The 8 Best Sunrise Alarm Clocks of 2023

The Philips SmartSleep Wake-up Light has all the features a sunrise alarm clock should but doesn’t require a full splurge to reap the benefits of a more natural wakeup from sleep.

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Best Sunrise Alarm Clocks

Health / Kristin Kempa

You don’t have to be “not a morning person” to hate the ordeal of waking up in the morning at a predetermined time to the harsh and blaring sound of an alarm clock. Given a choice, most of us—morning people and night owls alike—would choose a gentler wake-up call, like the kind you get when you go camping and the slowly rising sun nudges you out of your slumber.

Reviewed & Approved

The Philips SmartSleep HF3520 Wake-up Light is an adjustable and easy-to-use option with a mid-range price point, making it a solid investment for all sunrise alarm clock users, including beginners. If you’re ready for something more sophisticated, the Hatch Restore Sound Machine and Smart Light comes with an app to make alarms and setting changes seamless.

Sounds idyllic and unrealistic, right? Not so: a sunrise alarm clock can simulate this process right from the comfort of your bed, easing you out of sleep with gradually increasing light and, in many cases, a cadre of peaceful sounds of your choosing.

“Sunrise alarm clocks can help establish more regular rhythms of light exposure, leading to more consistent bed and wake times,” says Terry Cralle, RN, certified clinical sleep educator for the Better Sleep Council. “This consistency helps ensure you are getting sufficient sleep and helps improve sleep quality.”

Sunrise alarm clocks are a relatively new product growing in popularity. While dozens of versions are sold, only a handful of these clocks are worth investing in. We talked to two sleep experts and researched more than 20 sunrise alarm clocks to find the ones standing above their competitors. With adjustable light settings, wireless or Bluetooth connectivity, app capabilities, and some unique additional features, here are the best sunrise alarm clocks on the market in 2023.

Best Overall

Philips HF3520 Wake-Up Light Therapy Lamp

4.9
Philips SmartSleep HF3520 Wake-up Light at Amazon

Amazon

Why We Like It: It’s “smart” enough to meet your needs but doesn’t overly complicate your wake-up call with any app or wireless requirements. 

It’s Worth Noting: It doesn’t have a replaceable light bulb, so you’ll have to invest in a new one when it burns out.

For anyone looking to buy a sunrise alarm clock for the first time, the Philips SmartSleep HF3520 Wake-up Light is the perfect entry point. With 20 adjustable light settings, a handful of soothing alarm sounds, and an additional sunset simulator to help you wind down at night, this clock knows exactly what it’s there to do: wake you up with the light settings of your choice, easing your transitions in and out of sleep to ideally improve the quality of your sleep overall.

We like that the clock is easy to operate, with all the settings adjustable right from the device rather than an app. You can tap it to snooze, listen to FM radio, and program the clock to wake you up with your chosen white noise (different bird sounds, instrumental music, and wave sounds). The clock can also be used as a bedside or reading lamp; just tap it for a temporary glow.

Between ease of use, customization of light settings, and overall design, the Philips SmartSleep is our recommended choice for first-time buyers or anyone wanting an effective but unfussy sunrise clock.

Price at time of publication: $100

Product Details:

  • App: No
  • Adjustable light settings: Yes
  • Sounds: Alarm, FM radio
  • Power source: Power cord
  • Wi-Fi/Bluetooth: No

Best Budget

JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock

4.3
JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock at Amazon

Amazon

Why We Like It: It’s similar in function and appearance to the Philips SmartSleep, but costs half as much.

It’s Worth Noting: The light and sound functions are paired, making it hard to use the light without noise added.

20 levels of brightness, FM radio and a small collection of white noise sounds, a sunset simulator, and optional bedside lamp mode…if this all sounds familiar, that’s because the JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock has nearly identical features to our best overall pick, the Philips SmartSleep, but also has a more wallet-friendly price tag. 

The JALL is also similar to the Philips SmartSleep in appearance, with its round shape and built-in digital clock. The JALL and Philips differ because while the JALL has additional light and sound settings—allowing you to change the color of the light across a spectrum of choices and offering seven sound options instead of five—it’s not quite as sophisticated in its functioning.

