The 7 Best Wake-Up Light Therapy Alarm Clocks of 2021

Never wake up on the wrong side of the bed again

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The Rundown
Best Overall:
Philips HF3520 at Amazon
"It features 20 different colored brightness settings."
Runner-Up, Best Overall:
Philips HF3505 at Amazon
"It has two gradually increasing natural sounds for a more traditional wake-up."
Best Multifunctional:
Philips Somneo HF3650/60 at Amazon
"There are also a number of wind-down modes that do the reverse of the wake-up."
"The 10,000 lux UV-free light perfectly mimics sunlight."
"Has a bevy of other features beyond just the alarm setting."
"Sync up the device to existing Google Assistant, Smart Life, and Amazon Alexa."
"For a simple and affordable wake-up alarm clock, the Sunrise Alarm Clock from hOmeLabs gets you the basics without necessary frills."

If you're looking for a way to battle the dwindling daylight hours, our collection of the best light therapy alarm clocks are here to help. These bedside alarms offer an excellent alternative to our typical alarms, by gently rousing you with a simulated sunrise. In essence, these are the perfect alarms for people who hate alarms, allowing you to bask in the sweet embrace of darkness with blackout curtains without totally shutting our natural light.

If you're looking for more great ways to add a little more intelligence to your everyday routine, make sure to read our list of smart home and gadget reviews before taking a look at our best sunrise alarm clocks.

Best Overall: Philips HF3520 Wake-Up Light Therapy Lamp

Philips HF3520
What We Like
  • Simple design

  • Expansive brightness settings for interface and light

  • Good audio quality

  • Readable interface that adjusts to room's light levels

What We Don't Like
  • Unreliable during power outages

  • Large and clunky - not for space saving apartments

The Philips HF3520 is the best sunrise alarm clock, featuring 20 different colored brightness settings and offers a steadily increasing light beginning at 20 to 30 minutes prior to your scheduled alarm time. Additionally, the HF3520 offers 200 lux maximum light intensity and no replacement bulb is needed for the life of the unit, which provides years of value and better mornings.

Beyond the colored sunrise simulation, Philips does offer a more traditional alarm style with an FM radio and tap snooze function that allows for an extra nine minutes of sleep. The non-slip rubber feet provide easy placement anywhere on a nightstand where the HF3520 can pull dual-duty as a bedside lamp for reading or relaxing. While there’s bound to be a transition period from a traditional alarm to a wake-up light, the chance to have more energy and better concentration right from the get-go make the HF3520 a must-own.

Light Settings: 20 / 300 Lux | Bluetooth: No | Radio: FM | APP Enabled: No

"Designed for basic use and featuring some solid amenities like a reading light and a decent radio, this alarm would be a solid addition to any (large) bedside table." — Rebecca Isaacs, Product Tester

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Philips HF3505 Wake-Up Light

Philips HF3505
What We Like
  • Simple interface

  • Lightweight

  • Good night visibility

What We Don't Like
  • Strange design

  • No backup battery

  • Limited alarm sound options

  • Expensive for its functionality

Utilizing a unique combination of light and sound, the Philips HF3505 offers a gradually increasing light over a 30-minute period prior to your pre-set alarm time. The light simulation has 10 separate intensities at 200 lux of maximum light, so buyers can find the appropriate brightness for their morning wake up. 

Beyond the light alarm clock, the HF3605 also has two gradually increasing natural sounds for a more traditional wake-up or an FM radio that gradually increases in volume over a 90-second period. Additionally, the HF3505 offers a snooze button that provides an extra nine minutes of sleep before it attempts to jump-start your day all over again. If there’s any notable omission to the HF3505, it’s the lack of a bedside reading lamp function.

Light Settings: 10 / 200 Lux | Bluetooth: No | Radio: FM | APP Enabled: No

"The Philips HF3505 is a good wake-up light, and the brand name recognition is appealing." — Rebecca Isaacs, Product Tester

Best Multifunctional: Philips Somneo HF3650/60 Sleep and Wake-Up Light Therapy Lamp Review

Philips Somneo
What We Like
  • Sleek, modern design

  • Easy, friendly interface that shifts with the light in the room

  • Expansive brightness settings for interface and light

  • Battery backup for power outages

What We Don't Like
  • Demanding intitial setup

  • Large and heavy

Philips has sort of become the industry standard for light therapy, colored mood lighting, and, of course, wake-up lights. Their top-of-the-line option, the Somneo, is also one of the latest in their wake-up light lineup. And while it sports a high price tag, it gives you a lot of features built-in. First, the wakeup feature: by setting the sunrise option, the clock will begin a gradual sunrise where the light gets brighter and colder as it gets closer to your actual wakeup time. But outside that core feature, it also offers a variety of wake-up sounds from a beachscape to a peaceful forest.

