Saffron Drift Light Self-Dimming Sleep bulb review

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Sleep is very important to health.  If you don’t get sufficient sleep, you’ll find yourself unable to deal easily with everyday life, because lack of sleep can negatively impact your emotional state and your mental acuity.  With long-term sleep disruption, you’ll also increase your chances of developing life-threatening illness, like diabetes, heart attack, and stroke.  Knowing these things and actually getting enough sleep don’t always go hand-and-hand, though.  I have a lot of trouble getting to sleep at night.  My problems are more than just bad habits, like wanting to read “just one more chapter”.  A lot of people don’t have insomnia or other sleep disorders;  they do suffer from not wanting to put down that book or turn off that TV, or maybe they just don’t have a pattern for getting ready for bed that primes them to fall asleep easily.  Young children can be particularly resistant to wanting to go to sleep, and struggles to establish and maintain a schedule for their bedtime can be difficult.  Having a set routine can help a child or adult fall to sleep more easily, and the Drift Light bulb from Saffron can help you establish that routine.

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The Drift Light is a 530 lumen, 40W-equivalent LED bulb that uses only 7W of power.  Setting aside the sleep benefits for a moment, the LED Drift Light can save you money.  Actual savings depends on how long you use the bulb each day and energy costs in your area, but Saffron says that you’ll save an average (in the USA) of $11.28 per year for each Drift bulb when they are used for an average of 8 hours per day.  The lifespan of a Drift bulb is 30,000 hours, which is about 30 times that of an incandescent bulb.

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The bulb has a metal heat sink to keep it running cooler than an incandescent bulb, and the diffusing cap ensures that it will shine light equally in a 180 degree arc. The diffuser is plastic, so it is resistant to  drops and bumps.  It has a standard Edison base, so it can be used with most light fixtures and lamps.  You don’t need any special wiring or fixtures to use the Drift Light bulb.  It measures 4.72″ long X 2.36″ at the widest point, so keep that in mind when selecting the fixture you’ll use with the bulb.

You can use the Drift bulb in a lamp or a ceiling fixture, but you cannot use it with any fixture that uses a dimmer switch.  It’s necessary to have an on/off switch to program the bulb’s microprocessor to control the sleep function.

The first step Saffron took to make this bulb sleep-friendly is with the color of the light.  The Drift bulb simulates the light produced by a traditional incandescent bulb; Saffron doesn’t give an actual color temperature for their bulb, though.  Blue light has been shown to suppress melatonin production, which is why activities like watching television or reading on tablets or other self-luminous devices late at night can make it harder to fall asleep.  Humans, over the millennia, have lived with the sun’s light gradually dimming as it sets and having only the reddish light of fires or candles to see by at night.  Until recently, of course.  Incandescents that have been in use for decades are reddish, so they don’t interfere with sleep patterns as much as some of the brighter, whiter LEDs and CFLs that are on the market now.

Okay, incandescent light is better for sleep than cool-white light, but that doesn’t address the routine of getting to sleep.  Saffron added a microprocessor inside the Drift Light bulb to program the bulb to simulate a sunset by having the light fade out over a 37 minute period.  Why 37 minutes?  That’s the average duration of a sunset.

The bulbs aren’t connected to the internet or even to a controller hub.  The bulb is controlled by the fixture’s light switch.  If your fixture holds multiple bulbs, all Drift Light bulbs in the fixture will be programmed simultaneously.  Naturally, only the Drift bulbs will be programmed; if you’ve left traditional bulbs in some of the fixture’s sockets, they’ll stay lighted.

The Drift Light bulbs have three modes: Daylight, Midnight, and Moonlight.  With the Daylight mode, the bulb functions in standard light bulb mode.  You just use the fixture’s switch normally – on or off – to operate the bulb.

Midnight mode is activated when you flip the fixture’s switch twice.  The bulb will flash once to indicate it is in the Midnight mode, and it will begin to fade out over the next 37 minutes.  It will turn off at the end of the countdown period.  Midnight mode is a good final step in your bedtime routine.  You’ve brushed your teeth, gotten your shower, taken the dog out for a last walk, and you’re ready for bed.  The last step is to turn off all other lights in the room and then flick the switch twice to program the Midnight mode.  You’ll have a few minutes to settle in bed, read a few pages, talk to your partner, and get ready to sleep.  As the light gets dimmer and dimmer, you know to put down the book and quieten down.  By the time the light goes out, you should be ready to doze off.

