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Lifewire / Jordan Provost
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.
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.
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 wakeup 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.
Lifewire / Sandra Stafford
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).
Lifewire / Andy Zahn
The Mirari OK to Wake! functions more as a sleep aid than an alarm clock, soothing your children by emitting a soft yellow glow and switching over to green with the morning alarm.
Once the clock turns green, then they know it's okay to get up. If you have a little one who likes to wake up on their own (very early) schedule, then the clock color signals them to stay in bed until a more appropriate hour, giving parents a little more much-needed sleep. Plus, it helps children build healthy sleep and wake habits from a young age. The Mirari’s fun, animated interface invites kids to engage with the device, making it seem more like a bedside companion than an average alarm clock.
The back of the device contains customizable parental controls, allowing users to set the alarms, night-light timers, and brightness. It even features a separate “nap-timer,” which lets users schedule afternoon naps without overriding the morning and evening settings. Our reviewer, Andy, pointed out that one of the most appealing features of the Ok to Wake! its ability to potentially distract your kids while you catch some precious extra Zs.
"A simple and easy to use device that may even help you get some extra sleep by keeping your young children at bay."—Andy Zahn, Product Tester
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.
"A wonderfully soothing alternative to shrill alarms and is a fantastic Bluetooth speaker as well." —Andy Zahn, Product Tester
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.
"A competent device that can be easily integrated into your smart home ecosystem." —Andy Zahn, Product Tester
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.