The best wake-up lights in 2020: sunrise lamps to help you wake naturally

Struggling to get out of bed? Rise and shine with one of the best wake-up lights

best wake-up light
(Image credit: xxxx)

Welcome to T3's guide to the best wake-up lights (also known as sunrise lamps). If you're spending a lot more time at home at the moment, you might notice you're starting to feel unmotivated and lethargic, and finding it takes all the more effort to get yourself out of bed in the mornings. But those first few minutes of reluctant wakefulness can set the tone for your whole day, so anything you can do to make them as pleasant as possible is worth it. Investing in a wake-up light might be just the thing to help you start the day off right.

Offering a blissful alternative to the traditional panic-fest that is being wrenched from a deep sleep by a screeching alarm clock, a wake-up light tricks our neanderthal brains into believing that we’re being roused naturally by the rising sun. This gentler, more relaxed start to the day can have stabilising effect on your circadian rhythm, and even help you feel more awake in the mornings.

The best wake-up light: Our top pick

You can read on for an in-depth rundown of the top options, but if you're in a hurry, here's the quick version. Although it’s a very close call for first place, we think the best wake-up light is the Lumie Bodyclock Luxe 750DAB, which pips the Philips Somneo to the post with its sleeker design and superior sound options.

They're both brilliant options, with seemingly endless scope for customisation, phone-charging capabilities, a choice of connectivity options, and natural-feeling wake-up and wind-down options that outstrip many other options on the market. However, neither is exactly cheap. 

If you're wanting something easier on the wallet, the red-through-white light cycle that enables these pricier models to replicate natural sunrises and sunsets is also present in the Beurer WL 75 Wake Up App Controlled Light is an excellent contender.

How to buy the best wake-up light

Lumie and Philips have really asserted themselves as the brand leaders in the wake-up light game. They seem to have really perfected the art over their last few models. In our list, you’ll find two apiece from each brand, offering some slightly older but still brilliant options alongside shiny new offerings.

At its core, a wake-up light simulates a natural sunrise to wake you gradually rather than abruptly. Everything on our list offers variations on that theme, many with extras like FM radio and built-in ambient sounds. Unlike an SAD therapy light, which usually emits around 10,000 lux, a wake-up light tends to hover around the 100-300 lux mark, getting gradually brighter over a predetermined stretch of time until you’re fully awake.

SAD therapy lights can also come with a hefty price tag, and if you’re a sufferer, you may find that one of our wake-up lights does the trick just as well – the Lumie Bodyclock Luxe, for instance, is a Class 1 graded medical device that’s recommended as a treatment for SAD, while its little brother the Lumie Zest also comes highly recommended for combating winter blues. 

If you’re simply looking for the best sunrise lamp to see off the grumps and get your day off to the best start, then it’s all a case of finding the features you can’t live without. We’ve got streamlined options that are all about the light, but if you’re looking for a more traditional alarm clock option, you may also want to choose one with FM or DAB radio built in, while those who have trouble getting off to sleep in the first place may want a light with a sunset mode.

best wake-up light: Lumie Bodyclock Luxe 750DAB

(Image credit: Lumie )

1. Lumie Bodyclock Luxe 750DAB

Sleek, sophisticated and SAD-battling – this Lumie model is our best wake-up light

Specifications
Best for: Functionality
Power type: Mains
Output: 370 lumens
Radio: DAB
Reasons to buy
+Excellent light and sound quality+Sleek design+Certified for SAD treatment
Reasons to avoid
-On the pricier side

Light, sound machine, DAB radio, Bluetooth speaker – this does-it-all option is our best wake up light. It’s a Class 1 graded medical device recommended for sufferers of SAD, but its solid, luxurious design means that it feels less like an obtrusive clinical accessory and more like a natural part of your bedroom decor, giving the best of both form and function.

While there are plenty of good wake up lights out there offering more than one function, one can often come at the expense of the other, especially with more budget-friendly models. Not so with the Lumie Bodyclock Luxe, which reviewers rated for its superior sound and light quality, its option to connect and charge your phone by USB (poor Bluetooth connectivity is a common complaint of some phone-controlled wakeup lights) and its huge range of options. 

