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Best sunrise alarm clocks 2023: tested by a sleep expert

Wake up right with a sunrise alarm. These clever clocks simulating natural light, gently waking you up and replacing the dreaded morning alarm

A Lumie Bodyclock Shine 300 sunrise alarm clock on a wooden bedside table next to a pastel lilac bubble cube candle
(Image credit: Lumie)
Best sunrise alarm clocks 2023: Jump Menu

A hand turning off a sunrise alarm clock on a bedside table in a darkened room

(Image credit: Getty Images)

1. Best overall: Lumie Bodyclock Shine 300
2. Best for tracking sleep: Philips SmartSleep
3. Most stylish: Hatch Restore 2
4. Best portable: Casper Glow Light
5. Best budget: hOmeLabs Sunrise Alarm Clock
6. How I tested
7. FAQs

Not a morning person? If getting out of bed in the morning is a struggle, a sunrise alarm could be a game changer. Rather than a loud alarm startling you awake, these gentle wake up lights slowly increase the level of light in your room to mimic sunrise. In turn, this slow build-up of light helps to tell your body to reduce the production of sleep hormones, such as melatonin and increase wakeful hormones like cortisol.

In addition to the sunrise light feature, most of our suggested models have plenty of other features. Lights can wake you up with different sounds or radio stations and many have timers to fade them out after a certain period of time. Some double as mood lights and a sunset stimulation, where the light fades from full to zero to help you fall asleep.

I tested each of these recommended wake up lights, using them in their different modes and testing all the features. I have featured wake up lights to suit different budgets and with a range of modes so you can find the best product to help wake you up in the morning.

Sometimes sleeping on the best mattress doesn't cut it. These lights well help you wind down well well and wake up right. 

Best sunrise alarm clock overall

A Lumie Bodyclock Shine 300 on a white background. The clock has a digital screen showing the time and radio station, and a the light is set to a dark pinkH&G gold badge

(Image credit: Lumie)

1. Lumie Bodyclock Shine 300

Best overall

Specifications

Dimensions: 8.3" x 7.1"
Alarms: 15
Controls: Sunrise/Sunset
Switch: Buttons
Radio: FM Radio
Bluetooth: No
AUX: No
Power source: Power cord, barrel

Reasons to buy

+
Realistic sunrise / sunset effect
+
Good range of alarm sounds
+
Lights up a dark room well
+
FM Radio

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly complicated initial setup
-
Audio button use isn’t clear
-
No music streaming
-
No other colors
Buy it if

✅ You want realistic sunrise: of every alarm I tested, this had the most realistic sunrise and sunset.

✅ You want varied alarm sounds: A wide range of alarm sounds means you can vary your mornings.
 
✅ You like to wake up with the radio: FM radio means you can wake up to your favorite shows.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want music streaming: if you like to wind down with a playlist or a podcast, you won't be able to listen to them through this speaker.

❌ You don't like fiddly setup: getting this clock working is unnecessarily complicated.

❌ You care about audio quality: to be fair, it's a tiny speaker, but the audio on this isn't amazing.

The Bodyclock Shine 300 sits in the middle of Lumie’s range but I think most people will be more than happy with its functions. I found that the Shine produced the most realistic sunrise effect, with the lights shifting gradually through red, yellow and then white. It mimics a natural sunrise well and the shift in colors is subtle and smooth.

There are a wide range of sounds to choose from, if you want to add these in on top of the light. Or you can choose to wake up to an FM radio station if you’d prefer. Some of the sounds are frankly bizarre (bleating goats are an acquired taste at 6:30am) but there are lots of calmer options to choose from such as waves, thunderstorms, and blackbirds. The light can double up as a reading lamp and you can set just one alarm or schedule your whole week with different wake up times.

My biggest criticism of the Shine is the initial setup. The instructions are overly complicated and the audio button use wasn’t entirely clear. But once I got past that, I thought this was an elegantly designed light with a realistic light pattern.

Best for tracking sleep

A Philips SmartSleep alarm clock against a white background. The lamp is set to a dark pink color

(Image credit: Philips)

2. Philips SmartSleep Connected Sleep and Wake Up Light Therapy Lamp

Best for tracking sleep

Specifications

Dimensions: 8.8" x 8.6" x 4.7"
Alarms: 20 sounds/lights
Colors: Sunrise/sunset
Controls: App or button
Radio: AM/FM Radio
Bluetooth: No
AUX: Yes
Power source: Power cord

Reasons to buy

+
Multiple settings and customizable options.
+
Responsive touchscreen.
+
Tracks your sleep.

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy.
-
App can be a little glitchy at times.
Buy it if

✅ You want to track your sleep: unlike other sunrise alarms, this can track your sleep and sleep conditions.

✅ You've got a bigger bedroom: the unique design casts gentle light much further than other alarms ide range of alarm sounds means you can vary your mornings.
 
✅ You love to customise: there's a huge range of lights and sounds to play with.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You find tech frustrating: some users report issues with the app.

