The best wake-up lights 2020: wake naturally from sleep, feeling less tired

Start the morning right with a wake-up light that can effectively combat those cold and dark days when you struggle to get out of bed

The best wake-up lights

Nobody likes waking up in the morning, especially to a piercingly loud alarm clock which makes us simply want to pull the covers over our heads and go back to sleep. However, if you find you particularly struggle with getting up in the mornings during the cold and dark winters, or, on the contrary, have trouble falling asleep at night, then a wake-up light or “sunrise lamp” is a great way to regulate your body clock and help you wake up naturally in the mornings ready to tackle the day.

How to buy the best wake-up light

The best wake-up lights you can buy tend to come from Philips, although Lumie is also a good option. Our current favourite is the Philips Somneo Sleep and Wake-up Light.

A wake-up light is designed to simulate sunrise to gradually wake you up in the mornings naturally rather than abruptly with a loud noise. They are similar to SAD therapy lights and can be effective for those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or anyone who wants to try a different way of getting up in the mornings. A wake-up light is usually a combination of a sunrise lamp, alarm clock and FM radio, which allows you to customise your mornings the way you wish. By using one of these lamps you should find yourself feeling a lot less tired and grumpy in the mornings, and a little more refreshed and motivated.

SAD therapy lights can contain up to around 10,000 lux, which is the unit of light emittance from the lamp. For wake-up lights, it’s usually around 100-300 lux and they gradually get brighter over the course of about 30 minutes until you are awake. Many also have the option to play naturally calming sounds in conjunction with the sunrise, or the FM radio station of your choice if you prefer. If you are very sensitive to sound, you can switch it off altogether and use only the sunlight simulation as your morning wake-up call. 

Sunrise lamps don’t have to be super-expensive either, so if you think you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder but can’t afford one of the pricier SAD energy lights, a wake up light is a good place to start. We’ve rounded up our pick of the best wake-up lights on the market to help you start your day right.

The best wake-up light

1. Philips Somneo Sleep and Wake-up Light

Feature-packed, coloured sunrise and sunset simulator

Best for: Personalised wake up settings
Power type: Mains
Lux: 315
FM Radio: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Morning light colour changes+Sunset simulation
Reasons to avoid
-Design is an ‘acquired taste’

The Philips Somneo is a feature packed wake-up light that also helps you relax and get to sleep at the end of the day. In the morning, the light starts off red and then turns to orange and then ends with bright yellow light, which leads to a gentler waking experience than a light that just goes through levels of white/yellow light.

You can choose how long you want the light to take from when it first comes on to when it reaches full brightness, and what level the full brightness should be (there are 25 levels), which is great if you’re a light sleeper or more sensitive to light. Additionally you can add audio in the form of nature sounds or FM radio to your wake-up schedule. There’s also an AUX socket for external audio and a USB socket for a phone charging lead.

When you want to relax or go to sleep, the Somneo offers two more modes. There’s sunset simulation where the lamp gradually dims over a chosen length of time (with nature sounds such as rain, if you want that, too) and a light-guided breathing mode which designed to help you relax by giving you seven rhythms of light intensity or sound to follow.

The touch display makes the Somneo easy to set up and adjust, the display brightness adjusts automatically to your room’s light (though you can adjust it manually, too) and a nice touch is that if you get up in the middle of the night you can tap the top of the lamp and it emits a gentle red glow so you can find your way in the darkness without flooding the room with light.

If we had one criticism of the Somneo, it’s that the design might split opinion. Philips describes it as “sleek and stylish”. You might disagree.

2. Lumie Bodyclock Active 250 Wake-Up Light

Maintain a regular sleep pattern with the Lumie sunrise lamp

Best for: Regulating sleep pattern
Power type: Mains/battery
Lux: 250
FM Radio: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Sound effects+Dimmable reading lamp
Reasons to avoid
-Tricky to programme  

If the Philips Wake Up Light is a little out of your price range, then Lumie comes in a close second and it’s a fraction of the cost. This sunrise lamp is designed to help regulate your body clock so you get the best night’s sleep possible. You can set a “sunrise” between 15 and 90 minutes depending on how quickly you want to wake up and it has a dimmable display for those who are super sensitive to light when trying to sleep. 

To further help those who struggle to get to sleep at night, the Lumie wake up light has a range of sounds including white noise for you to sleep or wake up to. Users have been particularly impressed with the radio’s sound quality and although not as bright as the Philips, the Lumie sunrise lamp is effective at easing you into the day.  

3. Lumie Zest- Combination Wake-up Light and SAD light Therapy

A certified medical device for those suffering from the winter blues

Best for: SAD
Power type: Mains
Lux: 2000
FM Radio: No
Reasons to buy
+2000 lux +15-30 minute sunrise setting
Reasons to avoid
-No battery power 

If you are suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder or simply feel the winter blues are getting to you, then Lumie also offer this SAD lamp which is clinically proven and certified to deliver light therapy that will improve your overall mood. With up to 2000 lux, this lamp is much more powerful than the other wake up lights, and is recommended by doctors to those suffering with SAD. 

It is small and compact meaning it can be taken on the go and can be great for use if you have jet lag but users would prefer if it had a battery power option. 20-30 minutes of light therapy a day is recommended to feel an improvement and users have found this wake up light easy to customise and programme to their needs. For something of a little higher quality and effective treatment of SAD, we highly recommend this little light.  

4. Philips HF3500/60 Wake-Up Light

An earlier Philips design, still the same great features

Best for: Simple design
Power type: Mains
Lux: 200
FM Radio: Yes
Reasons to buy
+10 light intensities+Snooze function
Reasons to avoid
-Short cable 

Although an older version of the Philips Wake Up Light, some users prefer the simpler design of this wake up light and find the controls much easier to use. It doesn’t have as many brightness settings but customers have said the 10 light intensities are enough to make your room as bright as a summer’s day. 

You have the choice of playing the FM radio or waking up to one of the two nature sounds, or simply just allow the light to wake you peacefully. If you still want to sleep in at the weekends, then this wake up light has a snooze button which will allow you to have that much needed lie in, and you can use the reading lamp function in the evenings before bed.  

5. LUNSY Wake Up Light

A great entry level wake up light for those on a budget

Best for: Budget buy
Power type: Rechargeable battery
Lux: n/a
FM Radio: No
Reasons to buy
+Easy to use+Rechargeable battery
Reasons to avoid
-No lux value

This light doesn’t have a lux value like actual light therapy sunrise lamps do, but the led bulb is extremely bright and has up to 20 levels of brightness which is still excellent for gradually waking up naturally every morning. If you have considered getting a SAD lamp but cannot afford one, then this Lunsy lamp is the perfect entry level model to help regulate your body clock. 

It runs on a rechargeable battery so you can place it anywhere, and customers actually prefer the style of this wake up light to the round ones on the list. It is also colour changing so you can use it as a bedside lamp or nightlight in any colour you wish and it is dimmable to create atmosphere.