The JALL works the same as the Philips, but its sound and light settings are linked, meaning you can’t choose to have only the light wake you up. This might not be a dealbreaker for some people, especially at this price point, but anyone who is sensitive to white noise sounds or sleeps with a partner who doesn’t want to be disturbed by an alarm should be aware that the JALL might not work for them.

Price at time of publication: $43

Product Details:

  • App: No
  • Adjustable light settings: Yes
  • Sounds: Alarm, FM radio 
  • Power source: Power cord
  • Wi-Fi/Bluetooth: No

Best with App

Hatch Restore Sound Machine and Smart Light

4.7
Hatch Restore Sound Machine and Smart Light at Amazon

Amazon

Why We Like It: App-based settings make this clock easy to adjust and program, but if you don’t want to use the app, you can also program the clock with touch controls.

It’s Worth Noting:
An additional subscription (and expense) is required if you want to access all the possible features of this clock.

The clean and inviting interface designed to be used with the Hatch Restore Sound Machine and Smart Light makes it our pick for the sunrise clock with the best app. The app allows you to program the clock according to your preferences with a few quick swipes, and it’s intuitively easy to use, with clear setting and adjustment labels.

Within the app, you can choose brightness and color settings, make white noise and sleep story selections, and set alarm times, all to customize a full bedtime and wake-up routine for your clock to follow. The only downside here is that, with such personalized settings, it would be tough for more than one person to use the same clock. It’s also worth mentioning that some app features aren’t available unless you pay for a subscription; you don’t need these features to enjoy the clock, but if you feel like you’d be missing out otherwise, know that this increases the overall cost of the Hatch.

Overall, we love how well-designed the app is for this clock, along with the fact that you don’t have to use it all, if you lose access to your smart device—you can make the same setting adjustments right on the device itself using touch controls.

Price at time of publication: $130

Product Details:

  • App: Yes
  • Adjustable light settings: Yes
  • Sounds: Alarm, white noise
  • Power source: Power cord
  • Wi-Fi/Bluetooth: Yes

Best Features

Philips SmartSleep Connected Sleep and Wake-Up Light

Philips SmartSleep Connected Sleep and Wake-Up Light HF3670

Amazon

Why We Like It: It takes the basic functions of the Philips HF3520 and builds upon them in seamless, sophisticated ways.

It’s Worth Noting: This is the most expensive sunrise alarm clock on our list, so it’s kind of a commitment.

If you’re already a sunrise alarm clock devotee and want to level up to a device with more features, the Philips SmartSleep HF3670 Light Therapy Lamp is a luxury version of our simpler and more budget-friendly best overall pick, the Philips SmartSleep HF3520. 

Starting with many of the same features as the basic SmartSleep clock, the advanced HF3670 stands out from its competitors with several bonus features that maximize the convenience and ease of use of having a sunrise alarm clock on your bedside table. The clock has a sensor that monitors the environment of your bedroom, alerting you to ambient temperature and humidity levels. Personalized sunrise and sunset settings combine with light-guided breathing meditation exercises to help you transition smoothly from asleep to awake. Plus, you can charge your phone through the clock’s USB port.

Finally, the compatible app, the SleepMapper, allows you to keep track of your sleep habits and sync them up to other health apps for insights into your health habits. It might not be the best choice for beginners, but if you take your sunrise clock wakeups seriously, so does the Philips HF3670.

Price at time of publication: $200

Product Details:

  • App: Yes
  • Adjustable light settings: Yes
  • Sounds: Alarm, FM radio, white noise, guided meditation 
  • Power source: Power cord
  • Wi-Fi/Bluetooth: Yes

Best for Kids

Hatch Rest 2nd Gen

Hatch Rest 2nd Gen

Hatch

Why We Like It: Remote programming gives parents maximum control of the clock from anywhere in the house, while lights and sounds create kid-friendly cues in the morning and at night.

It’s Worth Noting: There’s no option to gradually increase the light, like an actual sunrise—it’s more of an “off” and “on” clock.