❌ You don't like fiddly setup: getting this clock working is unnecessarily complicated.

❌ You've got small bedside tables: this will dominate your nightstand, so you may have to make room for it.

This premium option from Philips looks great on your nightstand but the design also helps to diffuse the light evenly. The convex design helps to cast light at wider angles than other options and the light quality is superb. 

Plug it in and the light will immediately light up with directions to download the Philips app. You’ve then got the choice of controlling it through the touch sensitive controls on the clock’s face or through the app. There are a great range of realistic sounds to choose from, or you can wake up to an FM radio station. 

Sunrise shifts gently from red to yellow and then white, but the SmartSleep is also an excellent reading light and has an equally good wind down feature. I enjoyed the guided breathing exercises to follow before bedtime and there's even a sleep tracker on the app that gives you insights, tracks your sleep and can sync sleep metrics with Apple and Google Health. 

It is a pretty heavy beast though and some users have reported problems with getting the app to work on an ongoing basis. But this is one of the premium lights on the market and it shows in its features. 

Most stylish sunrise alarm clock

A latte-colored Hatch Restore 2 sunrise alarm clock against a white backgroundH&G silver badge

(Image credit: Amazon)

3. Hatch Restore 2

Best looking

Specifications

Dimensions: 7.24" x 2.43" x 5.31"
Alarms: 10
Colors: Sunrise, sunset
Controls: Touch to see time, buttons
Radio: No
Bluetooth: No
AUX: No
Power source: Power cord, barrel

Reasons to buy

+
Multiple customization options
+
Sleep and rise options
+
Simple to control through the app
+
Can set multiple alarms

Reasons to avoid

-
Must be connected to Wi-Fi to use
-
Some functions are only available with a subscription
-
No music streaming or radio
-

Buy it if

✅ You want a stylish clock: the soft shapes of this clock look great in most bedrooms

✅ You need easy controls: this clock has two big buttons for sunrise and sunset, and a simple switch for the alarm, which is great as you wind down or wake up.
 
✅ You love to customise: the app is packed with a thousands of sleep sounds to help you drift off to sleep.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You don't want a subscription some features require a subscription.

❌ No other audio: you can't stream music or listen to the radio with this alarm - you have to use Hatch's library of sounds

❌ You don't have WiFi: this clock can only work with WiFi, so if you don't have that or want to connect it to your phone, you can't use it.

If you’re looking for a light you can control via your phone, the Hatch Restore 2 is the one to go for. This is a really sleek design, which sits nicely on your bedside table. The front is covered with a linen fabric, which helps to diffuse the light, and it’s available in three colors, Putty, Latte and Slate (that's brown, cream and gray, for the rest of us). Setup is easy in the app and you can then control the light entirely through your phone. 

Helpfully, the Hatch will always pick up the correct time via your phone. On the top of the Hatch, you’ll find ‘rest’ and ‘rise’ buttons, plus an Alarm Toggle button on the side to easily turn your alarm on and off. Press either of the top buttons to snooze the alarm and hold down the button to switch off your chosen routine. These button are large and clear, which I found was perfect when I was bleary-eyed in the morning.

I really liked the choice of lighting colors and brightness levels, and you get 13 wake-up sounds to choose from. There's a huge library of other proprietary sounds, too. However, you need a subscription, which is a frustrating ongoing cost.

Best portable sunrise clock

A Casper Glow Light on a white backgroundH&G gold badge

(Image credit: Casper)

4.Casper Glow Light

Best for portability

Specifications

Dimensions: 5.25" x 3.75"
Alarms: None
Colors: One
Controls: Twist to adjust brightness
Radio: No
Bluetooth: No
AUX: No
Power source: Charging pad

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to operate
+
Gentle, warm light
+
Portable
+
Can sync up multiple units

Reasons to avoid

-
No sound options
-
No clock
-
One hue
-
Requires smartphone app
Buy it if

✅ You want a pure sunrise alarm: this wakes you up and sends you to sleep without sound.

✅ You need a nightlight: you can pluck this alarm off its base for a gentle nightlight if you need to get up in the night.
 
✅ You want multiple alarms: you can sync up multiple lights and fade them at the same time.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want to tell the time: this really is the basics of a sunrise and sunset. There's no clock.

❌ You want to listen to music: winding down with the radio, a podcast, or a playlist isn't possible.

❌ You don't have a smartphone: you need a smartphone to set this alarm up.

Casper’s Glow Light is fully portable and incredibly simple to use. Flip to turn it on, rotate it to adjust the intensity of the light and wiggle it to turn on the night light. It charges wirelessly on a coaster sized charging pad and this, coupled with its petite size, means it’s easy to take away with you on your travels.

You’ll need to download the app if you want to be able to set wake up and wind down times, which can last from 15 to 90 minutes. There’s also the option to pair the Glow Light with other Glow Lights, although costs could mount up quickly here. It’s also a useful night light – you can pick it up and carry it round with you, rather than bumping into things in the night. 

