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Unlike smartphones or traditional alarm clocks that rely solely on sound to wake you up, sunrise alarm clocks mimic the coming of dawn, with ever-increasing amounts of light.

Much like a traditional alarm clock, you can set a sunrise alarm clock to wake you at a specific time.

Some clocks allow you to control the amount of time that it takes to reach daylight, or maximum brightness. Others have a fixed amount of time, which typically ranges from 30 to 40 minutes.

Many sunrise alarm clocks include an audio component, too. In addition, you can opt for a model that includes a sunset simulator.

The use of timed light, such as that emitted by a sunrise alarm clock, has been shown to be an effective, noninvasive tool for improving the quality of sleep, mood, and well-being.

Research suggests that appropriately timed exposure to light can reset the sleep-wake cycle, helping people get up at a chosen time. Light therapy has also been shown to improve alertness and reduce grogginess during the day.

One small 2015 study on 17 men found that sunlight simulation may even reduce cardiovascular stress that can be caused by abrupt awakening.

  • Reviews and experience. To compile the sunrise alarm clocks on this list, we culled online reviews from multiple sources and pursued firsthand recommendations from users.
  • Company reputation. We only included clocks manufactured by reputable, transparent companies.
  • Price. We tailored our list to include as broad a range of prices and features as possible. We included intuitive, easy-to-use clocks, as well as those with lots of bells and whistles.

Pricing guide

Sunrise alarm clocks range from about $30 to $150. All the clocks on this list have sunlight or sunrise simulation capability. Most also include sunset simulation, as well as audio enhancements.

The most expensive versions contain extras, such as in-app libraries, remote control capability, or functions designed to enhance meditation.

Cost is indicated as follows:

  • $ = under $75
  • $$ = $75–$125
  • $$$ = over $125

Philips SmartSleep Sleep & Wake-Up Light, HF3650/60

  • Price: $$$

Formerly known as Somneo, this SmartSleep Sleep & Wake-Up Light by Philips includes five sunrise colors and 25 brightness settings for you to choose from. In addition, it allows you to fold nature sounds, ambient music, and FM radio settings into your waking up experience.

Philips says this sunlight simulator is designed to increase the amount of light it emits gradually, allowing for a more peaceful wake-up. This clock also includes a sunset simulator, so you can use it for settling down at night.

Finally, if you like to meditate before dozing off, you may appreciate RelaxBreathe, a light-guided wind-down function. It includes seven different rhythms and light intensities to choose from to help you regulate breathing.

Buy the Philips SmartSleep Sleep & Wake-Up Light online.

Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light, HF3520/60

  • Price: $$

This less expensive offering from Philips gives you the exact same sunrise and sunset simulator functions, but it doesn’t include the RelaxBreathe function mentioned above.

It does have 20 brightness settings, five different wake-up sounds, and FM radio.

Buy the Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light online.

The Flippable Alarm Clock/Ambient Light

  • Price: $

If you like waking up to sound but want the added benefit of dimmable, ambient light you can control, this alarm clock may appeal to you. It emits a gentle, warm glow that turns on or off automatically when you manually flip over the clock.

For example, at bedtime, you can use this clock as a night-light or extinguish its glow completely with an easy flip.

In the morning when the alarm sounds, you can flip your clock back over to cast a pale light that helps you wake up fully. But if you’re not ready to wake up, this clock includes a snooze feature.

The clock’s also ergonomically designed with large, easy-to-use buttons, and has a built-in battery that recharges via USB, plus a charging cord.

Buy The Flippable Alarm Clock/Ambient Light online.

hOme Sunrise Alarm Clock

  • Price: $

This budget-friendly sunrise alarm clock comes in your choice of eight LED-light colors — wake up to purple, blue, or yellow hues and more.

You can also add nature sounds such as birds or crashing waves to your wake-up experience or program the clock to play your favorite FM channel upon rising.

