The Best Sunrise Alarm Clocks To Add To Your Nightstand – Forbes
Nothing beats waking up to the sun as it rises, as sunlight lifts you out of deep sleep much more gently than a traditional alarm clock. If you don’t have that luxury, though, you can turn to the next best thing: a sunrise alarm for your bedside table. By gradually emitting light ahead of your scheduled wake-up time, the best sunrise alarm clocks mimic the sun rising in the morning, helping you wake up peacefully and easily. For its soothing simulations of dusk and dawn, the Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light is our favorite model, though we’ve rounded up other top sunrise alarms that deserve a spot on your nightstand.
Our favorite sunrise alarm clocks come from Homelabs, Philips and Hatch, among other top brands.
Illustration: Forbes / Image: Retailers
So how exactly do sunrise alarm clocks work? A lot of it has to do with your circadian rhythm, which is the body’s sleep-wake cycle over the course of 24 hours. Basically, when it’s light out, your circadian clock tells you to be awake; when it’s dark, that internal clocks wants you to be asleep. Melatonin, a hormone your body produces that plays a crucial role in sleep, is also part of it. “Melatonin cannot be produced in the presence of light—this is why we call it the ‘vampire hormone,’” says sleep expert and clinical psychologist Dr. Michael Breus (also known as The Sleep Doctor). By gradually brightening before you intend to wake, sunrise alarms help suppress your melatonin levels, making it easier to get out of bed.
Ready to add one of these soothing alarms to your nightstand? Ahead, here are the best sunrise alarm clocks you can buy right now.
Size: 6 x 10 x 10 inches | Light intensity: 300 lux | Additional features: 20 brightness intensities, five wake-up sounds, back-up battery, FM radio
For its life-like sunrise and sunset simulation, the Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light is our top pick overall. Featuring 20 brightness intensities, five wake-up sounds and an automatic dimmable display, this handy device gently pulls you out of sleep using a soothing combination of light and sound (or you can just use light with no sounds). Additionally, the alarm clock can double as an FM radio and a bedside lamp, earning it a permanent spot on your bedside table. And if your power ever goes out, you can still rely on this device—it has a power backup.
What the reviews say: As a true testament to its quality, this sunrise alarm clock has over 8,000 5-star reviews on Amazon. “I do think this light has made the transition to an earlier morning much easier than when I did so with a normal alarm,” writes one happy customer. “I don’t awake as groggy as before, and actually get up MUCH earlier than my earliest wake time prior to getting this alarm. I feel more rested when it finally sounds so I’m less likely to hit snooze a bunch of times, as the light in the room is also already on, which further pushes me into getting out of bed.”
- Offers 20 brightness intensities
- Gets progressively brighter over 30 minutes
- Doubles as a radio and bedside lamp
- It’s on the larger side
Size: 3.9 x 6.9 x 7.2 inches | Features: Six colorful interfaces, FM radio, back-up battery
If you’re in the market for something more budget-friendly, the hOmeLabs Sunrise Alarm Clock is your best bet. Half an hour before your wake-up time, this popular clock begins to brighten, sounding a gentle alarm when it’s time. It also includes a sleep timer with sunset simulation so you can program it to gently dim before your bedtime. In addition to simulating the sun, this clock has FM radio capabilities and six color-changing options, so it serves a purpose beyond helping users wake up. During the day, it can function as a fun, colorful light, making this a great option for kids’ bedrooms; during the night, it can double as a night light.
What the reviews say: “I have had a hard time waking up in the mornings because the room at my current apartment gets no sunlight,” writes one customer. “Having this alarm clock has helped me so much, and solved my waking-up issue! The instructions are easy to follow and there are a lot of customization options available. I often turn on the color-changing light while I’m working, and it livens up my room.”
- Uses white light to mimic the sun
- Includes six built-in FM radio
- Easy to use
- If you hit a button other than snooze, the whole alarm turns off
Size: 7.5 x 2.75 x 5.75 inches | Features: Sound machine, night light, sleep library, time-to-rise light, and more
The Hatch Restore Smart Sound Machine Alarm Clock is designed to gradually brighten ahead of the user-set alarm, moving from reddish to white before your preferred alarm sounds. Morning isn’t the only time this device comes in handy, though. You can also use it to unwind before bed, as it’s equipped with a robust sleep library including bedtime stories, peaceful music and nature sounds. One thing worth noting: This alarm clock requires WiFi to operate, as you control the show via the free Hatch Sleep app.
What the reviews say: One satisfied customer writes, “Was looking for a gentler way to wake up (not the blaring phone alarms!) and found this while looking for sunrise clocks. I like the night time routines and the choice of sound scapes… Overall great device, I fall asleep more easily and wake much more rested.”
- Easy to operate using the Hatch Sleep app
- Comes with an impressive sleep library
- Has 22 night light color options
- To access all capabilities, users have to pay a $50/year subscription fee
- The clock requires Wi-Fi
Size: 2 x 10 x 6 inches | Features: Built-in USB charger, 10 sleep sounds, colorful interfaces
If you’ve been hoping for the benefits of a sunrise alarm clock without the larger footprint that so many require, consider the AFEXOA Sunrise Alarm Clock. Designed with an easy-to-read, dimmable interface that displays both the time and temperature, the clock has a woodgrain base with a half-moon acrylic panel that changes colors when the evening and morning routines are in place. Anywhere between five and 60 minutes before your preferred wakeup time, the alarm will slowly change from muted red to bright yellow before sounding your chosen alarm.
Another great perk: The clock has a USB port so you can charge your phone or earbuds via the device.
What the reviews say: “I read the reviews for this one, tried it, and this is the one that I will continue to use year after year going forward,” writes one customer. “It is awesome, and the instructions are very clear. I had mine set up the way that I want it within 2 minutes.”
- Sunrise feature can be turned on and off
- Has seven colorful interfaces
- Features 10 soothing sounds
- Includes a built-in USB charger
- The sunlight automatically turns off 15 minutes after the alarm sounds