There are many wake-up clocks aimed at helping kids learn when they should be sleeping and when it’s okay to get up for the day, but most of them function like traditional alarm clocks. Not the Hatch Rest Baby Sound Machine and Night Light: not only does it mimic sunrise and sunset with a variety of light cues, but it can also be programmed through an app on your smartphone, allowing parents to make setting adjustments from somewhere other than their kid’s bedroom. 

Technically, this clock doesn’t simulate sunrise the way its competitors do; you can’t program it to get gradually lighter over a period of time, only to pop on when it’s time to wake up. But what this clock lacks in sunrise simulation, it more than makes up for in kid-friendly features for both day and night. It’s a sound machine with a host of white noise options and a nightlight for middle-of-the-night wakings; it helps your child wind down with sleep stories, guided rest, and lullabies through the app; and it can be set to turn on in a wide range of colors, allowing your child to choose their favorite hue.

Although the clock includes the digital time, there’s no time-telling required for your child to utilize it—appealing lights and sounds will let your child know when it’s bedtime or wake-up time. With all the app capabilities here, the Hatch Rest might become your child’s favorite sleepytime companion (and if it helps them get more sleep, you’ll love it, too). 

Price at time of publication: $70

Product Details:

  • App: Yes
  • Adjustable light settings: Yes
  • Sounds: Alarm, white noise 
  • Power source: Power cord
  • Wi-Fi/Bluetooth: Yes

Best Digital

Cabtick Sunrise Alarm Clock at Amazon

Cabtick Sunrise Alarm Clock at Amazon

Amazon

Why We Like It: It has a clearly defined digital clock piece that stands out from the rest of the lamp, allowing you to view the time with a quick glance.

It’s Worth Noting: It has fewer light settings than the similarly-priced JALL we featured as our best budget pick.

All of the sunrise clocks on this list include a digital clock, but in some cases, the seamless designs make it hard to actually read the time clearly. What we like about the Cabtick Sunrise Alarm Clock is that the bottom portion looks exactly like a typical digital clock, with a black screen and lighted white digits—that makes it the most similar to the kind of digital clock you probably currently have on your nightstand, and the easiest sunrise clock to read.

Above the digital clock interface of the Cabtick is a large half-circle lamp, where all the sunrise features come in. Like most of the other clocks on this list, the Cabtick has multiple degrees of adjustable brightness (12, including a few color tones), sunrise and sunset simulation, FM radio and white noise options, plus Bluetooth capability allowing you to play your music of choice. 

It’s not the fanciest option on our list, but the Cabtick is reliable, budget-friendly, and looks the most like a traditional digital alarm clock with its ultra-readable design. 

Price at time of publication: $50

Product Details:

  • App: No
  • Adjustable light settings: Yes
  • Sounds: Alarm, FM radio, white noise 
  • Power source: Power cord
  • Wi-Fi/Bluetooth: Yes

Best with Sounds

iHome Zenergy Dream Mini at Amazon

iHome Zenergy Dream Mini at Amazon

Amazon

Why We Like It: You get more sound choices with this device than many others, including guided meditation, FM radio, and Bluetooth music streaming.

It’s Worth Noting: It lacks light adjustment options and has no sunset simulation.

The iHome Zenergy Dream Mini is a powerful device in a petite package, featuring 16 different sound therapy options and many light settings. Like a pretty little triangular prism on your bedside table, the iHome Zenergy Mini can cycle through the full spectrum of color based on your mood and personal alarm settings. 

Though you can’t customize the length of your sunrise wakeup, the Zenergy Mini offers a broader range of sound options than many of the clocks on this list. Rather than just bird calls, waves, and some white noise, the Zenergy Mini includes sounds like storm, chimes, ocean, air, and heartbeat—plus, you can choose a guided, 4-7-8 breathing meditation option, a proven technique for reducing stress and anxiety. You can also tune in to your local FM radio or stream music from a Bluetooth device, further maximizing the amount of sound choices available through the Zenergy Mini. 

While this device prioritizes sound therapy a bit more than light therapy, we think it’s the perfect choice for someone who wants a sunrise clock and more control over their alarm sound or music streaming options.

