It’s tough to wake up during the winter. The mornings are frequently cold and dark, and all you’re longing for is a little sunshine and heat. One very effective solution is a sunrise simulator alarm clock—here are our favorites.
So what makes a sunrise alarm clock so effective? They work by providing a similar light to what you would experience if sunshine was bursting through your curtains. Physiologically speaking, the light tricks your body into thinking the sun is rising and it’s morning. Psychologically speaking, the dump of “it’s morning!” chemicals makes it so much easier to peel yourself out of bed and start the day feeling energized. It’s far better than waking up to a darkened room that just makes you feel like rolling over and going back to sleep. Different alarm clocks offer different features to help get you started with your day, so we’ve looked at each of them, and why their prices vary so massively.
Here’s a look at some of the best sunrise/light simulation alarm clocks out there.
Best All-Rounder: Philips Wake-Up Light ($90)
The Philips Wake-Up Light offers a little bit of everything yet at a higher standard than any of its competitors. The Philips health and wellness division is a substantial part of their focus, and their lights (this and the one that follows) are the only lights in our roundup that have been subjected to clinical trials.
The natural light alarm clock wakes you up with a mixture of light and sounds. Its lighting mimics the natural lighting of early sunrises in the summer while its speaker offers up two natural sounds to get you started in the morning. The wake-up light gradually increases in brightness over a period of 30 minutes so that your body is stimulated into waking up naturally.
Despite that, the alarm clock still has a tap-to-snooze button which can be handy if you stoically refuse to get up when you’re meant to. The lamp also works as a bedside reading lamp with a choice of 10 brightness settings, which is sure to be useful, plus there’s a built-in FM radio for those of you that enjoy waking up to local radio.
Sure, it’s a little expensive but it does everything so well that you’ll wonder how you did without it.
Best For A Meditative Experience: Philips Somneo ($180)
Many people swear by meditation as a means in which to sleep better as well as feel better with one’s self. If you want to take a more holistic approach to how you rise in the morning, then the Philips Somneo is well worth its chunky price tag. It takes the technology of the Philips Wake-Up Light then goes a couple of steps further.
The Philips Somneo offers up RelaxBreathe, a smart light-guided and sound-guided feature that helps you wind down to drift off to sleep. If you follow its rhythms of light or sound, you end up with a more peaceful transition to sleep. So, what does that have to do with rising better in the morning? Well, it stands to reason that if you sleep better, you’ll find it easier to get up too.
That’s reinforced by the Philips Somneo wake-up light which simulates natural sunrise as well as sunset, gradually preparing you to wake up just so. It also includes multiple nature-inspired sounds that ensure it doubles up nicely as a form of white-noise machine, plus you can use it to play music from your phone.
On a more practical level, there are also multiple light settings for reading, as well as an easy to use touch display. It’s worth the extra, especially if you want the help drifting off to sleep.
Best Budget Choice: Totobay Wake Up Light ($26)
We appreciate that not everyone wants to spend nearly $200 on a sunrise simulator alarm clock (although, what price can you put on feeling refreshed?), which is why we recommend that those on a budget plump for the Totobay Wake-Up Light.
It offers some similar functionality to the two Philips options, but in a slightly less well-rounded package. However, it still gradually increases the brightness on the lamp from 30 minutes before your alarm time onwards, so you should feel a bit more ready to go even if the light isn’t quite as bright or perfectly tuned as its more pricey alternatives. There are, after all, only 10 adjustable brightness settings, but that’s good for many users.
There’s also the choice of 6 natural sounds including a piano, violin, bagpipes, waves, birds and the curiously phrased ‘Didi’. We’re not saying everyone is going to find bagpipes calming, but hey, the option is there. An FM radio is also included. For the price, it’s pretty good really.
Best For Notifications: Witti Beddi Glow Smart Alarm Clock ($30)
Look, we’re not telling you how to live your life, but if keeping an eye out for notifications while you’re in bed is important, well, maybe relax more? Still, we know there are people out there interested in that kind of integration, and for them, the Witti Beddi Glow Smart Alarm Clock is a perfect fit.
Besides providing a comforting wake-up light, it also offers a music light that pulses to the beat of whatever you’re playing. It also changes color to represent a different notification whether that happens to be a call, SMS, WhatsApp message, Facebook update, IFTTT notification and so forth. You really need to switch off when you’re in bed for the sake of your sleep hygiene, but for those times that you just can’t, this is a soothing way to be kept informed. And, if you just happen to really like the styling of the lamp, you can always use it without enabling the notification functions.
Best For Style: Amir Wake-Up Light ($33)
Sometimes, it’s important to have a device that’s both stylish and practical. That’s where the Amir Wake-Up Light is pretty great given its low price. The wake-up light side of things does exactly what you would expect. It slowly gets brighter within 30 minutes of your alarm clock ringing. There’s a choice of 20 levels of brightness, so it’s pretty competent for the price.
While there are only five natural sounds to choose from, these include different birds singing, waves, and a thunderstorm, which feels far more practical than bagpipes. They work well in conjunction with the gradual brightness change.
As a reading lamp, a choice of three brightness modes means that you can read your book in comfort too. Plus, there’s a color changing mode for any time you fancy a change of atmosphere.