There are also a number of wind-down modes that do the reverse of the wake-up — also with different accompanying soundscapes. If you are going for more of a meditative wind-down, you can also turn on the breathing mode that pulses the light and sounds to help you breathe more regularly. There’s a built-in radio, an aux input for your own music, a USB charging input, and even a light-temperature-adjustable reading light. Plus, with a halo-like design, it looks really nice on your bedside table.

Light Settings: 25 / 310 Lux | Bluetooth: No | Radio: FM | APP Enabled: No

"With unique features and great audio and light quality, the Philips Somneo is a worthwhile investment for anyone who wants to add to their relaxing bedtime or wake-up routine." — Rebecca Isaacs, Product Tester

Best Light Therapy: Aura Daylight Therapy Lamp

Aura Daylight Therapy Lamp
What We Like
  • Built-in timer

  • Adjustable light levels between 3,500 to 10,000 lux

  • UV-free light

  • Bulb is included in the two-year warranty

What We Don't Like
  • More expensive than other lamps

  • No handle for easy carrying

  • No automatic start option

  • 10,000 lux intensity only reaches a short distance

The sudden popularity of wake-up light alarm clocks has been great for achieving a more peaceful way of getting up in the morning. For some people, sometimes you need a little help throughout the day as well and that’s where the Aura Daylight Therapy Lamp comes in with 10,000 Lux of bright light that can help naturally power you through the day.

The dual tilt angles (85 and 70 degrees) offer comfortable positioning, but it’s also able to be mounted to the wall. The 10,000 lux UV-free light perfectly mimics sunlight, which allows for a natural boost in mood without the caffeine kick. The extra benefits of increased energy, focus and concentration are all aided by three levels of output, including 3,500 Lux for the Aura’s lowest setting. Lighting can last as long as 60 minutes or as short as 10 minutes (it’s manufactured with 10-minute intervals for treatment and an automatic shutoff once treatment is complete).

Light Settings: 10,000 Lux | Bluetooth: No | Radio: No | APP Enabled: No

"The simple but functional Aura Daylight Therapy Lamp is great for people who want to wake up to the energizing light of the sun without being bound by the sun’s schedule or exposed to harmful UV rays." — Sandra Stafford, Product Tester

Best Value: iHome Zenergy Bedside Sleep Therapy Machine

iHome Zenergy Bedside Sleep Therapy Machine
What We Like
  • Effective light and sound therapy

  • Excellent audio quality

  • Attractive design

What We Don't Like
  • Controls are not very intuitive

  • Not compatible with smart home systems and AI assistants

  • Built-in microphone is no good for phone calls

The iHome Zenergy clock works like a typical light therapy alarm clock: ten minutes before your alarm is supposed to go off, the clock will emit simulated sunlight. Natural sounds (or the radio) will then gently wake you up at your specified time. But the iHome Zenergy Bedside Sleep Therapy machine also has a bevy of other features beyond just the alarm setting. And while it isn’t the cheapest clock on this list, these extra features mean you get great value for your money.

The iHome Zenergy comes with 20 different light and sound patterns, including four different white noise settings. These are meant for more than simply waking up — there are patterns for stress relief, getting energized, going to sleep, and more. Everything, including the alarm, can be controlled on the clock itself or by connecting it to your phone via Bluetooth or aux cable and downloading the iHome app. The app, which is iOS and Android compatible, has full descriptions of each sound and light program and what time of day they’re best for. The clock’s phone connectivity also means it can double as a Bluetooth speaker.

Considering all the extra features beyond the light therapy alarm settings, the iHome Zenergy Bedside Sleep Therapy Machine is a multi-purpose device worth the price. When Andy reviewed the Home for us, he pointed out specifically how much he liked the excellent audio quality and sound/light therapy features.

Light Settings: Color / 10 / 1,000 Lux | Bluetooth: Yes | Radio: FM | APP Enabled: Yes

"A wonderfully soothing alternative to shrill alarms and is a fantastic Bluetooth speaker as well." —Andy Zahn, Product Tester

Best Budget: HeimVision Sunrise Alarm Clock A80S

HeimVision Sunrise Alarm Clock A80S
What We Like
  • Smart home connectivity

  • Basic but useful light and sound therapy

  • Attractive design

What We Don't Like
  • Tinny audio quality

  • Limited light therapy options

  • No Bluetooth connectivity

The HeimVision Sunrise Alarm Clock doesn’t have the same brand name recognition as some of the other wake-up lights on this list, but it delivers many of the same features at a price that won’t keep you up at night.

