Not a solution: Bedside wake-up lights/alarm clocks.
These tacky wake-up light alarm clocks aren't any more complex or expensive (materials-wise) than your average $20 alarm clock, but because they're often marketed as "beauty products" or "therapeutic products" (for such magical side effects as "improved mood" and "more energy") the cheap ones are often $100 or more. Personally I don't buy those sketchy claims, I just want to wake up in some light!
Solution: Programmable Timer/Light Switch, $35
Packaging pictured with my awesome desktop wallpaper.
I grabbed the AUBE TI032-3W from Rona at Preston Crossing for $35 after finding good reviews online. It features seven memory slots where you can easily program your light's behaviour. I've used five memory slots by setting it to turn on at 6:15am and turn off at 7:00am each weekday.
Here's the control panel. Future bedroom!!
When that little switch is set to "on" (it really means "auto") the switch follows the programs you specify. However, you can also override the programs at any time by pushing the outer faceplate - it's one big button. So on a Monday when my light turns on at 6:15am with my alarm, I can hop out of bed and turn it off at 6:20am - it doesn't have to stay on until 7am, as I've programmed it to do. But if I forget to turn off my light, it will turn off at 7am. Similarly, I can turn on my light at any time during a period where it's programmed to stay off.
The panel under the LCD closes to become one big on/off button.
This $35 device took me under 15 minutes to install. Basically I just took out my old manual light switch and connected this one. Even though the installation was easy, if you're unfamiliar with electrical wiring and HOW TO DO IT SAFELY I would highly recommend finding someone with experience - preferably an electrician - to help you out.
5/5 stars so far!! As the days keep getting longer, I am looking forward to not waking up in pitch blackness.