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The 4 best sunrise alarm clocks: Wake up smarter

What is the best sunrise alarm clock? Our pick is the Philips SmartSleep Sleep and Wake Up Sunrise Lamp because of its easy-to-use interface and gentle wakeup alarm audio settings. We also looked at features such as programmable schedules, smart app features, and breathing exercises, taking into account budgets.
rebecca-isaacs
Written by Rebecca Isaacs, Staff Writer on
Reviewed by Elyse Betters Picaro

Waking up before the sun rises can feel impossible when you're crawling out of bed in the early morning darkness. With the invention of the sunrise alarm clock, also known as a light therapy alarm clock, you don't have to turn on a bedroom light at 4am and feel blinded any longer. A sunrise alarm clock simulates the sun's rise and rays, making it so that, rather than waking up in the darkness to a blaring alarm beep, you wake up to a light level of your choosing and a gentle alarm sound.

These days, sunrise alarm clocks come with much more than just a light bulb and a gentle alarm tone. Some of them can offer features like meditation and breathing exercises to help calm you down before bed and even rainbow lights.

Whether you're looking for a no-frills sunrise alarm clock or one that can help you calm down before bed with voiceover narratives, you'll be able to get one that will wake you feeling refreshed and ready to tackle your work day long before the sun rises. Below are our picks for the best sunrise alarm clocks.

Philips - SmartSleep Sleep and Wake Up sunrise lamp
Best Buy

Features: Light-guided breathing | Sunset simulation | Smart touch display

The Philips SmartSleep Sleep and Wake Up sunrise lamp ticks all our boxes for a great sunrise alarm. It can simulate both a sunrise for the morning wakeup and a sunset to help get you to sleep at night. You'll be able to choose from nature sounds to ambient gongs to even your favorite radio station when the alarm gently rings, and you can customize the brightness and noise level of the alarm up to 20 different levels each.

Aside from a nice, modern design, the lamp comes with a handy soft, adjustable, one-touch adjustable light for getting up to go to the bathroom or check on kids. The touch screen display also uses easy-to-navigate buttons to quickly set an alarm before bed or start that breathing cycle just before bedtime.

On a personal note, I've used this sunrise wake-up lamp for a few years now and feel it helps me rise out of bed much faster. It's a much more relaxed way to wake up, and I really enjoy how the alarm is a gentle bell gong when the light doesn't wake me up or how it can handle two alarms when my partner needs to wake up at a different time in the morning.

Pros:

  • True sunset simulation
  • Easy display navigation
  • Gradual alarm audio increase

Cons:

  • No accompanying app with this model
  • Large and bulky on a nightstand
  • Cannot stream own content for an alarm
JALL Sunrise Alarm Clock
Amazon

Features: Adjustable sunrise simulation time | Multiple color smart light bulb

This no-frills, sleek alarm clock from JALL can wake you up with the sunrise simulation as early as 10 minutes or as long as a 30-minute brightening. It can be programmed for two different alarms, and you can snooze it up to five times at nine minutes per snooze, so you can catch a few extra minutes of serenity before you start your day.

The alarm comes packed with multiple smart light colors and seven different audio sounds, including wind bells, piano, and more, with up to 16 different noise levels. It can play FM radio if you'd prefer to wake up to a station like NPR. If you're someone that prefers complete darkness at bedtime, you can also turn off the display, so it's dark while you sleep.

Pros:

  • Multiple audio colors
  • Budget-friendly
  • Adjustable sunrise simulation time

Cons:

  • Three brightness settings
  • Manual alarm settings only
Hatch Rest sound machine
Amazon

Features: Color-coordinated wakeup indicators | Soft nightlight | Smart app connection

Trying to train a toddler when it's time to get out of bed? You absolutely need to pick up the Hatch Rest Smart sound machine. The sleep machine comes with 11 different sounds and 10 colors so that you can customize it from ocean waves to light lullabies. You can control the lights, sound, and programs with the ease of the smart app, making it easy to adjust wakeup times and sleep times from across the house.

The wake time feature allows you to help young ones learn rising times in the morning via a special "wake up" color, so when it changes to your designated color, kids know when it's time to wake up for the day. The earliest recommended age to use the time-to-rise feature is two years old, so while they're training to be a "big kid", they can learn the wakeup cues. You can also use it as a nightlight so kids can see they're safe from those pesky nighttime monsters under the bed.

