That’s why we’ve tested and researched sunrise alarms. These clocks aim to recreate natural dawns and purport to help ease you into the morning. Our favorite is the Philips SmartSleep HF3520 Wake-Up Light(available at Amazon for $169.99) for its realistic sunrise light, high-quality speakers, and easy-to-learn interface. A combination of our testing and market research helped us find an option for everybody.
The recommendations in this guide are based on thorough product and market research by our team of expert product reviewers. The picks are based on examining user reviews, product specifications, and, in some limited cases, our experience with the specific products named.
Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light
The Philips SmartSleep Wake-up Light is one of the pricier sunrise alarm clocks we tested. Most of the investment clearly goes into the light itself, which is what pushed this clock to the top of our list.
Its frosted matte plastic produced one of the most realistic wake-up light sunrises (and sunsets), growing from a deep red into a bright, warm white over 30 minutes. It eased me into my mornings, always waking me up before the alarm chimed, and I felt noticeably more awake throughout the day.
The name “SmartSleep” is somewhat misleading. You don’t get features like colorful lighting, breathing or meditation exercises, a plethora of soundscapes, or connection with other smart home gadgets. Instead, it has five fairly-realistic nature sounds and a few small buttons around the top to set the alarm, get ready for bed, or listen to a built-in FM radio.
However, the features this device lacks aren’t necessarily helpful for sleep, nor even useful in general. This alarm excels at what it’s designed to do: simulate sunrise with a high quality light. That’s the real focus here, with 20 gorgeous brightness settings to personalize the intensity of your sunrise.
As far as bedtime routines, it offers a realistic, soothing sunset function (basically, the sunrise in reverse) that can work as a reading light before your room fully darkens. You can control the settings with the simple, intuitive LED screen.
Our former sleep writer, Lindsey Vickers, is mindful about using electronics before bedtime, and liked not having to fiddle with a mobile app. On the other hand, I can’t quite break the phone-before-bed habit, so I was fine with or without an app.
Something to note: The first alarm I received was a lemon. Fortunately, Philips’ support was able to quickly send a replacement.
Overall, for those who want a realistic sunrise and sunset, the Philips SmartSleep is our top choice. The light engulfed my room in a saturated glow that felt extremely natural and woke me up feeling ready for the day.
The Jall Wake Up Light and the Titiroba Wake Up Light are identical products in different branding. If a budget device appeals to you, buy the one you can find more easily.
I thoroughly enjoyed the sunset and sunrise simulation on both. Despite feeling on the cheap side, the light worked beautifully and had a range of intensity choices. The product description says it's designed "especially for heavy sleepers."
As with the Philips products, I found myself waking up slightly before the alarm tone. Besides the sun simulation, the light has seven colorful glows that were a nice touch for creating ambiance. Unfortunately, setup wasn’t the most straightforward. You’ll definitely want to read the provided instructions to learn the controls.
Additionally, the low price became evident when the speakers were in use. All three alarm tones—forest insect, ocean waves, and creek sound—sounded muffled and low quality. Not exactly the relaxing experience I was hoping for.
This model costs roughly the same regardless of the “brand” you choose. For the price, we think it’s a decent choice. Just know you get what you pay for in terms of quality. It may not last forever.
Philips SmartSleep Connected Sleep and Wake-Up Light
For a more deluxe bedside device, the Philips Connected Sleep and Wake-Up Light offers some cool “smart” features. You’ll get a similar sunrise and sunset experience to our Best Overall pick, but you also get an intuitive touchscreen interface and a light-guided breathing exercise for mindfully winding down or starting your day. A free, in-depth app, the Philips SleepMapper, offers real-time data about your sleeping environment.
One major drawback: The doughnut design doesn’t produce the same light intensity as the Best Overall pick's dome shape. Still, the quality of the light was just as stunning. The simulated sunrise gradually shifted from a deep red into an orange, then a bright, warm white—just not as brightly.
The high-end SmartSleep Connected offers several sunrise color schemes that emit different hues and tones. Meanwhile, the lower-priced SmartSleep Wake-Up Light only has one. It boils down to preference: one high-quality light mode, or several nearly-as-great modes. The touchscreen controls are intuitive and the app is easy to navigate, and both give you access to all of the alarm’s features.
Another standout feature is that the device monitors the bedroom’s ambient environment. It records room temperature, humidity, light level, and decibels to provide analysis and advice on how to improve sleep quality. This could be helpful in identifying causes of trouble sleeping.
One small downside is that the setup process was more involved than others. I paired the alarm to my home’s Wi-Fi and the SleepMapper iPhone app, and it took a moment for the alarm to reconnect with both every night. Despite this minor flaw, it’s a great tool for learning more about and potentially improving your sleep. As long as you’ll use the lofty features, they’re worth shelling out for.
