Philips Hue users just got the cool free sleep feature they've been waiting for

We can't believe it took this long, to be honest

App screen showing Philips Hue sunrise automation
(Image credit: Philips)

Philips, the brand synonymous with today's best smart bulbs, has announced a range of updates to its enormously popular Hue line. There are a few product reveals and a few feature upgrades, but one that caught our eye is the new sunrise automation.

A welcome update to Hue's existing wake up options, the new addition cycles your bulb through from blue to soft orange light, getting brighter as it does so, just like a dedicated sunrise lamp. The idea is simple: to rouse you gently from your slumber, in a soothing and natural feeling way, so you start the day feeling more energised than you would if you were to be wrenched from unconsciousness by an aggressively bleeping alarm clock. You can choose how long you want the automation to take, as well as when you want it to reach its conclusion (i.e. when you definitely need to be awake). 

It seems like a no-brainer that Hue would offer this, given people are out there buying separate products dedicated to this exact thing. In fact, Philips actually makes some of today's best wakeup lights itself. There are still some benefits to going for a dedicated option – most sunrise lamps offer accompanying sounds, which obviously isn't an option with a smart bulb. We're also still waiting on a sunset feature that reverses the sunrise sequence to help you wind down in the evening, although there's no reason why Hue couldn't add this in the future.

Existing Hue users can access the automation for free via the Philips Hue app – look under the Wake up Automations Tab on Hue Bridge, or the Routines Tab if you use Bluetooth. It won't replace Hue's existing wake-up automation either; that's been renamed Fade to Bright. 

Philips Hue Signe lamp in a bedroom - rendering

(Image credit: Philips)

You can use the new automation with your existing smart bulb, provided it's a colour one, of course (get a rundown of the different options there in our Philips Hue review and guide). However, it has been "optimised for use with gradient lamps", which is Philips' subtle way of telling you it'll work way better if you have one of these. While a single bulb will just cycle through the different sunset colours, on a gradient lamp, the light will slowly move upwards along the length of the strip, for an altogether more accurate and magical sunset glow.

For maximum effect, Philips is hoping you'll shell out for one of its new oak-finish Signe gradient lamps, which look like if someone was designing a lamp but got called to a family emergency halfway through. Whether or not you personally like the 'minimalist cat tree' aesthetic (available in both table lamp and floor lamp versions), based on Philips' renderings, they do a great job of fading into the background to let the sunset effects take centre stage.

Ruth is currently on secondment as Sleep Editor for Tom's Guide and TechRadar. The role is an extension of her work on T3, where she ran the site's Wellness channel, which includes sleep, relaxation, yoga and general wellbeing. She was also Outdoors editor, reviewing and writing about everything from camping gear and hiking boots to mountain bikes, drones and paddle boards. She has tested more mattresses than her small flat can handle, and has had to implement a one-in-one-out pillow policy, for fear of getting smothered in the night.