Pros:

  • Designed just for kids
  • Can program regular schedules
  • Color-coded to let kids know when it's okay to wake up

Cons:

  • Recommended for two years and older
  • Not a true alarm clock
  • App required to use the Hatch
Hatch Restore smart alarm clock
Amazon

Features: Curated content channels for relaxing | Comprehensive smart app | White noise sleep sounds

If you're one that absolutely needs a white noise machine in the background to feel well rested, the Hatch Restore combines both your sleep needs and your waking needs into one. In the accompanying app, you can program the clock to play white noise while you sleep and wake you up with the sunrise simulation at the time of your choosing. 

Choose from mediation, deep breathing exercises, or just the white noise machine with the Hatch Restore. In addition to these features, you can use the app to program a schedule for your sleep and waking needs to feel more rested when waking up. Like others on this list, the light on the clock doubles as a reading light before bedtime, too.

Pros:

  • White noise machine features
  • Comprehensive app with deep breathing exercise
  • Programmable routine

Cons:

  • Most app features blocked by subscription
  • It doesn't work on mobile hotspots
  • You cannot stream your own content

What is the best sunrise alarm clock?

For those that want an alarm clock without a subscription, the Philips SmartSleep Sleep and Wake Up sunrise Lamp is our top choice. It provides gentle wakeup, adjustable light and noise settings, and comes with a reading light, breathing exercises, and a sunset simulation. It's also at a very affordable price point considering the features that it comes with sans app.

Sunrise alarm clock

Price

Feature

Feature

Philips - SmartSleep Sleep and Wake Up sunrise Lamp 

$179

Smart touch display

Breathing exercise simulator

JALL Wake Up Light sunrise alarm clock

$59

Adjustable sunrise simulation

Multiple LED smart bulb colors

Hatch Rest smart sound machine

$69

Soft nightlight for kids

Color-coordinated indicators for kids

Hatch Restore smart sound machine

$129

Curated content channels with subscription

White noise machine feature

Which sunrise alarm clock is best for you?

You're going to want to consider a few factors. Firstly, you'll need to decide whether you want one that comes with all the bells and whistles, like a smart app that can create schedules for winding down and waking up. Or, if you would prefer one that, you tap a couple of buttons on an easy-to-read interface for ease of use. 

Additionally, you'll need to decide what kind of sunrise clock you want. Most come with a 30-minute wakeup sunlight simulator, while a few can be adjusted to as little as 10 minutes. If you prefer a different color other than the traditional yellow LED smart bulb, you'll have to make sure that the alarm clock you choose offers different colors.

Choose this sunrise alarm clock…

If you want…

Philips - SmartSleep Sleep and Wake Up sunrise Lamp 

All the features without the smart app or subscription.

JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock

A simple sunrise alarm clock with multiple wakeup colors

Hatch Rest smart sound machine

A smart wakeup light for telling toddlers when it's time to wake up

Hatch Restore smart sound machine

A smart alarm clock with all the bedtime and wakeup features

What is a sunrise alarm clock?

A sunrise alarm clock is a device that wakes you up more gently than a traditional alarm clock by using a sunrise simulator coupled with a light, calming alarm audio. They can help you wake up gently and help you get out of bed faster in the morning. Some sunrise alarm clocks even offer features that help you relax for bedtime, promising to help you get to sleep with breathing and meditation exercises.

Are sunrise alarm clocks worth it?

If you struggle to get out of bed in the morning, or if you wake up long before the sun rises, a sunrise alarm clock can be a beneficial start to your day. If you would like to create a more routine bedtime, you can use extra features on them to help you relax for bedtime, making this clock a worthy purchase.

How did we choose these sunrise alarm clocks?

We chose these alarm clocks by reviewing clock features and specs, including functionality, ease of use, and customer reviews. Anything that has less than a 4.5-star rating was not included in this roundup, and some of the recommendations come from ZDNet tech experts with personal experience using these clocks.

Are there alternatives worth considering?

Whether you want one with smart app features or just want something a little less Wi-Fi enabled, there are plenty of sunrise alarm clocks to choose from. Here are some more recommendations to consider:

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