The Hatch Restore is the most aesthetically pleasing of the lot we tested, down to the sleek packaging it arrives in. This alarm clock is much smaller than some of the others, making it a great option for someone with limited bedside real estate.
The Hatch offers incredible customization via its smartphone app. The first time I used the alarm, I was overwhelmed by the number of choices available. In addition to working as a sunrise alarm, it can also help implement a nightly routine.
It comes loaded with a variety of nature sounds and white noise soundscapes, bedtime stories, and guided meditations. It also offers 22 sunrise and sunset color gradients, customizable brightness and hue intensity, and more.
Despite plenty of colorways, the bulb didn’t quite mimic sunrise or sunset. Instead, it was just a pretty light to fall asleep or wake up to. Other brands like Philips better replicated natural sunlight and the effects of rising and setting. That’s worth considering if you really want a sunrise alarm.
Sleep writer Lindsey Vickers reviewed the Hatch Restore and complained that in her month of testing, the sunrise never woke her up. Instead, it fell to the alarm chime.
I had no problem waking up to the light before the alarm tone. Perhaps I’m a lighter sleeper, or my bedroom is so dark that I was extra sensitive to light. Still, if you’re a deep sleeper with a semi-lit room, it may not be the best bet.
One caveat: Most of Hatch’s meditation and soundscape options are locked behind a $49.99 yearly subscription. However, you can enjoy a free trial of the subscription for six months.
Despite not ranking as our top pick, the Hatch Restore was one of my favorite sunrise alarms to use. I loved its sleek design, convenience, and customization. Still, the personalization comes with an extra cost, and its light bulb wasn’t the best in its class.
UK-based brand Lumie specializes in SAD light therapy products, wake-up lights, and skincare lights with an emphasis on scientific research. I thoroughly enjoyed the Lumie Bodyclock Shine, despite its limited lighting options. As the “sun” began to rise, I pleasantly awoke before the alarm sounded, and found the quality of the bulb almost as good as Philips.
The Lumie only has one color scheme. However, you can adjust the brightness, the dome diffuses light efficiently across the room, and it offers a gorgeous sunset. While the light woke me up with no problem, it doesn’t feel as realistic as the Philips SmartSleep. Despite its gorgeous pinks and reds, it lacks some of those more natural yellow and orange hues.
Similar to the Hatch Restore, this alarm clock ranks high in aesthetics with its bright LED display and a decorative cloth base covering the speakers. The clock itself felt lightweight—almost cheap—but nothing I’d be afraid of breaking anytime soon. The Bodyclock Shine 300 features 15 sounds—including some unique ones, like “Kitten Purring” and “Café” (which sounds like a bustling coffee shop).
I had difficulty with the snooze button the first few mornings. I gingerly tapped the device's bulb, but the alarm didn’t stop. It wasn’t until I tapped it with more force that the snooze function finally kicked in. If you’re anything like me, the idea of slapping an expensive device too hard comes with some anxiety.
We wouldn’t go as far to suggest these sunrise alarms are light therapy devices, and we aren’t medical experts. Still, we think many people who use them stand to see great benefits. Even for those without certain medical conditions, these alarms can make waking up easier.
The simulations work by emitting a light that gradually grows brighter. The light penetrates your eyelids and triggers the body’s natural wake-up response. This makes waking up less jarring and easier than when blaring an alarm tone.
Most average consumers can use and may benefit from dawn simulation. Studies show that dawn simulation can help to improve well-being, mood, and cognitive performance. All of those factors can contribute to how we feel throughout the day.
There are plenty of options out there to choose from, many of which go beyond just a dawn simulation light. You’ll find colorful sunset modes, meditation exercises, bedtime sunset simulations, and more.
Can Sunrise Alarm Clocks Improve Your Sleep?
Humans operate on what’s known as a “circadian rhythm.” It’s a set of physical, mental, and behavioral changes that help set our natural biological clock over a 24-hour period. Light and darkness can affect that natural rhythm.
This natural rhythm can be thrown off by external factors, such as jet lag or blue light-emitting electronics. When that happens, it can affect bodily functions like hormone release, digestion, and body temperature.
Working hours often dictate sleep schedules, and constant access to electronics makes it difficult to avoid blue light. It’s never been easier to stray from your body’s biological clock.
That’s where sunrise alarms can come in. We wouldn’t go as far as to say these will fix your circadian rhythm, especially if you continue to use phones at night. But morning sunlight exposure is key to maintaining your body’s natural cycle, and these devices might help.
Felicity Warner is a Boston-based writer, covering all things timely and trending with Reviewed's Audience Development team. In her spare time, Felicity enjoys thrift and vintage shopping and perfecting the art of latte-making at home.
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