Price at time of publication: $150

Product Details:

  • App: No
  • Adjustable light settings: Yes
  • Sounds: Alarm, white noise 
  • Power source: Power cord
  • Wi-Fi/Bluetooth: Yes

Best Portable

Casper Glow Light

4.6
Casper Glow Light

Bed Bath & Beyond

Why We Like It: It’s a nightlight, a sunrise clock, a portable do-everything-in-the-dark light—it’s whatever kind of little light you need it to be.

It’s Worth Noting: It doesn’t make any alarm noises or display the time; it’s purely for sunrise light therapy.

Not only is the Casper Glow Light a legitimate sunrise clock in its own right, it has a feature almost no other clock on this list has: extreme portability. Because it powers up through a plugged-in charging pad, you can literally grab the Casper in the middle of the night, give it a little jiggle, and take it with you to the bathroom or kitchen (or anywhere!) as a soft-glow night light.

While its portability is enough to sell us on the Casper, it holds up in comparison to other popular sunrise clocks when it comes to other features, too. It’s built with a core piece and a durable plastic shell, so it stands up to everyday wear and tear, plus lets you adjust the brightness level of the light by gently turning the clock on its center in one direction or another. It dims itself at night as you fall asleep, then gradually brightens in the morning to wake you up. Meanwhile, the optional Glow app can make it easier to program and adjust your light, though it isn’t required for use. 

We should mention that the Casper is all about light therapy: it doesn’t make any alarm sounds or include a digital clock, so you may still need to keep a digital alarm clock around for serious wakeup calls. As a portable reading lamp, nightlight, “okay to wake” clock combo, though, the Casper can’t be beat.

Price at time of publication: $116

Product Details:

  • App: Yes
  • Adjustable light settings: Yes
  • Sounds: None 
  • Power source: Power cord
  • Wi-Fi/Bluetooth: Yes

How We Selected

To find the best sunrise alarm clocks, we consulted with two sleep experts to find out how they work, their health benefits, and which features you should keep in mind while shopping for one that fits into your wake-up routine.

Our experts noted that adjustable light settings and gentle alarm sounds are the two most important features, so while this list includes plenty of clocks with advanced options—like Bluetooth music streaming, app programming, and portability—we made sure the products we chose allow the user to choose the light brightness and tone that works best for them, as well as clocks that offer white noise, music, and nature sounds versus the traditional beeping and blaring. 

Essentially, we made sure the clocks featured here provide the gentle wake-up that sunrise alarms are meant to provide, no matter how simplistic or advanced the rest of the features.

What to Know About Sunrise Alarm Clocks

How Sunrise Alarm Clocks Work

Sunrise alarm clocks are designed to mimic the effects of natural daylight on mood and energy levels; they do this by gradually brightening over a set amount of time to the full brightness setting of your choosing. 

“The human brain is naturally wired to respond to light,” says Po-Chang Hsu, MD, medical content expert at SleepingOcean. “When the alarm imitates the sunrise, the brain responds to the light with wakefulness and alertness, allowing the sleeper to wake up more easily [and naturally].”

Often, these clocks will provide some kind of alarm sound to ensure you fully awaken at the time needed, but these sounds are usually more of the soothing kind (bird sounds, waves, white noise) than the traditional beeping. The goal, with both the light and sound, is a gentler, more natural awakening process.

Features to Look for When Shopping for a Sunrise Alarm

  • Adjustable light settings. You should be able to select not only the brightness setting of your choice but also the color tone, i.e., warm or cool, says Dr. Hsu: “It’s crucial to pay attention to the range of colors, [since you] might use dim, warm lighting in the evening to mimic sundown and brighter light in the morning.”
  • Sounds. Most sunrise alarm clocks include a sound library, though this may be as limited as five or six sounds or as expansive as 12 or more. These sounds can be gentle nature sounds, white noise, or music, but in most cases, won’t be the typical beeping of a regular alarm clock.

Dr. Hsu says this by design: “It’s best to stick to nature sounds or soft, unintrusive music that won’t startle the sleeper.”

With the goal of creating a more natural wake-up, most of the sounds included on a sunrise clock are meant to help you rise gradually rather than with a sudden burst of noise. However, you should make sure the sounds included in your clock’s sound library are ones you would actually want to hear before you commit to purchasing one.

