Does anyone enjoy the sound of an alarm clock? That shrill ringing, that wrenches you from a light slumber, is rarely ever a welcome sound.
You may hope the radio will wake you with soothing tunes, or a ‘get-up-and-go’ jam, but this rarely ever happens. Instead, the tinny sound of breakfast radio is more likely to jolt you awake sharply, or worse, put you back to sleep.
In this cut-throat, deadline filled society, you simply cannot afford to miss your wake up call. Even if it’s still dark outside, duty calls.
As Benjamin Franklin said:
Alarms are an essential part of everyday life – you hate to use them, but cannot function without them.
So what is the alternative?
You’ll be happy to know you can finally throw out that intrusive, squawking device and replace it with the perfect way to begin your morning.
Sunrise alarm clocks are technology’s gift to sleep-lovers. Let’s go through the best options and change the way you tackle the day.
What Is a Sunrise Alarm Clock?
The best way to wake up is, ideally, to natural dawn sunlight. This gradual increase of light aligns with millions of years of human biological history.
Since this is often not an option, human ingenuity has developed the next best thing.
By simulating dawn, studies have shown that artificial light may improve cognitive performance.
Also known as dawn simulators, sunrise alarm clocks replace annoying beeps and trills.
As artificial light sources, they are programmed to slowly increase in intensity over a set period. This is usually between 30 minutes to 40, but some have the option of 15 minutes, and others up to 60 minutes.
The full-spectrum LED light bulbs range from 100-300 lux (light intensity), less than the 500 lux required for daily tasks such as office work, study, and shopping.
There are hundreds of options, so let us help you make the switch to the best sunrise alarm clock to suit your needs.
Whether you are on a budget, looking for extra features, or in search of a light therapy lamp – keep reading to find the best dawn simulator for you.
Here is our list of the best sunrise alarm clocks for 2023
Best Overall: Philips Wake-Up Light HF3520
This is Philips’ best-selling Wake-up Light and is rated as one the top sunrise alarm clocks.
According to Philips’ independent testing, it is the only clinically proven sunrise alarm clock and helps 92% of users get out of bed.
The sunset simulation uses a combination of light and sound that mirrors dawn and allows your body to wake up naturally.
Transitioning from red to orange, to yellow, and then white, it reflects an authentic sunrise.
Winner of the 2016 Women’s Health Well-Thy Awards, a unique selling point of this alarm is it’s Intuitive Dimming display. This means the brightness of the ‘sunlight’ adjusts according to the brightness of the room.
If the morning is exceedingly bright, the light will increase proportionately. If it’s a dull, cloudy morning, it will emit dimmer light.
Over 20-40 minutes, light gradually fills your room, followed by your choice of natural aural ambiance. The result? Full immersion in a complete ‘Rise and Thrive’ experience.
The 5 natural sounds include ocean, spa, rainforest, and birdsong.
In addition, you can switch sunrise to sunset for a relaxing bedtime routine before you sleep.
It is fairly large and may take up quite a bit of space on your bedside table, and the manual programming can be a little confusing, even with the instruction manual.
But great features and a reasonable price still make this is one of the best sunrise alarm clocks available. For those struggling to wake up or fall asleep peacefully, this device is the perfect solution.
Best Tech Features: Philips SmartSleep Connected Sleep and Wake-Up Light HF3670
Previously known as the Somneo, this smartphone-controlled light alarm clock is packed with customizable features rarely found on other devices.
It includes all the basics of a sunlight alarm clock, but extra effects make this a unique light therapy lamp.
The donut-shaped design spreads light at a wider angle compared to other cylindrical shapes. It also boasts high-quality light therapy options and offers four different sunrises. From bright white northern sunrise to a warm pink Caribbean dawn, you can wake up anywhere in the world.
The SleepMapper App also lets you customize light intensity and duration via WiFi.
The tech-savvy sensors measure light, humidity, noise, and room temperature and adjust accordingly. All this information is then displayed in the mobile app.
With numerous light intensities and sounds, you can set different weekday and weekend alarms using the Advanced Alarm Scheduler.
You might think the setup would be complicated but it is surprisingly easy. As soon as you switch on the lamp, you get directions to download the app and instructions on how to control it.
88% of users also say they wake up better than they did before using wake-up light therapy.
According to Philips, this wake-up light alarm improves mood, increases energy, and leaves users feeling refreshed upon waking.
Best Budget Buy: hOmeLabs Sunrise Alarm Clock
This fun, budget-friendly alarm clock would be perfect for the kids. You may expect a low-quality product at this price but prepare to be wonderfully surprised! This is one of the highest quality sunrise alarms around, featuring a solid metal stand for stability We’ve all made a swipe at our cumbersome alarms, so it’s a good thing this one’s not so easy to topple.
The sensitive touch screen is pleasantly reactive, making for easy use and navigation. The large ‘easy-to-hit’ snooze button on top of the clock face pauses the sound and light for five minutes.
A great addition is the option to switch off or dim the time display. If you find those large green numbers disconcerting, you’ll appreciate this feature.
It comes in 8 colorful LED light options to match any decor and also works as a bedside lamp.
Like most sun imitation alarms, it has nature-inspired sounds that play throughout the 30-minute wake-up sequence as well as FM radio.
One disadvantage may be that the light switches off as soon as you switch off the alarm, but considering all the other advantages and the price, this is still an awesome budget buy.
Best Innovative Tech: Casper Glow Light
Designed as a replacement to your bedside lamp and home alarm clock, the Casper Glow Light is an app-controlled light therapy alarm that includes a built-in battery, wireless charger, and smart light sensors.
But these top-notch features don’t come cheap. This is one of the most expensive alarms on the market, with one light costing $89 and a pair going for $169.
