The 8 Best Wake-Up Light Therapy Alarm Clocks to Buy in 2018

Never wake up on the wrong side of the bed again

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The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Philips HF3520

4.3

The Philips HF3520 wake-up light features 20 different colored brightness settings, the HF3520 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, the 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.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Philips HF3505

3.6

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 wake-up light, 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.

Best Light Therapy: Circadian Optics Lumos

4

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 Day Light 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).

Best Design: Electrohome

3.9

Stylish design aside, the Electrohome has a gentle alarm that can keep you energized in the morning with a gradually increasing light as your alarm time gets closer. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer the same varying levels of brightness as a dedicated wake-up light, but what it lacks in options it more than makes up for in style and looks. If you’re in desperate need of a few more minutes of sleep, the Electrohome offers a sensor-activated snooze function that lets you wave your hand in front of it. Assisting the more natural sleep function are the four separate dimming options for the clock display, including a screen-off option for eliminating any extra light during the night.

Best Value: iHome Zenergy Bedside Sleep Therapy Machine

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 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.

Best Multifunctional: Philips Somneo

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. 

Best Budget: totobay

If you’re looking for sunrise simulation on the cheap, the totobay wake-up light sunrise simulation alarm clock is an ideal choice. The totobay features a wake-up light that will help you gently wake from a deep sleep by gradually increasing light from 10 percent to 100 percent over a 30-minute period. On the flip side, the sunset simulation will begin at 100 percent light intensity and gradually decrease to help you fall asleep in a more natural way. With 10 adjustable brightness settings, the totobay offers touch control for changing the various settings or choosing from one of the six natural music sounds or seven different colors (warm-white, green, red, blue, purple, orange and indigo).

Beyond the natural music sounds that can serve as a more traditional alarm, the totobay includes an FM radio with your choice of radio station. Additionally, the snooze function offers a gentle touch of the lamp and provides five more minutes of sleep before playing again. One bonus is the multiple charging methods (USB, AC adapter or AAA batteries) for ensuring that even in the event of a power loss, the alarm will still go off as needed. 

Best for Help Falling Asleep: Veholion Light Therapy Lamp

For those who have just as much trouble falling asleep as they do waking up in the morning, then the Veholion may be your solution for healthier sleeping habits. At night, the lamp emits red light wavelengths, which can help increase melatonin levels. It operates on a timer, allowing you to switch between three options: 15, 30, and 60 minutes before switching off. Additionally, the clock offers soothing sound therapy, with four sound recordings to block out distracting noises and lull you to sleep.

For the mornings, the Veholion provides similar features to other products on this list: the alarm is designed to mimic a natural sunrise, gradually increasing to full intensity. The five-natural alarm sounds gradually begin at 10 percent brightness and works its way to 100 percent brightness 30 minutes prior to your preset alarm time. There’s also a sound alarm with a “snooze” option. For daily use, the Veholion makes for a wonderful desk lamp: cycle through different levels of brightness, from a gentle, warm glow, to a crisp, bright light for reading or for work. Or, for a bit of relaxation, set the mood with the color of your choosing (or auto-cycle through the full RGB spectrum). With easy-to-reach touch controls, three levels of bedside lighting, and a battery backup in case of power failure, the Tecboss Bedside Lamp Wake Up Light is the perfect addition to any nightstand.

Best Features: Sharp Sunrise Simulator

Sunrise Simulator Alarm Clock with Blue Tooth Or USB ports White - Sharp
Courtesy of Target.com

If you’re in the market for a speaker/sunrise light combo, and you don’t want to break the bank, then the Sharp Sunrise Simulator might be your best bet. For starters, the sunrise functionality acts with up to 40 minutes of pre-alarm, gradual wake-up lighting to help trick your body into gradually waking up before the alarm jolts you from sleep. The clock display is pretty basic, showing only the time and a few key LED status indicators.

There’s a USB output that will charge your smartphone or tablet, and it gives you the added benefit of offering two amps of power, meaning that it’s a faster charge than the standard USB brick. The real kicker with this clock is its added Bluetooth connectivity. What’s cool here is that you can connect it with your phone and use it as a Bluetooth speaker, so not only can you quickly play music, you can also use your own music as your alarm clock.

Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best alarm clocks on the market today.

Tested by

How We Tested

Our reviewers spent 31 hours testing five of the most popular light therapy alarm clocks available. They used them before work, tested the snooze function, and slept later on weekends to see if these models really left them feeling more rested. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using these light therapy alarm clocks and we've outlined them here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

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.

Test Results: Philips HF3520 (Best Overall)

4.3

What We Like

  • Very customizable

  • Relaxing to wake up to

  • Great design

What We Don't Like

  • Setup instructions are hard to follow

  • Big footprint

There’s a reason the Philips HF3520 continues to be our top pick: It offers gradual lighting that turns on 20 to 40 minutes before your alarm and has a lot of customizable options. “Having the option to choose among a list of soothing sounds is great,” one reviewer said, “because you can customize this light to play whatever suits your specific personality.” That tester preferred the sound of the ocean, but you can select from among four other choices. Our testers thought that the setup instructions could be a lot clearer — they are shown just as pictures — but, nonetheless, they would recommend this alarm clock.

Test Results: Philips HF3505 (Runner-Up, Best Overall)

3.6

What We Like

  • Adjustable light and sound options

  • Soothing sound of birds chirping

  • Good size

  • Attractive design

What We Don't Like

  • Unintuitive user interface

  • Hard to set up

One Lifewire tester had some trouble switching from a traditional alarm to this model, saying, “Even with the light setting on the brightest function and the birds singing on the loudest option, it would still take about five to 10 minutes to wake up.” She suggested “setting it for about 10 to 15 minutes before you really want to wake up to give you some wiggle room in case you don't wake up immediately from it.” Overall, these clocks are designed to provide a gradual wake-up process, but it may feel a bit alien from what you’re used to. Like other Philips light therapy alarm clocks, this one had pictorial instructions that caused one reviewer to experience a “frustrating setup process.”

Test Results: Circadian Optics Lumos (Best Light Therapy)

4

What We Like

  • Nice compact size

  • Great brightness

  • Adjustable lights and timer

What We Don't Like

  • Timer but no alarm

  • Ineffective stand

Lifewire testers loved the compact size and great light output of the Circadian Optics Lumos. Since it’s not actually an alarm clock, one tester thought that it would be even better with wake-up functionality because it only has a timer that turns the light off. You can also dim and angle the light to adjust the effect you get.

One of our reviewers questioned the design of the light’s stand, commenting that she thought the placement of the power cord is “awkward” and she had to use more force than expected to angle the light. The stand aside, our testers praised this lamp, with one reviewer saying, “It's a lot slimmer, less bulky, and more visually appealing than the sun lamp I already have.”

Test Results: Electrohome (Best Customization)

3.9

What We Like

  • Features including AM/FM radio and snooze button

  • Great progressive wake-up light

  • Backup battery

What We Don't Like

  • Poor speaker quality

  • Cluttered design

Even though one of our reviewers wished there were more wake-up sound options and said the sound quality was “tinny,” he liked the progressive wake-up lighting feature, the inclusion of a radio, and the motion-activated night light and snooze. He added, “The retro alarm clock radio is packed with more features at this price point that any other light therapy clocks I’ve used.” Additionally, the alarm can be preprogrammed with “weekend cancelation” to allow you a few more hours of precious sleep on your days off.