The Best Wake-Up Light Alarm Clocks

If you awake confused and panicked at the sound of your alarm clock beeping in the dark, you may find mornings more pleasant with a sunrise alarm clock, also called a wake-up light.

We dove into the research on circadian rhythms and woke before dawn with 10 different sunrise alarm clocks and two non-clock lighting devices.

Our favorite, the Philips Wake-Up Light HF3520, emits soothing red-tinted dawn and dusk simulations and gentle wake-up sounds.

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Our pick

This sleek alarm has the most soothing simulated sunrise and sunset, which may help you feel less groggy. It has a good range of alarm sounds and other useful features, but programming the clock is awkward.

Many sunrise alarms use white light to wake you, which can be irritating in the early morning. The Philips Wake-Up Light HF3520 starts with a more soothing red-tinted light that gradually grows into a bright white light. This approach feels more natural and may be more effective at helping you feel less groggy when you wake up.

The HF3520 has a good range of five alarm sounds, a backup alarm, a backup power source (so your alarm will still function in case of a power outage), and a decent radio. But it lacks an app, and manually programming the clock is awkward.

Upgrade pick

This Bluetooth-connected model has many of the same features as our main pick, but with some nice-to-have extras like a USB charging port, soothing sunrise lighting, and multiple alarms. It’s also easier to change the settings via the intuitive app.

The Philips SmartSleep Connected Sleep and Wake-Up Light has many of the same features as our top pick, including a natural, red-tinted sunrise and sunset light.

But it offers more alarm sounds and a wider range of brightness levels and programmable sunrise nuances. It also has sensors that detect temperature and humidity, noise, and light levels (which post readings on its app), a built-in nightlight (just tap if you need it), and a USB port.

It’s the intuitive app that truly makes the upgrade worth it, allowing you to program your sunrise and sunset times and other features much more easily than navigating the buttons on the clock. We also like that you can set multiple alarms during the week and that the sunset component comes with the option of several “wind down” routines.

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