Tag: Philips

Tech Swellness: At home with Amazon

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Now having been home without any international travel for a whole year, I’ve slept in my own bed more in the last 365 days than I have for the past decade or so. Being at home so much has made me want to carve out ways to streamline routines and habits, and make it a little more comfortable. Having routines can help ease stress, and so they contribute to your overall mental health.

I had a chat with Amazon Canada who teamed up with designer Arren Williams several weeks ago and learned about Amazon’s lineup of products and how they could work with my home decor. Although I’ve used a few Amazon products for a couple of years now, I recently upgraded both my Echo and my Firestick. I don’t consider myself a very techy person but the new and improved Echo and Fire TV Stick are such fun and do make my everyday life at home better.

The new Echo, an adorable sphere, fits in better with my aesthetic compared to the previous model I had (a black cylinder), and I’ve set up one routine thus far on it. Each morning, I say “Alexa, good morning!” and Alexa replies with the date (I never know the date so I like this little reminder), the time, the weather (so I know how to get dressed for the day, although let’s face it, it’s pretty much either sweatsuits and running gear now during lockdown life), what’s on my calendar for the day, and it ends with news tidbits from CBC News.

This routine I’ve set up is a quick little rundown that helps me prepare for the day. I left out traffic since I don’t drive regularly. I should set up a bedtime routine, too; that’s next on my to-do list. There’s another routine they suggest, which is for Alexa to share the weather once you turn off the alarm, which is a good one if you don’t have time to do the entire detailed good morning routine. Add in a traffic report if you’re driving, too (I mostly walk or bike so I’ve left that one out). And as always, the Echo is great as a Bluetooth speaker for listening to Spotify or my favourite podcasts (I’m currently catching up on episodes of Conan O’Brien’s podcast, along with Fake Doctors Real Friends, and Office Ladies).

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And the Amazon Fire TV Stick? I got one a few years ago and loved that I no longer had to watch everything on my laptop, which is great since I got rid of cable and  now mostly watch shows streaming from Prime, Netflix and C rave. My favourite thing about the new Fire TV Stick I got to replace my oldie? It has power, volume and mute on the remote, which is extremely handy for me since I seem to have misplaced my TV remote. But even better, it has an Alexa Voice Remote, so I just hold down the button and say, “Alexa, play Superstore” and it automatically finds and plays Superstore from Prime. Helluva lot more convenient than first having to google which streaming service a show is on, going onto the streaming service and then tediously typing in the show and searching for it. The Alexa Voice Remote is a game changer and IMO worth upgrading to the current Fire TV Stick if you’ve got an older model.

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My newest tech toy isn’t that new to the market but I’ve never had any smart lightbulbs until now. I’m excited to test out the Philips Hue Personal Wireless Lighting because I have a bad habit of falling asleep with the light on. Now I can set a routine for the light to slowly dim (and maybe it’ll prompt me to go to bed at a decent hour!) so that I don’t wake up at 3 a.m. to turn it off. And to help me wake up in the mornings? I can set up a routine to gradually brighten to help me ease into the day (which is especially helpful now in the winter with the sunrise so late). I’m only just getting started using the Philips Hue but I think it’ll really benefit my sleep routine. Stay tuned, I’ll report back on my Instagram!

How smart is your home? The smart home tools I’ve tried out so far really benefit my health and lifestyle (you don’t want to know how often I’ve used it to help find my phone in my place. Sometimes I find myself asking Alexa to help me find everything from my keys (and I don’t have a Tile on them) to my library book, that is how hooked I am!

Disclosure: Amazon Canada gifted me with the Amazon and Philips products.

2 Comments February 19, 2021

Healthy Swellness: Philips goLITE BLU

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A few weeks ago, I told you how I tested out the Philips Wake-up Light and how it really make waking up a much more pleasant experience. (I forgot to include in that post how I remembered three dreams during a two-week span of using it; I typically never remember my dreams — at most, maybe three times in a whole year. At first, I found this quite amusing, until the third dream, which was quite upsetting…but since then no more dream recollection).

