routine and select Sunset
    • Enter a name for this routine
    • When should be set as sunset, or you can change this to a specific time
    • Choose the days of the week that you want this to run
    • With fade you can select the time the sunrise takes place, from instantly up to 30 minutes.
    • Now select the rooms you want the sunrise to take place.
    • When you have finished, click Save in the upper right corner to complete

    Using Philips Hue as for SAD Light Therapy

    If you ever feel blue during the winter months, you might be one of the 15 to 20 million Americans who suffers from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). You might feel sluggish or moody, especially when you wake up when it is still dark outside. According to Mayo Clinic, most people who suffer from this illness exhibit clear symptoms. One might oversleep, gain weight, or have changes in their appetite, alongside feelings of sadness and low energy levels.

    Using Hue bulbs to wake you up is a great way to help with SAD in the winter months, and also perfect if you work shifts and have to get up when it is dark. By using light to wake you up it helps the body know it is time to start awakening, allowing your body to start preparing for the day so that you wake naturally and not just to a sudden alarm clock sound.

    You may have noticed you feel better in the morning when you wake up with the sun shining through the curtains, you feel refreshed and energized, where as in the winter you don’t want to move, and that not just because it is cold.

    What Causes SAD?

    SAD is, according to Mayo Clinic, caused by changes in light levels that disrupt the body’s circadian rhythm. This rhythm, also known as the biological clock, has a direct impact on serotonin levels. When one gets less sunlight, levels of serotonin drop, triggering depression and other negative symptoms.

    Mayo Clinic mentions another chemical known to be affected by light levels – melatonin. Commonly known as the “sleep” chemical, increased levels of it (due to decreased sun exposure) can make someone oversleep. Plus, too much melatonin can have a direct impact on a person’s mood.

    How Can You Treat SAD?

    Seasonal affective disorder can be treated in a few ways. You should always bring the possibility of SAD up to your doctor, especially if the change of seasons affects your day-to-day life, employment, or familial relationships. There are a variety of excellent treatment options available, including medication and psychotherapy.

    Using Philips Hue as for SAD Light Therapy

    If you have a milder case, you might want to try something simpler first. The most important thing to do is reset your biological clock, which can be accomplished with phototherapy. This form of therapy attempts to mimic the lighting conditions of summer, and will help your circadian rhythm stay in-sync despite any changes in the seasons – keeping you at your peak mental state.

    This type of therapy is even preferred by some medical professionals. It is used over other treatments due to its low risk level and ease of administration. Plus, it has been proven to be very effective. A study published in 2005 in the American Journal of Psychiatry found a “significant reduction in depression symptom severity” when phototherapy was used by individuals suffering from seasonal affective disorder.

    How Can I Use Phototherapy at Home?

    There are a few options available to those who want to try this out for themselves. One of the classic options is to buy a lamp specifically made for seasonal affective disorder. However, these barebones lamps perform only a single function, have no particularly special features, and only shine in a single color.

    Circadian Optics Lumos 2.0 Light Therapy Lamp | Ultra Bright 10,000 Lux Full Spectrum LED Light (White)

      For just about the same price as one of these lamps, you could instead purchase a Philips Hue light bulb. These bulbs can display a full range of colors, and are equipped with smart features. They run on an app on your phone, and even work with personal assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, the Apple Homekit, and Google Assistant.

      Features of the Philips Hue Smart Bulb

      These bulbs can be used to simulate changing light conditions with apps designed for specific profiles, such as “passing clouds”. They can also be used to set different moods, such as at a house party or when you are just relaxing at home. They are quite versatile, and can be set to display pretty much any color you could think of.

      The primary benefit to this is that you can set it to whatever color makes you feel the most comfortable. Everyone is different, and it is important that you have the ability to cater your treatment to your own particular needs. The Philips Hue can be great for treating seasonal affective disorder for this very reason.

      Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 60W Equivalent LED Smart Bulb Starter Kit (4 A19 Bulbs and 1 Hub Compatible with Amazon Alexa Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant)

        Plus, they are incredibly easy to adopt, as these bulbs work in any standard light socket. This means that you can easily set it up and begin feeling better as soon as possible. But you don’t have to just take our word for it; several SAD sufferers have experienced positive results when using the Philips Hue for treatment.

        The Verdict

        Overall, Philips Hue smart bulbs have proved themselves an effective choice for those suffering from seasonal affective disorder. They are more customizable and versatile than regular SAD lamps, and offer a great value for the money spent.

        These high-tech products from Philips are bound to be perfect for your household. Not only will you find easy and quick alleviation of SAD symptoms, but you can use them to adjust the mood in your house to whatever you find most pleasing. They are great for parties, and their interconnectivity means that they can be used with your voice-activated digital assistant.

        Overall, if you suffer from seasonal affective disorder, there is no harm in giving the Philips Hue smart bulb system a try. You may find relief from your symptoms without investing in psychotherapy or medication.

        Of course, you should always keep in mind that your mental health should be your number one priority. If you have been using the Philips Hue and you are not finding relief from your symptoms, there is no shame in going to the doctor! You might need a little more help in getting your rhythm back into place.

        However, your doctor would probably recommend that you continue to use the Philips Hue. It is a great system, with proven benefits for SAD sufferers. The versatile, valuable Philips Hue smart bulb would be an excellent choice for anyone who needs a little relief from the winter blues.

        Founder & Editor

        Mike is the founder of Hue Home Lighting, a huge Hue fan with far too many lights, covering home and garden. A smart home gadget addict and also enjoys the odd bit of DIY


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        1. Lars

          The wake up routine unfortunately starts way too bright so it is not a smooth wake up at all. Can’t find any way to change this in the Hue App so we won’t be able to use this feature.

        2. Thomas Bolger

          Could you update this page with links to the apps? I cannot find them in the Play store. Perhaps the apps you mentioned are iOS only? If so, that leaves half of America in the literal dark.

        3. Rory Smith

          Could you tell us precisely how to use the bulb as an SAD lamp rather than allude to its effectiveness. Ie what colour to set it at (I had Philips blue lamp before – keen to replace it) and how far away to sit from it and for how long. Thanks for a great article!


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