This clock does double duty as a bedside lamp or night-light, if you choose to leave it on overnight. There are three brightness levels you can choose from.

Reviewers say the lock is very easy to operate, but a manual is included.

Buy the hOme Sunrise Alarm Clock online.

Hatch Restore

  • Price: $$

Control the Hatch Restore sunrise arm clock directly on the device or from your phone via an app, using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. This clock uses a range of light hues to mimic dawn, going from red to orange to white before an alarm sound of your choosing goes off.

It also has features for nighttime use. This includes a soft reading light that doesn’t contain blue tones, so it won’t disrupt circadian rhythm.

In addition, the clock has a selection of wind-down content that can be used for meditation before sleep, or upon waking, as well as a library of soothing sounds and white noise that can be programmed for overnight play.

The clock comes with 6 months of free access to Hatch Premium, which gives unlimited access to a large selection of meditations, soundscapes, and sleep stories.

Buy the Hatch Restore online.

Homagical Sunrise Alarm Clock with Sunset Simulation

  • Price: $

This sunrise alarm clock includes two alarms — so it can be used for two people with different wake-up times or for weekday and weekend use.

The sunrise simulator goes through 20 levels, from soft red to bright sunlight. You can decide whether it takes 10 minutes or up to an hour to achieve full sunrise intensity.

The clock also includes seven natural sounds, plus an FM radio function.

The sunset simulator automatically dims for up to 2 hours. If you wish to use it as a night-light or reading lamp, you can choose between seven colors and 20 light levels.

Buy the Homagical Sunrise Alarm Clock with Sunset Simulation online.

Elfeland Wakeup Light

  • Price: $

The Elfeland alarm clock can be used as a sunrise simulator, night-light, or all-day lamp. It has three brightness levels to choose from plus seven LED colors. You can also program the lamp to fade from one color into the next — just for fun.

The accompanying audio alarm can be set to soft music, beeping, or nature sounds.

Buy the Elfeland Wakeup Light online.

JALL Smart Wake Up Light

  • Price: $

If you’re concerned about jet lag and waking up on time after a long flight, this sunrise alarm clock may fit the bill.

At 1.15 pounds, it’s small in size but not on features. It includes sunrise and sunset simulations that can be set for 10, 20, or 30 minutes each. Choose between seven colors, 20 brightness levels, and seven sounds.

In addition, it has FM radio capability, and it comes with dual alarms, so no worries if you’re traveling with a friend or need alarms at two different times. It also can be used as a soft night-light.

Buy the JALL Smart Wake Up Light online.

Sunrise alarm clocks are designed to work with the body’s natural circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm is a type of internal clock, set on a 24-hour time frame. It regulates your sleep-wake cycle.

Circadian rhythm is influenced significantly by sunlight. When light enters the eye, it travels through the optic nerves to the hypothalamus, where circadian rhythm is regulated. That’s why you tend to wake up when it gets light outside and begin to feel sleepy once it gets dark.

External factors, such as artificial, electric light, and the blue light emitted by computer screens, can throw circadian rhythm and the sleep-wake cycle out of whack. This can make it harder to fall asleep, stay asleep, or wake up at an appropriate time.

Sunrise alarm clocks simulate the ever-increasing amount of sunlight that occurs at dawn, and can be used to help you wake up gently and naturally.

Many sunrise alarm clocks also include sunset simulations, which can help you fall asleep.

But if a sunrise alarm clock isn’t enough to help you wake up on time and feel rested, you may want to try these tips or speak with your healthcare provider for advice.

Corey Whelan is a freelance writer and reproductive health professional who specializes in health and wellness content. She has spent much of the last two decades educating people about infertility and family building options. Whelan is a science nerd, and her heroes span the gamut from Temple Grandin to her wonderful mom. She shares her life in Brooklyn, NY with her all-grown-up, fascinating children and their wacky shelter dogs. Follow her on Twitter.