Now, for part deux of this Philips Vitalight testing: The Philips goLITE BLU. It’s a portable energy light designed to mimic natural daylight so as to help boost energy and  mood. Using it hust 20 to 30 minutes a day is said to help make you feel more energetic and active. It’s blue because research has shown this to be the most energizing colour, and the light is designed to give off a pure blue light that occurs naturally on clear, sunny days (but safely — there’s no UV rays).

To use it, you don’t have to stare into the light, but just have it directed towards your eyes, and you can be doing work, watching tv, eating or any other typical daily activities.

Dr. Colleen Carney, who is the director of sleep and depression laboratory at Ryerson University, shared some tips on how to incorporate light therapy into one’s routine:

1. Try light therapy instead of your caffeine fix. Caffeine will make you more alert but it’ll be followed by fatigue when you experience withdrawal from it. Rather than drinking a coffee, try drinking some water instead and 20 minutes of light therapy.

2. Tend to nod off in the early evening? Doing so may lead to fragmented sleep, and you may have difficulty sleeping through the night until the morning. Instead of nodding off in the evening, try using the light therapy in the early evening to help keep you awake until your bedtime.

3. If you have problems getting up in the morning, use the light therapy first thing when you wake up. This will alert your internal clock to wake up earlier the next day and give you an alertness boost to kickstart your day.

4. Blue light will enhance how alert you are, so turn off blue lights and any electronics that emit blue light several hours before your bedtime.

5. If you experience seasonal affectiveness disorder or low energy, using the blue light can help. When you feel your energy lagging, use it for your 20 to 30 minute session then. NB. If you have a history of bipolar disorder or sensitivity to bright light, talk to your doctor first before trying blue light therapy.

6. Besides blue light therapy, also try to stay well hydrated; taking breaks to stave off boredom and eye strain; workout (getting the blood flowing can help relieve feelings of fatigue); and avoiding sugary foods that’ll set you off on a sugar high and then a crash.

Armed with these tips, I started using the Philips goLITE BLU a few weeks ago. I have tried this product many years ago, and found the light very bright and quite distracting. And so I gave up on using it regularly.

So…what was my experience? Did it give me more energy than ever?? Well —

This new model is much sleeker than the previous model I tried out and the light is softer and  more diffused. Plus, this model allows you to turn down the brightness level (which I don’t believe the other model I tested out featured).

The first time I used the light, I set it on the  maximum brightness and found it gave me a bit of a headache.  So I turned it down a bit for the following week. I’ve been feeling sluggish lately so I was hopeful this could help me as much as the Wake-up Light has helped me. But after a week of it, I can’t say I noticed much difference in my energy levels…

Then I was going to China on a press trip so I packed the goLITE BLU for my trip, and I went determined to not let jet lag hit me like a ton of bricks like it did the first time I went to Asia. To help me do this, I planned to use the light in the morning in China (where it’s a 12-hour time difference from Toronto) to give me an energy boost and help me adapt to my new time zone.

My first few days in China, I was quite optimistic about having beaten jet lag. I didn’t get to use the goLITE BLU for a whole 20 to 30 minutes, though. I kept it on in the hotel bathroom as I got ready to set off for the day, but that was likely about 10 to 15 minutes (and that’s with me running in and out of the bathroom to get dressed and whatnot), so it wasn’t the recommended time. But I did feel quite sprightly the first handful of days in China. Could it be the goLITE BLU?

But then as the trip in  China continued, I was even less compliant. When I’d wake up at 3 a.m., rather than go right back to sleep as I’d done the first few days, I’d pick up my phone (the light from which is energizing) and start dealing with emails, and this then progressed to texting friends in Toronto (because this was when they were reachable given it was the afternoon in Canada).

So, thus far, the goLITE BLU hasn’t done as much for improving my life as the Wake-up Light. But it is possible that it’s my poor habits and 12-hours of time difference (along with coming down with a cold while traveling) that prove too much for the light’s beneficial powers. I plan to continue its use (and hopefully work on increasing the light’s brightness — I still use it at a lower intensity) and see if it boosts my energy levels at all. I do find it difficult to not have my eyes drawn to the light even though it’s not necessary to look into it; I sort of feel like a moth drawn to a flame, my eyes just go towards it, haha.