However, this is a true sunrise alarm. There are no sound options at all, so it might not be enough to wake up heavy sleepers. What's more, there's only one shade of light. You can adjust its brightness, but you can’t change the color. However, I found that its portability and sturdy design (it’s made with polycarbonate to resist bumps and survive falls) means this is a useful light to own.

Best budget sunrise alarm clock

A hOmeLabs Sunrise Alarm Clock showing its various colors on a white background

(Image credit: Amazon)

5. hOmeLabs Sunrise Alarm Clock

Best budget

Specifications

Dimensions: 6.8" x 7.2"
Alarms: 6
Controls: Buttons
Radio: FM Radio
Bluetooth: No
AUX: No
Power source: Batteries

Reasons to buy

+
Good clear instructions
+
You can turn off the LED display
+
Design and lights will appeal to children
+
FM Radio

Reasons to avoid

-
Sounds are a little tinny 
-
Light is not as diffused as others on our list
-
Small buttons
Buy it if

✅ You 're on a budget: this clock is usually a 1/5th the price of the other alarms featured here.

✅ You want lots of colors: this clock has multicolor settings, so you can change the light to a calm red or blue before bed. two big buttons for sunrise and sunset, and a simple switch for the alarm, which is great as you wind down or wake up.
 
✅ You want a radio: there's an FM radio built in so you can wake up with your favorite shows.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You're an audiophile: this alarm sounds very tinny.

❌ You want to read before bed: the light isn't particularly soft, so it might be a bit harsh to read by.

❌ You have mobility problems: the buttons to control this are pretty small, so it can be fiddly to turn it on and off. 

Although adults will also like this light, we think it’s particularly suited to kids with its bright choice of colored lights. You can choose from multicolor mood lighting when it’s not in use as a sunrise clock, and the simple design with bright display makes it easy for children to operate. 

The HomeLabs light feels sturdy, thanks to a metal base and it comes with touch sensitive buttons to operate it. There’s also the option to wake up with an FM radio station. The instructions are clear and it’s easy to set up, plus we really like the fact you can turn off the LED display, so it doesn’t keep kids awake. Sunrise and sunset lights are warm and, although the light isn’t as bright as with some wake up lights, it does the job of waking you up.

There are a good range of sounds, but I felt that they sounded a little tinny compared to the other lights on test.  The light isn’t as diffused as others on our list, so it might be harder to use as a reading light. If price is also a concern, the HomeLabs is one of the cheaper options out there.

How I tested sunrise alarm clocks

My wake up lights review was based on the first-hand experience of using these products at home. I used every of the wake up lights for a week at a time and noted how well the lights performed over that period of time.

I also took into account factors such as ease of use, cost, functionality and features to make sure I selected the best wake up lights on the market.

Sunrise alarm clocks FAQs

What should I look for in a wake up light?

  There are a few factors to consider when you’re choosing your light: 

  • Brightness – It’s down to personal preference as to how bright you’d like the wake up light to be, so we’d recommend looking for a light that offers adjustable brightness levels.
  • Color temperature – Look for a light that offers as natural a light as possible by adhering to the color temperature of light at sunrise and sunset. Those with LED technology have been proven to improve mood and energy levels in the morning. 
  • Design – Consider the space you have to put your wake up light in. There’s no point buying a large light if you only have a tiny space to put it in!
  • Switches – Think about how you want to control your light, particularly in the morning when you’re half asleep. Do you want a touch sensitive light that you can hit snooze on? Or one with buttons to press? Or are you tech-savvy and want to control everything through an app?
  • Audio – Is the light on its own going to be enough to wake you up, or do you need sounds alongside it? If you’re a heavy sleeper then you will probably want sounds to accompany the light, or you might prefer to wake up to a FM radio station. 

Is waking up to light good for you?

In a word, yes. Using light to wake up and wind down can help regulate your cortisol and melatonin production respectively. These hormones help control the wake / sleep cycles. 

Is it better to wake up to sound or light?

 Light is definitely a gentler way to wake up. But if you’re a heavier sleeper, you may need the addition of sound to rouse you from your slumbers. The advantage of the sounds on a wake up light are that they’re also gentler than the shrill blast of an alarm clock. 


There’s a wake up light out there to suit everyone. If you’re looking for all the bells and whistles, app-enabled lights allow you to control everything from your phone and provide users with the most customization options. Those in smaller spaces or people who travel a lot should consider a portable light with battery or charging options. But whichever type of light you choose, make sure that the quality of light is good so that you can wake up in the most natural fashion. 

Jo Plumridge
Contributor

Jo Plumridge is a freelance writer and photographer with over 20 years of experience writing for a variety of magazines and websites. She writes, perhaps unsurprisingly, about photography, but also extensively on all things sleep-related, alongside reviews of home and tech products. Jo is constantly looking for the best ways to get a good night’s sleep, although she’s yet to find any products that prevent the cats she and her husband foster from waking them up at 6am.