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For anyone who has a difficult time waking up in the morning, sunrise alarm clocks — alarms which use gradually increasing light to simulate the rising sun — might mean the difference between a cranky morning and a productive one. Scientific studies indicate that by mimicking your body’s natural circadian rhythm and allowing you to wake up slowly rather than yanking you out of REM with a sharp alarm, sunrise alarm clocks can make it easier for you to start your day.
Many light therapy alarms on the market today come equipped with additional features and adjustable settings. We like models that can also be used as a sun lamp, for example, which is helpful for people with Seasonal Affective Disorder in the winter. Many include a wide range of alarm volume and brightness levels, and others can be connected to your smart home device.
Things to Consider When Buying a Sunrise Alarm Clock
The number of additional features and functions you need is a matter of personal taste, but there are a few factors we think are important no matter what clock you choose. You should be able to adjust to the perfect volume and brightness level, for example, and consider how smoothly the lamp transitions to full brightness. Here’s what else to know.
Settings: In general, the more volume and brightness levels a clock has the better, as everyone’s sensitivity to light and sound are a bit different. Additional settings like automatic timers, the ability to set more than one alarm at once, and a variety of alarm sounds are also helpful. Some of our favorite clocks also include a bedtime setting, in which the light gradually decreases at night to mimic a setting sun.
Versatility: Many of these clocks double as a lamp, which can provide the benefits of sunlight during the winter or in geographic locations that don’t get a lot of sun. Many also function as a night light, with a variety of color options to customize your atmosphere.
Operating Time: Most sunrise clocks elevate the brightness levels over a period of 30 minutes. We also take into account how long the light stays on after the alarm goes off and whether this can be adjusted.
Intuitive: User-friendly design is essential, and common complaints about sunrise alarms are that they are too confusing or difficult to use. We’ve found versions that set up easily right out of the box.
1. HeimVision Sunrise Alarm Clock
There’s no competing with our top pick clock, which combines several functions — including voice control, four alarms, seven color and alarm sound options and 20 levels — in one handy device. The sunrise alarm feature begins slowly increasing light around 30 minutes before your alarm, so that by the time it goes off, your room is already fully bright. When it is time for bed, you can program the clock’s bedtime setting, which simulates a sunset.
The device is also a clock, an FM radio, a nightlight, or desk lamp, and all of these settings can be modified and customized to your needs. The alarm comes with several sounds at adjustable volumes to choose from, such as birdsong or piano, while the nighttime setting includes relaxing nature sounds to block out other noise and help lull you to sleep.
And perhaps most conveniently, all of these settings can be controlled using your SmartHome device, like Alexa, using the SmartLife app.
2. LBell Wake Up Light
A small but consequential feature of sunrise alarm clocks is the amount of time the fully brightened “sunlight” stays on after the alarm clock sound has gone off. Some lights only stay on a few minutes or shut off as soon as you stop the alarm. We like that this clock keeps the light and music going for 15 minutes after stopping the alarm — which gives you time to fully wake up and stretch in case you’re tempted to fall right back down on to your pillow.
We also love how adjustable this clock is, which includes settings for volume, brightness, lighting warmth and color, and alarm and lighting time. A USB output provides versatility for charging.
3. Philips SmartSleep Light Therapy Alarm Clock
Heavier sleepers might appreciate the brighter, whiter temperature of this sunrise alarm clock, which some say is more efficacious at waking them up in the morning. It also displays time in a 24-hour format, which some find helpful.
When the sunrise function has reached its full brightness, you’ll hear a gentle beeping alarm, which gradually grows louder the longer you ignore it. While some sleepers would prefer the option to wake up to birdsong instead, there’s no arguing with the classic efficiency of a beep.
4. hOmeLabs Sunrise Alarm Clock
Another sunrise alarm that provides a gentler wake-up call, this hOmelabs clock combines a gradual mock sunrise with the morning alarm sound of your choice, be that nature sounds, or FM radio. The clock is a touch-screen, which is satisfyingly reactive and easy to navigate, especially when it comes to the very prominent snooze button on top of the device, which pauses the alarm sound and light for five minutes.
We don’t love that the light clicks off as soon as the alarm is switched off, but it’s nothing we can’t live with. Choose from multiple color options to match your bedroom decor.