The best wake-up lights, also known as sunrise lamps, allow you to wake up in a more natural way that's in keeping with your body's rhythms. They do this by mimicking the gradual rising of the sun, awakening you bit-by-bit, in a gentle and relaxed way.
Wake-up lights help you start the day feeling more alert and in a better mood. It's certainly nicer than being shocked away by a noisy alarm clock, which can be particularly jarring if it disrupts the deepest part of your sleep cycle. So a wakeup light can be a great investment in your health and wellbeing. Particularly right now, with the cold and dark winter mornings we're facing over the next few months. And if you suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), they're pretty much a must-have.
There are other ways you can make sure you feel better refreshed in the mornings too. Check out our best mattress guide to ensure you get a good night's kip, and keep an eye on how well you're sleeping with our guide to sleep trackers.
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Rated as a Class 1 graded medical device that's recommended for sufferers of SAD, the Lumie Bodyclock Luxe 750DAB isn't just a wake-up light; it's also a light and sound machine, a DAB radio and Bluetooth speaker. This, together with a solid, luxurious design, means it feels less like an obtrusive clinical accessory and more like a natural part of your bedroom decor. We've chosen the Lumie Bodyclock Luxe as our pick for the best wake-up light overall, for a number of reasons. They include its superior sound and light quality, the fact it lets you connect and charge your phone by USB, and its huge range of options for how you use it as a wakeup light.
Among these is a great low-blue light mode, which specially designed to help you wind down before bed by signaling your body to produce melatonin, and counteracting the false wakefulness incurred by using phones and tablets late at night. It does this by cycling through shades of pink, orange and red, just like a real sunset. And it even has a light-sensitive, auto-dimming display so that all that hard work isn’t undone if you have to get up in the middle of the night. (Don't need all those features? At number 6 you'll find a cheaper, more basic version from the range.)
Even the best wake-up lights can be let down by poorly-designed companion apps. Not so the Beurer WL 75. Its app's interface is a dream to use, making the light itself fantastically simple to set up and program. We especially like that you can set different profiles for each day of the week. The Beurer also offers a natural-feeling sunrise mode, a gentle, gradual fade-in of red to white that really will help you feel refreshed on waking. You can also choose sunset mode to be lulled to sleep, or take advantage of the Beurer’s Bluetooth connectivity to stream music or play radio, at any time of the night or day. Finally, no review would be complete without a nod to the Beurer’s design. Some found it on the large side, especially the hefty plug, but in our humble opinion, it’s easily one of the best-looking of the bunch.
The cheapest wake-up light on our list, the battery powered Fitfort Alarm Clock Wake Up Light offers an impressive range of features considering its super-low price. In the morning, it gradually brightens from 10% to 100% across 30 minutes, and offers the reverse at the end of the day to help you get to sleep. During the night, the time display offers three settings: light, dim and off. There's also a snooze function, a reading light, an FM radio, six natural alarm sounds, and a choice of colours including green, red, blue, pink, orange and indigo.
And that's your lot, basically: this is certainly not the most advanced wake-up light you'll find. Plus, the sound is low quality, and the buttons aren't the easiest to use in practice. That said, if you're looking for something basic, this still represents an incredible bargain in our eyes.
The Somneo is Philips' flagship wake-up light, a feature-packed model that works just as well for getting you off to sleep again at the end of the day. For mornings, you can choose how long your light takes to get to full brightness, as well as selecting your own maximum brightness from an impressive 25 levels. This granularity is great if you’re a light sleeper, or someone who's more sensitive to light in general. Audio is delivered in the form of built-in nature sounds, FM radio, or your own music player which you can connect via an AUX cable. Along with a sunset mode that's similar to the Lumie’s, the Somneo offers a light-guided breathing mode to promote pre-bed relaxation, giving you seven rhythms of light intensity or sound to follow.
The Hatch Baby Rest+ is our pick as the best wake-up light for kids. It's also a night light, white noise machine and okay-to-wake clock (aka time-to-rise clock). And best of all, this lovely device is extremely customisable, allowing you to create schedules of sounds and lights to fit your child’s routine.