Among these is a great low-blue light mode, specially designed to help you wind down before bed by signalling your body to produce melatonin and counteracting the false wakefulness incurred by using blue-light devices late at night (looking at you, phones and tablets). 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.

The best wake-up light: Philips Somneo

2. Philips Somneo

A feature-packed, coloured sunrise and sunset simulator

Specifications
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 works just as well for getting you off to sleep again at the end of the day. For mornings, you can choose the time your light takes to get to full brightness, as well as selecting from an impressive 25 levels what full brightness should look like – great if you’re a light sleeper or more sensitive to light. You can also add audio in the form of built-in nature sounds, FM radio, or your own music (you just need an AUX cord for the latter). As well as a sunset mode 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.

There are a few nice touches in terms of user-friendliness, too. 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 if you get up in the middle of the night you can tap the top of the lamp for a gentle red glow – just enough to see by without flooding the room with light.Our one criticism? The design is divisive. Philips describes it as 'sleek and stylish' – you may disagree.

best wake-up light: Beurer WL 75

(Image credit: Beurer)

3. Beurer WL 75 Wake Up App Controlled Light

A great-looking option for stylish sleepers

Specifications
Best for: Ease of use
Power type: Mains
Output: 2000 lumens
Radio: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Easy to set up and use+Bluetooth streaming+Individual daily settings
Reasons to avoid
-Bulky plug

Even the best products can sometimes be let down by rubbishy, poorly thought-through buddy apps. Not so with the Beurer WL 75. Reviewers found that the app’s interface was a dream to use, meaning that the light itself was fantastically simple to set up and programme – not always a given, even with the non-smart alarm clocks of yore.

Users loved that they could set different profiles for each day of the week, and praised the Beurer for its natural-feeling sunrise mode, a gentle, gradual fade-in of red to white which left them feeling well-rested. You can also choose sunset mode to be lulled off 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 somewhat homogenous bunch.

4. Philips HF3500/60

An earlier Philips design, still the same great features

Specifications
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.  

best wake-up light: iHome Zenergy

(Image credit: iHome)

5. iHome Zenergy Aroma

Lights, sounds, scents, and songs – all in one and all at your fingertips

Specifications
Best for: General wellness
Power type: Mains
Output: 115 lux
Radio: No
Reasons to buy
+Super versatile+Bluetooth audio streaming+Lots of light modes
Reasons to avoid
-Scent doesn’t go far

For a truly holistic wakeup option, look no further than the iHome Zenergy Aroma. Featuring light therapy, sound therapy, and aromatherapy, it’s a real all-singing all-dancing wellness tool for your bedside, and an excellent pick if you have trouble drifting off as well as waking up.

As well as six built-in sound therapy tracks including Zen, White Noise and an assortment of nature sounds, it also gives you the option to stream the audio of your choice from your phone via Bluetooth, giving the Beurer a real run for its money. This, alongside the option to choose between different light behaviours rather than just colours, makes it a supremely versatile and simply lovely tool for meditation, yoga and anytime relaxation as well as its intended purpose. Reviewers particularly loved the flickering candle effect, ideal for anyone who loves the romance of burning candles, but not the imminent threat of fire. On that note, there’s also a safety-themed thumbs up for the aromatherapy setting, which propels the scent of your chosen essential oil by fan, no water needed.

Lumie Zest

6. Lumie Zest

A certified medical device for those suffering from the winter blues

Specifications
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 the Lumie Zest is a 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.  

best wake-up light: Hatch Baby Rest Night Light

(Image credit: Hatch)

7. Hatch Baby Rest+

A multitasking option that's perfect for parents

Specifications
Best for: Kids
Power type: Mains
Output: Unspecified
Radio: N/A
Reasons to buy
+Multiple products in one+Control from your device+Suitable for babies and children
Reasons to avoid
-Cable can be temperamental

The most impressive thing about the Hatch Baby Rest+ is that it isn’t just the best wake up light for kids – it also functions as a nightlight, a white noise machine, and an ok-to-wake clock (or a time-to-rise clock, as it’s known here). 

It’s very customisable, allowing you to make schedules of sounds and lights to fit your child’s routine, and vastly increasing its longevity. 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 wakeup time?

Which brings us onto the other thing that sets the Hatch apart: unlike much of the competition, it’s all controllable from your smartphone or tablet. That means that 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.