The offerings may be worth it though, with a warm glow that is perfect for reading but still encourages you to sleep. The Casper Glow Light also features sensors that change the light to match the brightness of the room.
This smart device has no buttons, instead, it works using a range of gestures. To turn on the light, simply flip the orb and flip it again to switch it off.
Twisting will brighten or dim the light and shaking the device turns it into a dim flashlight. The buttons on both ends keep the light at the same brightness for 45 minutes.
Positioned as a sleep-aid, with the tagline ‘A magical light for better sleep’, the Casper Glow Light is not specifically designed as a wake-up alarm. It also suffers from the lack of a clock, radio, or soundscape, and requires you to set the alarm using the mobile app.
Best Sound Options: iHome Zenergy
If you are a fan of sound simulations, this light alarm clock offers the most relaxing way to rouse you from sleep and ease you into your morning routine.
From guided breathing to soothing natural tones, there is a soundtrack for everyone to wake up to. Bluetooth capabilities also let you wirelessly stream music or your favorite podcast.
If you wake up feeling panicked, this light will be your personal stress reliever.
The 4-7-8 breathing coach uses a calming voice guide that synchronizes with pulsing light effects to help you control your breath and lower your heart rate.
Imagine sunrays as simulated sunrise gently moves from a dim white to bright yellow. With three tranquil light therapy modes, it works to improve your energy levels when you wake up.
The iHome Zenergy App allows you to customize the light and sound options wirelessly.
Although positioned as a sleep aid, the dual alarms can wake you at different times, with a different sound on every day of the week.
Best Light Therapy: Lumie Bodyclock Shine 300
Used by the British Swimming Team when they have to wake up early in dark, winter mornings, it can also be used to treat seasonal affective disorder during the winter months. It includes an FM radio, auto-dimming display, 14 soothing sounds, and a tap-control snooze button. You can set up to five of your favorite stations, and sync them to the light so the sound fades as it dims.
A great addition to the default melodies is the option of adding your own MP3 tracks using the SD card reader. As expected, calm, illuminating light leaves you energized from the moment you wake up. Plus, you never have to worry about accidentally over-sleeping. The back-up battery automatically kicks in case of a power failure.
What To Consider When Looking For a Sunrise Alarm
When switching to a sunlight alarm, it is important to consider all the options available.
You need to decide on features such as brightness, colors, size, as well as sticking to your budget.
Let’s take you through a few of the major considerations you will need to keep in mind before making your purchase.
The cost factor will probably influence your buying decision greatly. With a budget in place, you can then shop around for a sunrise alarm clock that won’t break the bank.
Your needs will determine how much you are willing to spend. If you live in an area that regularly experiences power cuts, you may opt for a more expensive option that includes a power bank.
Similarly, if you don’t want the hassle of manually setting the alarm, you could choose a more high-end option that connects to your smartphone.
If you do not need fancy features or are simply buying a device for a child’s room, look for more budget-friendly options.
The main reason for buying a sunrise alarm clock is, obviously, the simulation of sunlight. Some may wish for a gradual brightening of light while others don’t mind a sudden burst of light.
The more light therapy phases you choose, the more expensive your clock will be. Think of the ‘sunrise effect’ you desire and choose an appropriate device.
How bright do you want your sunrise to be? For how long do you want the ‘sun’ to rise? Make sure to answer these questions before making your order.
Adjustable Colors and Brightness Settings
Some sunrise alarm clocks offer color options if you wish to customize your ‘indoor dawn’.
From calming blue to bright orange, take the time to explore the range of colors offered.
If you have a sensitivity to bright light, look for alarms with custom brightness settings and light intensity options.
You can decide if you want to wake up to dim light, or if you are a heavy sleeper, you might prefer a brighter light setting.
Consider the positioning of the alarm and the direction it will shine towards to wake you up. Ideally, it should be close enough to your face to trigger a reaction to the light.
Smaller lights will sit comfortably on your bedside table without cluttering the space.
Alternatively, you can choose a bigger, bright-light alarm placed further away from your bed. It should still be able to reflect light in your direction and wake you up.
You will need to think about the situation in which you will be placing the alarm clock. Do you have frequent power outages? Will you be traveling with the light? Do you prefer USB ports for charging?
The options are endless. You can choose a battery-powered device to be sure it will not switch off. Some can also be connected to a power bank, and the traditional socket option is always available.
Mobile App Integration
For the tech-savvy, take advantage of mobile technology and choose a light that you configure from your smartphone.
You can find alarms that have an app that will allow you to set the alarm remotely. Before making a purchase, check the app is compatible with your phone’s operating system.
Radio and Sounds
If you want to combine an AM/FM radio with your sunrise alarm, shop around for a model that combines light with sound.
Additionally, some alarm clocks feature calming nature sounds that will either soothe you to sleep or calmly wake you up. Research shows that nature sounds reduce anxiety and stress, so what better way to wake up or fall asleep?
Compared to artificial tones – like the shrill ringing of a normal alarm – these relaxing sounds also promote better rest.
By reducing the fight-or-flight response caused by being startled, sleep patterns improve.
Ease of Use and Programming
You will need to think of the person using the alarm clock. For a young child or an elderly person, find a model that is easy to program and has large, accessible controls.
Automatic programming allows greater accessibility, meaning there is no need to set the alarm every day.
Switching Over to Sunrise Alarm Clocks
With their rising popularity in the market, there are plenty of options that can meet any specific criteria. You can mix and match the features and find a balance between price and convenience.
In addition to using sunlight alarms, expert advice is often the easiest way to achieve a good night’s rest.
Don’t wait to start enjoying your mornings once more.