What is dawn simulation?

Page Content
  1. Introduction to dawn simulation
  2. Clinical settings
  3. The theory
  4. Wait a minute… isn't it the same as bright light therapy?
  5. Sleep and Wake-up Uses



Dawn-simulation is a technique designed to help treat SAD (seasonal affective disorder).

You could also use it as a silent alarm clock that awakens you naturally. In this treatment the bedroom lights gradually come on before you wake.

It would not work on a few of the people I know. They would just pull the covers over their head!

Clinical settings


Two dawn types have been used and work effectively in clinical trials

  1. A natural dawn that mimicked a sunrise at springtime when it was still dark outside.
  2. Sigmoid (mathematical) shaped dawn (30 minutes to 2 hours).

When it is successfully used, patients can sleep during the dawn then easily wake up to the simulated sunrise, then the days treatment is finished.

The theory


Dawn simulation theory is based on knowledge of light signals of the early morning being far more affective at making your biological clock advance than various light signals which are given out during different types of day.

Wait a minute…isn't it the same as bright light therapy?


It is similar but not the same. This therapy uses light sources which range in luminance. Typically, 100-300 lux. light boxes generally are in the 10,000 range.

19% of patients do not continue bright light therapy because of the inconvenience. Treatment is done before awakening; It can be a better alternative than bright light therapy.

  • Studies show it to be better than bright light therapy in efficacy terms.
  • Others show no difference or show bright light therapy to be superior.
  • Some SAD patients use dawn therapy plus bright light therapy which provides maximum effect at the beginning of the day

Sleep and Wake-up Uses


This type of light therapy may be used like an alarm clock. Light goes through the eyelids which trigger the body to start the wake-up cycle, this includes the release. So when the light is fully bright you wake up on your own with out a need for a alarm.

Return from dawn simulation to natural healing home

Back to light therapy


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