The HeimVision clock wakes you up gradually with a light that starts out dim red and brightens to white, mimicking the color of sunrise. You can also choose one of seven different alarm sounds to accompany the light. Options include nature sounds like chirping birds and running water, regular beeping alarms for heavier sleepers, and FM radio. There is also a one-touch nightlight setting and an oversized snooze button so you can get an extra 15 minutes when you need it. 

For smart home enthusiasts, the HeimVision A80S offers even more. Download the companion app on your mobile device to remotely change the settings, schedule regular alarms, and sync up the device to existing Google Assistant, Smart Life, and Amazon Alexa smart home systems. You can still use the wake-up light and access its settings without the app, but it adds another level of convenience and remote control for those who want it. Andy Zahn, who reviewed the HeimVision for us, loved its great smart home integration options.

Light Settings: Color / 20 / 1,000 Lux | Bluetooth: No | Radio: FM | APP Enabled: Yes

"A competent device that can be easily integrated into your smart home ecosystem." —Andy Zahn, Product Tester

Best Basic: HomeLabs Sunrise Alarm Clock

What We Like
  • Very affordable price

  • Supports wake-up and sunset simulation

  • Multiple colorful LED light options

  • Touchscreen interface and easily visible clock

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't have sophisticated programmable options

  • No battery backup

If you need some help getting up on a cold winter morning, but don't want to shell out hundreds of dollars for a brand name option, the HomeLabs Sunrise Alarm Clock is the choice for you. This basic wake-up therapy alarm clock has all the key features you need. It has a warm LED light that can be set to gradually brighten the room 30 minutes before your alarm. It also has a Sleep timer with sunset simulations, letting it dim the room before you go to bed and doubling as a night light.

There are several sounds to pick from, eight different colored light options, nature sounds, a built-in FM radio. The clock's face has an LED touchscreen that shows the time and allows you to control the three brightness settings. You won't get some higher-end options like a smart voice assistant or battery backup, but for the price it's hard to beat.

Light Settings: Color / 3 / 1,000 Lux | Bluetooth: No | Radio: AM / FM | APP Enabled: No

Final Verdict

If you're tired of traditional alarms, we wholeheartedly recommend the Philips HF3520. In addition to being a functional alarm with a modern design, this model includes FM radio functionality and has enough brightness to serve as a bedside reading lamp as well. For a feature-packed option with great value, we also like the Zenergy Bedside Sleep Therapy Machine. It has sunlight options, 20 different lights and sounds, and supports iOS and Android.

About Our Trusted Experts

Rebecca Isaacs has been writing for Lifewire since 2019. She's covered a variety of products focusing on smart home, and reviewed a large number of the wake-up light therapy alarm clocks on this list. She loved the Philips HF3520 for its reliable set of features and multiple brightness options and sounds.

Sandra Stafford has been reviewing products for Lifewire since 2019. Specializing in pet devices and smart home, Sandra reviewed the Aura Daylight Therapy Lamp, praising it for its adjustable light levels and safe UV-free light.

Andy Zahn has reviewed products for Lifewire since 2019. As a tech generalist, he's reviewed a wide range of devices, including the HeimVision Sunrise Alarm Clock which he liked for its smart home connectivity.


Are sunrise alarm clocks better than standard alarms for waking up?
There is some evidence that being exposed to light in the morning can help prepare the body to wake up in a more natural way than an audio alarm, according to a study at the US National Library of Medicine. Light signals our body to prepare for the day by elevating core temperature and cortisol levels, while simultaneously decreasing melatonin levels that induce feelings of sleepiness and fatigue.

Will a light alarm clock work for heavy sleepers?
Because light alarm clocks are generally less bracing and impactful than traditional alarms, they may not be suitable for some heavy sleepers. We recommend the first few times you use a new light alarm clock you don't rely exclusively on them to make sure you're awake in time for an important event: set the light alarm clock for several minutes before your standard alarm goes off, and see if it prompts you to wake up.

What about a sunrise alarm app?
While sunrise alarm apps may be a cheaper alternative than a dedicated light therapy/sunrise alarm, they're generally a case of getting what you pay for. Sunrise alarm apps tend to emit weaker light that does a poor job of filling a room the way natural, ideal light would, and are therefore often significantly less effective at signaling our body to prepare for the day.

What to Look for in a Light Therapy Alarm Clock

Brightness settings - The more brightness settings an alarm clock has, the more gradually the light will increase. Most have a minimum of 10 settings, but some premium options have 20 or more.

Light intensity - Light intensity, measured in lux, indicates how bright the light gets at its peak. A light with a 200 lux maximum is a solid bet, although some models have lights up to 10,000 lux; the difference isn’t as big as it sounds.

Design - Functionality aside, design is a matter of personal preference. Some people like the look of a round alarm clock that mimics the sun, while others prefer a more traditional design. Compact travel models make it easy to take your gadget on the go, and still, others can be mounted on the wall.

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