How about a soothing combination of white noise and low light to ease a small baby into waking? Or a colour-coded system that gives your toddler the green light (literally) to come and hassle you in bed only after a pre-approved wake-up time? It’s all controllable from your smartphone or tablet, so if you’re getting up for an early-hours feed, or checking in to see if they’re awake, you can adjust the settings accordingly from wherever you are. No rude awakenings for them, no bumping into furniture in the dark for you.
Next up in our roundup of the best wake-up lights is the Lumie Bodyclock Shine 300. It's in the same range as our #1 pick, and sacrifices some of the extra features (low-blue light for bedtime, Bluetooth functionality), to offer a much lower price tag. However, there's still plenty to love about this wakeup light. We found the illumination soothing and natural, moving from dim red and to a warm yellow glow when it's time to get up. We also appreciated the fact that the display auto-dims based on how bright the room is, and switches off totally at night unless you set it otherwise. There are sunrise and sunset options with variable duration (15-90 minutes), and a range of 15 different wake up and sleep sounds (including, interestingly, 'goat') or the option to play FM radio instead. Like all the Bodyclocks, you can tap on the top of the lamp to snooze it for 10 minutes.
So where are the down-sides? The Lumie Bodyclock is operated by button rather than via a companion app, and while it's nice to not have to download yet another thing to your phone, getting to grips with the control panel does feel fiddly and old-school at first. On balance though, we're still big fans of this wakeup light – and there's a 45-day trial that you can use to make sure you love it. This is the cheapest of the Bodyclock range to have integrated radio – if that's not so important to you, you could also check out the Bodyclock Glow 150 (10 wake up sound options) or even the Lumie Spark 100 (no sound).
Another cheap option that's surprisingly decent, the Coulax Wake Up Light has a wood effect design that makes it stand out from the others on this list aesthetically; whether for good or bad will depend on your personal taste. Functionally speaking, though, everything works well. The device gradually increases the brightness of your room from warm red to bright white in the morning, across 10-60 minutes. You can also use it to get to sleep at night over 10-120 minutes.
On the downside, the sound is low quality; you can't use the wake-up light without the sound; and once you turn the alarm off, the light goes off too, which can be a little annoying. But that said, with a snooze function, FM radio, 20 levels of brightness and seven different sounds to wake up to, this all adds up to a real bargain at just £32.99 at time of writing. Particularly as you can set a maximum brightness level, and use it as a bedside lamp or colourful atmosphere lamp too.
If the Philips Somneo is too expensive for your tastes, or you just don't like the design, here's a cheaper option that's nonetheless packed with features. The HF3531/01 SmartSleep Wake-up Light uses a coloured sunrise simulation to help you wake naturally, gradually increasing the light over 30 minutes, from a soft dawn, through orange and eventually bright yellow light. To complete your blissful awakening, the SmartSleep follows this up with a natural wake-up sound: there are seven to choose from including forest birds, ocean waves and Nepalese singing bowls.
These sounds gradually increase in volume over a minute and a half. Alternatively, you can tune into an FM radio station. If you're still not quite ready to wake up, there's a snooze option, and you can lull yourself to sleep at night with the device's sunset simulation – like the wake-up routine only in reverse. There are 20 brightness settings, so you can find the level of light that works best for you, and the SmartSleep automatically adjusts its own brightness level so the display won't keep you up at night. If you do need to rise in the early hours, though, there's a midnight light option that'll illuminate your room with a dim orange light, which is a little more restful.
If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder or just feel the winter blues once the nights start drawing in, this could be the choice for you. The Lumie Zest is a combination wake-up light and SAD lamp that's certified to deliver light therapy that will improve your overall mood. Most importantly, it boasts an output of up to 2000 lux, which is a lot more powerful than the other wake-up lights on this list. Twenty to 30 minutes of light therapy a day is recommended to feel an improvement.
It's small and compact, so it can be taken anywhere (although you will need a socket as there's no battery option), and it's pretty easy to customise to your needs. It's not the cheapest wake-up light on this list, but if you're looking for effective treatment of SAD, we feel the higher brightness output more than justifies the price.