Have you tried energy light therapy using goLITE BLU or a similar product? I’d love to hear what your experience has been!

I’ll update you on my progress if the goLITE BLU helps me get a natural high…give me all of the energy, I could sure use some extra!

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Leave a Comment April 5, 2016

Healthy Swellness: Philips Wake-up Light

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February’s come to a close and I’d say so long to the  February blues, but the thing is, I didn’t experience them this year.

Part of the reason is the mild winter we have been having here in Toronto (I’m grateful every day that we haven’t been in a deep freeze for weeks and weeks). And yet, we still have many gray skies, and the daylight hours are still limited. The difference in my life this February? Using the Philips Wake-up Light.

To get you  up to speed, if you follow me on Twitter, you may be aware I have some pretty poor sleeping habits. And towards the end of last year, I was suffering from insomnia. Then during the Christmas holidays, I simply could not fall asleep until 5 or 6 a.m. And this meant I’d sleep until noon at the earliest. This wasn’t ideal but I was able to let it slide during the holidays, but once we hit the new year, and I attempted to get up at a more reasonable hour, so that I could email and hold phone calls with people who work regular office hours, well, I was an exhausted mess. Either I’d get up late and miss time I could be working, or on the days I managed to force myself up in the morning, by 1:30 p.m., with my eyelids heavy, I’d nap for several hours.

And when Philips asked me to try out their Philips Vitalight products, I was desperate and ready to try anything. I’d heard of the Wake-up Light before, but I’ll be frank, I thought it sounded like it made sense in theory but I was doubtful and how much better it’d make my wake up routine and how much more refreshed I’d feel. How it works and what it says it’ll do: The light simulates sunlight and it increases in brightness over a period of 30 minutes (so if you set your alarm for 7 a.m., starting at 6:30 a.m., the lamp starts to glow until reaching its maximum brightness at 7 a.m., at which time an alarm goes off — you can choose between two natural sounds or FM radio). The idea is that it’s meant to be a more natural way to wake up (with the sunrise) and as a result, you wake up feeling more refreshed and so rather than dragging yourself out of bed, you can get up more easily.

Sure sounds nice, but c’mon really? I was open to trying it (again, I was feeling so horrible from my wacky sleep pattern) but how could a fancy light and the sound of nature make that much a difference? I’d be in the same tired and weary position by the end of the month.

I WAS WRONG. SO WRONG.

Using the Philips Wake-up Light in February has managed to help me shift my sleep schedule to a more reasonable time (I was also more diligent about forcing myself to get into bed earlier); I now go to bed anywhere from midnight to 2 a.m. most nights and get up before 10 a.m. More surprising to me, though, as I have had to shift my sleep patterns in the past, is how much  more pleasant my wake-up routine is. When I’m still in a sleepy phase, I can sense the “sunshine” getting stronger, even though I haven’t opened my eyes yet. Then comes the birds chirping (that’s my preferred alarm choice) and it’s such a welcome sound — now that I  live in a downtown condo, that’s a sound I hear rarely (and it’s one that I miss from my house where I had a huge front yard tree and I’d always hear birds chirping). I usually hit snooze once or twice, but that’s it; then I get up. In the last month, I’ve had the occasional night where I’ve set the alarm clock on my cell phone  instead, and I get jolted awake, disoriented and hating the incessant beeping of the alarm.

I know it sounds too good to be true, but I feel like this Wake-up Light has changed how I wake up and face each day, turning it from a dreaded groggy, okay cranky, ordeal, to a calm and agreeable routine.

(Looking for the Wake-up Light for yourself? It’s available at London Drugs and amazon.ca and retails for $99.99)

The Philips Wake-up Light isn’t the only Vitalight product I tested out in February. Stay tuned for my review of the goLITE BLU, which is designed to help you feel more energized.

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P.S. I’m not the only one who’s enjoyed the Wake-up Light. This one’s basking in it like it’s actually sunlight!

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Leave a Comment March 1, 2016

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