The Midnight mode should be a great way to help your child (or you) develop and follow a nightly routine that helps you fall asleep.  The child won’t feel they’ve been snatched away from what they were doing and told to go to sleep right now.  They’ll ease into going to sleep, and they’ll have a visual signal to let them know when to close their eyes.

The third program is the Moonlight mode.  You’ll program this mode by flipping the switch three times; the light will flash twice to show it’s in the Moonlight mode.  Just like with the Midnight program, the light will gradually fade out, guiding you to settle down and start to drift off to sleep.  Instead of going to dark, the light will fade to a low, nightlight level over 37 minutes.  This mode will work well for young children who need the comfort of a nightlight to sleep well.

I actually had trouble finding a fixture or lamp to use the Drift Light in my house.  Only my kitchen, hallways, and bathrooms have overhead fixtures – and I don’t sleep in any of those.  The lamps I have in my bedroom have two fixtures and a 3-position switch to turn on one, then the other, then both.  Those lamps didn’t work to program the Drift Light bulb.  Luckily, a floor lamp in the bedroom has three fixtures, and each is controlled with its own power switch.

I put the Drift Light bulb in one of the fixtures for my test.  When I was ready to try to go to sleep, I turned off the other two fixtures on the floor lamp and the other lamps in the room, too.  I prepped the Drift Light for Midnight by flipping the switch twice, and the bulb actually did fade out and turn off.  I also have tried the Moonlight mode, and the bulb does visibly fade out to a low level that was bright enough to see to get to the bathroom, but not bright enough to read a book by.

I actually found that using the lamp’s own switch wasn’t the easiest way to program the light.  That floor lamp is plugged into a switched outlet, so I just turn off the two fixtures that have the regular CFLs, then I use the wall switch to program the Midnight mode.  This would work best if I had Drift Light bulbs in all three of the lamp’s fixtures.

It was hard to photograph the bulbs at night, and taking pictures every few minutes disrupted trying to go to sleep, so I took some pictures during the day.  It was very overcast that day, and I took the photos before the sun reached the windows in my bedroom so you could best see the brightness of the light.

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The four photos above show the progression of the Midnight program.  The leftmost picture was taken as soon as the program started.  The next three were at 10 minutes, 26 minutes, and 36 minutes elapsed.  The Drift Light bulb turned off shortly after I took that last photo.  With the Moonlight program, the light would have dimmed but stayed on at roughly the brightness of the fourth photo.

As I mentioned, my sleep problems are too much for a dimming light to overcome, so I didn’t find myself suddenly able to fall asleep in 37 minutes.  However, I do think the Drift Bulb is a great tool to help a child learn to develop good sleep habits by learning to get in the bed and start relaxing and slowing down so he or she can slowly drift off to sleep.  I also think it would help people who are in the habit of thinking, as the comedian Sinbad once said, “I’m paying for this cable, so I have to watch it!” learn new habits, too.  Sleep is important to every facet of your life, so a $29 light bulb that can help you get more sleep seems like a very inexpensive insurance policy.

Source: The Drift Light sample for this review was provided by Saffron. Please visit http://drift-light.com for more info.

 

Product Information

Price:$29 for a single bulb, $99 for a 4-bulb pack, or $239 for a 10-pack
Manufacturer:Saffron
Retailer:Saffron
Requirements:
  • A lamp or ceiling fixture without a dimmer switch
Pros:
  • Can work as a regular money-saving LED bulb
  • Has two programs that mimic a sunset to help you settle in and drift off to sleep
  • Doesn't require special wiring, special fixtures, or an internet connection
Cons:
  • None
Posted in: Health, Fitness, Sports, Home and Kitchen, Reviews
{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Andrew Baker November 20, 2014, 10:20 am

    @Jannet: I have the cure for insomnia, It’s called having an 18 month old. I no longer toss and turn when I go to bed, I’m pretty much unconscious by the time my face hits the pillow.

    OH LOOK it’s 7PM and Zachs asleep, I have some Free time to do what I Wa…zzzzzzzzzz

  • Janet Cloninger November 20, 2014, 11:24 am

    @Andrew I had one of those, and she was an effective sleep aid. It seems like only a couple of years have passed, and my sweet little 18 month-old is now 19 years old and living in a dorm in another city. That gives me a whole new set of sleep problems! 😀 😉

  • Yeppers November 20, 2014, 2:33 pm

    Thank God for never having had sleep problems! I know some people who literally cry because they just can’t get a good nights sleep. Must be awful.

  • Janet Cloninger November 20, 2014, 2:43 pm

    @Yeppers It’s not a lot of fun, for sure. I hope you never have any problems.

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