Getting up in the morning can be difficult at the best of times. But if you've got to bed late, overdone it on the booze, and perhaps enjoyed an unexpected fire alarm or the return of some overexcited housemates in the wee hours, that alarm bleep is going to be even more painful. For those reasons, if you're heading to university and hoping to make it to at least some of your 9am lectures, might I recommend a sunrise lamp?
Rather than beeping or jangling, today's best wake up lights slowly get brighter, to wake you up in a more natural, gradual way. They're at least 90% less jarring than a traditional alarm clock, even if you've got yours set to pan pipes or something. They might not be considered amongst the usual back to school essentials, but they can be a real game-changer.
There's a wide selection of these clever clocks on the market, and they range from simple and cheap models like the Fitfort Alarm Clock Wake Up Light (opens in new tab), which offers all the required basic features for a very affordable price. Alternatively, if you're willing to invest a bit more, you can get a whole range of bells and whistles included.
Pricier options add more useful personalisation features. You can adjust the duration of the wake-up time to suit you. You can add sounds to accompany the end of the wake up cycle, to make sure you're well and truly awake – opt for the radio, or pick something more something soothing like birdsong or alpine goats (I'm not joking about that last one, it's an option on some Lumie Bodyclocks). Some also offer sunset cycles, designed to be deployed in the evening to help you unwind gradually.
A wake-up light won't fix a hangover and it won't magically get you a First, but these gadgets are designed to promote a more natural, and stable, sleep-wake cycle, which can only be a good thing given how important sleep is to your focus and wellbeing. And if you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, there are sunrise lamps specifically built to counter the depressive effects of that (the Lumie Bodyclock Luxe 750DAB (opens in new tab) is a great example). Browse the best prices on our top picks in the widget below, or head to our best wake-up lights roundup for more info.