Best 9 Best Alarm Clocks of 2023

The Hatch Restore makes it easier to stick to a sleep schedule by using sound and light to help you wind down and wake up.

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Best Alarm Clocks for All Types of Sleepers
Amazon

One of the best things you can do for your health is to stick to a sleep schedule and wake up at the same time, seven days a week. While some people can do this on their own, "most people need an alarm clock," says Dennis Auckley, MD, Professor of Medicine at Case Western University and Director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at MetroHealth in Cleveland.

To select the best alarm clock for you, remember the physician's creed, "First, do no harm." Avoid alarms with bright white or blue displays and those you can't trust to weather an overnight power disruption—both could increase anxiety and arousal at night.

Next, look to your sleep habits and personal preferences to guide how you'd like your alarm clock to wake you up and whether you'd like it to help you wind down. You'll be able to choose from an array of sound, light, and vibration options. Dr. Auckley says the best method depends on individual needs and preferences. There's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to alarm clocks.

To find the best in class clocks for every kind of sleeper, we surveyed the research, spoke with sleep experts, and scoured the specifications and user manuals of more than 200 models.

Here are the best alarm clocks.

Best Overall

Hatch Restore Sound Machine and Smart Light

4.7
Hatch Restore Sound Machine and Smart Light at Amazon

Amazon

Why We Like It: The Hatch Restore uses light and sound to support a consistent morning and evening routine and doesn't compromise on the basics.

It's Worth Noting: This device does not have a backup battery and won't wake you during a power outage, but it will remember your settings when power comes back.

"From a sleep health standpoint," says Dr. Auckley, "we strongly believe in keeping a regular sleep schedule." The Hatch Restore makes it easy to do just that with programable sleep routines—cued light and sound that start at specific times or with a tap—to help you wind down and wake up. For our top choice, we knew we wanted an alarm clock that delivered a full-color dawn simulation in addition to sound because, while there is no one optimal way to wake up that works for everyone, research shows that light influences your sleep-wake cycle. Although research on sunrise alarm clocks is lacking, according to the CDC, there's good reason to believe that light exposure in the morning could make it easier for you to start your day.

The Hatch Restore does the basics right, too. We liked that the digital display is 100% dimmable and able to be turned off completely. But what we really loved is that you can set a schedule to completely shut off the display during your sleeping hours, putting a complete stop to sleep-interfering light and stressful clock-watching.

While we wished this model had a backup battery, the Bluetooth functionality means that the Hatch Restore won't lose your settings during a power disruption and will pick up right where it left off once power returns. It's also important to note that, while the app also allows you to set different wake routines on different days, it's best to leave this feature unused and settle on one wake time seven days a week.

Price at time of publication: $130

Product Details:

  • Size: 7.5 x 5.75 inches
  • Power: Plug-in
  • Display: Digital, 100% dimmable (Including off)
  • Wake-up Method: Light (colored, sunrise), sound (custom, including gentle wakeups and traditional alarms)
  • Wind-down Method: Light (colored, sunset), sound (custom, including music, soundscapes, sleep stories, breathing exercises, mindfulness, and yoga)

Best Budget

KWANWA Alarm Clock

Alarm Clock

KWANWA

Why We Like It: This battery-operated alarm clock can be placed anywhere.

It's Worth Noting: The night mode will automatically dim the display from 8 pm to 6 am and can't be adjusted to accommodate other sleep schedules.

This is an alarm you can work with. A stripped-down clock free of distracting extras, the KWANA Battery Operated Alarm Clock is also free of cords, which we like because it makes it easy to implement two standard recommendations from sleep experts.

The first is to turn the clock face away from you overnight. This not only limits light but also puts a stop to clockwatching—a stress-perpetuating cycle common for people with insomnia—where "you're losing sleep over losing sleep," says Spencer Dawson, PhD, DBSM, a clinical psychologist specializing in sleep and an assistant clinical professor and associate director of clinical training at Indiana University in Bloomington.

The second recommendation is to place the clock farther away such that you have to get up to turn it off. Dawson recommends this approach for people who struggle to get out of bed and find themselves "hitting the snooze button a dozen times."

When he recently bought alarm clocks for his guest rooms, Dawson went with simple ones with red displays, like the KWANA Battery Operated Alarm Clock. If you prefer an alarm clock that plugs in and are willing to spend a little more, we recommend the DreamSky Compact Digital Alarm Clock ($26), which isn't as portable but does have a 100% dimmable, red display.

