Even the most morning-y morning people sometimes need a little bit of help to get out of bed. But the wrong alarm clock can make you more likely to dig yourself deeper under the duvet than bound out of bed. The good news is that the best alarm clocks won't just try to wake you up; they'll keep going until your day is well and truly seized.
The best alarm clock for you depends on the kind of sleeper you are. If you could sleep through the end of the world, look for a loud and/or vibrating alarm that will shake you awake; if you'd rather ease into the day, an alarm that wakes you with natural light can help avoid the morning grumps (for more on those, check out our guide to the best wake-up lights).
If you're searching for a perfectly restful night, be sure to head to our official ranking of the best mattresses right now, too.
- Nod off comfortably with one of the best pillows
- ... and snuggle up under one of the best duvets
- Struggle with anxiety or insomnia? One of the best weighted blankets could help
How to buy the best alarm clock for you
Pretty much any alarm clock or smartphone will get the job done, but some do it more beautifully than others. An alarm clock that's also a smart speaker can also give you the weather forecast, traffic report or play your favourite podcast; one with Bluetooth can pair with your phone for a getting-ready soundtrack.
If you're wondering why not use your phone as an alarm clock too, there's of course nothing to stop you – but phones put a world of tappable temptation (and in some cases, late-night work emails) right next to your bed, which can play havoc with your ability to relax. And if you forget to turn on do not disturb mode, they can do a lot of disturbing as notifications from your various messaging apps buzz or ping.
Also, alarm clocks look better than any dull glass slab. Leave the phone in another room and embrace one of these best alarm clocks instead.
Our pick of the best alarm clocks to buy today
If you've a fan of smart home technology – and as a T3 reader you almost certainly are – then the best alarm clock is a smart speaker, and the best value smart speaker is Amazon's third generation Echo Dot. It retains the hockey-puck design of the previous generation but puts a clock display on it to make it a proper alarm clock as well as a very useful smart speaker.
Don't be fooled by the promised improved speaker technology: there's only so much you can do about the laws of physics and the Echo will not deliver big, impressive audio. But the Dot's speaker is fine for radio and Alexa announcements, and while it's not going to sound as good as a big Echo or a JBL Horizon you're buying for price and convenience here. And Alexa is very convenient, enabling you to get information and control tech such as Hue lights with simple voice commands. You can even use it to make phone calls without getting out of bed.
To see how this sits within the Echo range, head to our guide to the best Alexa speakers. And you probably don't need to pay full price, either, as there are regular price drops on this range. Head to our roundup of the best Amazon Echo deals for the cheapest current offer.
There are lots of natural light alarm clocks out there, but few of them manage to combine good looks and a low price tag like this entry-level Lumie. In addition to 10 levels of white light it can do colours too, so you can wake yourself up with colours as well as with natural light. It's not as adjustable as some of the more expensive Lumie daylight lamps, and some reviewers report that it gets a little too bright a little too quickly for their taste. If that sounds like you, it may be worth looking at a more adjustable lamp with more than 10 discrete lighting levels.
The Lumie starts working half an hour before your alarm time. It slowly increases the illumination so that by the time it's time to get up, you're already starting to stretch and greet the dawn of a new day. You can use it to help you sleep as well as to wake you up: there's a 30-minute dimmer that slowly lowers the light level to help you drop off.
The Braun Analogue Alarm clock doesn't have Bluetooth, so you can't stream Spotify to it. It doesn't know what a smart bulb does, it doesn't have wheels, and you can't charge your phone with it. It won't wake you with natural light, and it can't tell you the weather forecast. It doesn't receive texts, and it won't keep you awake with overly loud ticks.
It's brilliant. This is the kind of alarm clock Steve Jobs would have had. It's a design icon – that face! – and its features are purely practical. This model, which is positively extravagant by Braun's minimalist standards, has grudgingly added a light so you can see the time in the dark, but other than that it does just two things: it tells you what the time is, and it wakes you up at the time you set it to. And sometimes, that's all you want.
We love the thinking behind the Clocky Alarm Clock on Wheels. It's one of those just-daft-enough ideas that you tend to have in the shower: wouldn't it be great if your alarm clock ran away when you tried to snooze it? By sticking the alarm clock on twin powered wheels and giving it a fairly loud speaker, Clocky is the alarm clock you won't sleep through. It's tough, too: as it's been designed to survive bedside table drops of up to 3 feet, it probably won't complain too much if you mash it in an attempt to stop the alarm.
There have been lots of imitators since Clocky first arrived, but while some are pretty good – we have a soft spot for Sony's various rolling speakers – Clocky manages to be both affordable and robust. Take that helicopter alarm clock out of your basket; if you want a clock that moves and that will still move after a few days of use, you're better off with a Clocky.
JBL is best known for its speakers, and the Horizon doubles as a portable speaker that plays FM radio or streams audio from your phone via Bluetooth. The sound quality is, as you'd expect, very good, although FM reception isn't always brilliant and the twin 5W speakers lack some of the low end you might expect from a dedicated audio device. We think the copywriter who described the sound as 'room filling' may live in a very small room, but it's fine for occasional listening and for the all-important alarms (browse the best portable speakers instead if you're after a speaker with oomph).
The Horizon isn't just about sound. It also has an ambient LED light feature that helps wake you up gradually, and you can set two different alarms so it wakes you at a separate time to your partner. It doubles as a charger too, so if you ignore our advice and take your phone into the bedroom you can use the Horizon to charge it.
The Sonic Bomb Alarm Clock is as relentless as it sounds and is one of the best alarm clocks for heavy sleepers. This clock is incredibly loud and includes a shaker pad that is placed underneath your pillow to literally shake you awake. It’s incredibly annoying, but if you think there is no other way you’re going to get up on time, this is sure to do the trick. It features two different programmable alarms (both as piercingly loud as each other) and an adjustable snooze button for those who just can’t kick the habit. This is ideal for those who need a kick up the backside in the morning.
If you currently use the alarm on your phone, then the iHome Bluetooth Color Changing Dual Alarm clock is the best alarm clock for you. There is nothing particularly exciting about the alarm options (although you can choose from a range of alarm settings), but it does sport some funky coloured lights, if you fancy waking up to a kind of gentle disco effect. This alarm clock also boasts some smart special features, including echo recognition and a Bluetooth Speaker for plug-and-play music from your smartphone.
We know it sounds weird, but bear with us: the iLuv Smart Shaker is an alarm that's completely silent. Instead of using sound to rouse you, this clever alarm clock vibrates to quietly and gently bring you out of your slumber, without disrupting the whole house. It's a great option for anyone with thin walls, or those who work different hours from their partner, or anyone who tends to sleep through their alarms – no more incessant beeping to irritate your family, neighbours or housemates as you happy snooze away.
The Amazon Echo Show 5 is slightly more expensive than our favourite smart alarm clock, the Echo Dot, but it adds a screen that's big enough to be useful without being too big for your bedside. A light sensor means it won't fill your room with light and it does all the smart speaker stuff you'd expect from controlling lighting to telling you the weather forecast, and the Alexa app works with the usual online suspects including Spotify. It doubles as a digital photo frame too, and while it includes a camera – something that generally speaking, you don't want in a device that's next to your bed – there's a panel you can slide over it for peace of mind.
As with all Amazon hardware, you should never pay full price. The Echo Show 5 is regularly discounted during Amazon's headline sales events and sometimes just because the day has a 'y' in it. Explore our regularly-updated guide to the best Amazon Echo deals for the cheapest current offer.