  • Wireless connectivity. If you don’t care whether or not your clock can sync to another one of your devices, you don’t need any wireless connectivity, but if you’re hoping to be woken up by your favorite music playlist or control your light from your smart device, you’ll need an option for WiFi or Bluetooth, so make sure the clock you choose is set up for this.
  • Smart features. Speaking of smart devices, your sunrise alarm clock doesn’t have to be “smart,” but if you want to easily program it from an app, connect it to your music library to stream your favorite songs, or send your sleep metrics to one of your other health apps, then you’ll have to choose a more expensive clock that has these extra features.

What You Can Expect to Pay for a Sunrise Alarm Clock

It varies widely, depending on the features you’re looking for and how “smart” you want your clock to be. Basic sunrise alarm clocks, like the JALL Wake Up Light or Cabtick Sunrise Alarm Clock featured here, cost less than $50. More sophisticated versions, like the Philips SmartSleep HF3520, cost $100 or more, and the really advanced clocks—with apps and other extras, such as the Hatch Restore Sound Machine and Smart Light—can get as high as $150 to $200. 

Your Questions, Answered

Do sunrise alarms actually work? 

Let’s put it this way: they can work. They may not make a huge difference for you, personally, but Cralle says the dawn simulation provided with these clocks expose a person to slowly increasing light intensity that can help you wake up more quickly, and with more energy, than traditional alarm clocks. 

“The gradual nature of the increasing level of light is thought to mimic a natural sunrise, essentially waking us up before our eyes open,” she adds. “However, this does not have the same effect as suddenly turning on a bedroom light; I find them much less jarring than a traditional alarm clock, and overall, a much more pleasant way to wake up.”

Are sunrise alarm clocks healthy? 

Surprisingly, they do have some serious health benefits. Aside from helping people wake up more easily, notes Dr. Hsu, sunrise alarm clocks can help you establish a consistent sleep and wake routine that helps your internal clock operate more smoothly and improves overall sleep quality.

  • They’re a daylight savings time(saver): “A sunrise alarm clock can reduce morning grogginess, especially during winter when there’s less natural sunlight,” says Dr. Hsu.
  • As a visually-focused device, sunrise alarm clocks can be helpful for the hearing impaired, says Cralle. 
  • They can correct circadian rhythms, per Dr. Hsu, who says sunrise clocks can help people who have worked late shifts or who have simply been thrown off their usual sleep cycle get back on a consistent schedule, get more sleep, and start feeling better physically and mentally. 
  • They may be beneficial for people with seasonal affective disorder, Cralle says: “The findings of a study of 57 medical students published in 2020 suggested that a two-week sunrise alarm clock protocol with electronic device removal effectively improved sleep quality, reduced burnout scores, and [improved] perceived stress.”

What is the best sunrise alarm clock? 

There is no single best sunrise alarm clock; we like the two Philips versions included on this list because they’re aesthetically well-designed, offer plenty of customization settings, and come with a two-year warranty. (Plus, we appreciate that there’s basically a low-tech and high-tech option, so your clock can be as smart as you want it to be.)

That said, there are cheaper versions of these clocks on the market that might fit your needs just as well for half the cost. The “best” clock is the one that has the settings and options you need to get a better night’s sleep and wake up feeling more rested in the morning.

Do sunrise clocks work for heavy sleepers? 

According to Cralle, the benefits of a sunrise clock extend to both light and heavy sleepers. That said, an excessively heavy sleeper may need to pay special attention to the alarm sound options included with their clock—and a sunrise clock can’t correct a true sleep disorder

“If you don’t get enough sleep or have an undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorder, these alarm clocks won’t provide a noticeable improvement,” Cralle notes.

Who We Are

Sarah Bradley has been a freelance writer since 2017, tackling health commerce articles, product reviews, and shopping guides on everything from dry skin moisturizers and wart removers to menstrual cups and toothbrushes for braces. With three kids at home, she’s pretty much always tired—so she knows exactly what features a good sunrise alarm clock needs to have to make getting out of bed in the morning easier.

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Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Brubaker JR, Swan A, Beverly EA. A brief intervention to reduce burnout and improve sleep quality in medical studentsBMC Medical Education. 2020;20(1):345. doi:10.1186/s12909-020-02263-6

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