Price at time of publication: $22

Product Details:

  • Size: 5.1 x 2.6 inches
  • Power: Battery
  • Display: Red LED with 3-level dimmer
  • Wake-up Method: Sound (buzzer)
  • Wind-down Method: None

Best Bluetooth

Loftie Smart Alarm Clock

4.4
Loftie Smart Alarm Clock

Amazon

Why We Like It: After the initial setup, you don't need your smartphone to take advantage of the Bluetooth features.

It's Worth Noting: This custom two-phase alarm might be too gentle to wake heavy sleepers or people who are hard of hearing.

Everything about the Loftie clock is designed to instill a feeling of calm—a state that supports restful sleep. Although its Bluetooth connectivity gives you access to an ever-expanding library of alarm tones, white noise, nature sounds, breathwork, meditations, stories, and sound baths, its built-in navigation means you don't need your phone to access any of it. That way you won't be tempted to grab your phone if you want to tweak your bedtime routine or need help falling back asleep due to insomnia, which is a departure from the other Bluetooth devices we reviewed.

For all of its tech-forward features, the Loftie Clock doesn't neglect the fundamentals. It has a full battery backup, and the display is dimmable with a blackout mode. However, unlike our best overall choice, the Loftie Clock's alarm only uses audio. While its signature two-phase alarm may work well for light sleepers, it may not work as well for people who sleep more deeply, are hard of hearing or Deaf, or who respond best to light or vibration.

Price at time of publication: $150

Product Details:

  • Size: 6.5 x 2.75 x 2.75 inches
  • Power: Plug-in with rechargeable backup battery
  • Display: Digital, dimmable
  • Wake-up Method: Sound (custom two-phase alarm)
  • Wind-down Method: Light (nightlight), Sound (custom, including sleep timer, breathwork, sound bath, and guided meditation)

Best for Kids

Hatch Rest+ 2nd Gen Portable Dream Machine

Dream Machine

Hatch

Why We Like It: This parent-controlled smart clock promotes sleep hygiene for kids with its customizable bedtime routines while also delivering a double-whammy of sound and light to rouse even the sleepiest little ones at the right time.

It's Worth Noting: You will need to download a free app to program your device, and you'll find that some sound and light settings are only available with a Hatch Sleep Membership.

When selecting the best alarm clocks for kids, we sought out a model that employed both sound and light to alert kids to wake up. This duo may be particularly helpful for older children who have early school start times—a biological mismatch, according to Harvard University, because adolescents' sleep and waketimes are naturally shifted later. For these youth, who often have difficulty waking in the morning, an alarm clock that offers sound and light may be particularly effective and can help recalibrate their internal clock, says Dr. Auckley.

In addition to promising wake-up methods, the Hatch Rest+ 2nd Gen has sleep-helping extras like bedtime routines, which you can program using a selection of sound-machine style settings and guided wind-down content. While your child may not be particularly anxious about a potential alarm failure, parents will appreciate the backup battery, which is new with this model.

Price at time of publication: $90

Product Details:

  • Size: 4 x 4 x 6.25 inches
  • Power: Plug-in with rechargeable backup battery
  • Display: Digital, dimmable (including the ability to turn off completely)
  • Wake-up Method: Light (colored, sunrise), sound (custom, including gentle wakeups and traditional alarms)
  • Wind-down Method: Light (colored, sunset), Sound (custom, including music, soundscapes, sleep stories, breathing exercises, mindfulness, and yoga)

Best Sunrise

Philips HF3520 Wake-Up Light Therapy Lamp

4.9
Philips SmartSleep HF3520 Wake-up Light at Amazon

Amazon

Why We Like It: This sunrise alarm clock takes you through a full-color dawn simulation without bringing along any additional technology that might compromise your sleep.

It's Worth Noting: With an output of 300 lux, this clock—like all sunrise alarm clocks we reviewed—isn't bright enough to deliver light therapy for SAD, which generally requires 10,000 lux.

"The language of the circadian rhythm is light," says Dr. Dawson. That's partly why, he told us, he personally uses a dawn simulator alarm clock. For him, it's "hugely preferable to waking up in total darkness, which is not a signal to your brain that it's time to be awake." He says that sunrise alarm clocks that progress from red to orange to yellow can be particularly beneficial during the parts of the year when those at higher latitudes or living under daylight savings are forced to wake when it's still dark.

In our research, we found many other sunrise alarm clocks also invite bedtime bugaboos with features like USB charging, Bluetooth connectivity, and bright displays. The Philips SmartSleep Wakeup Light skips all that, offering a sleep-friendly orange display you can dim and even turn off, all without messing with a smartphone. In the event of a power outage, you have up to eight hours of backup, long enough to cover the amount of sleep most people need. If your bed partner needs to sleep later or longer than you, they may need a sleep mask to ensure they aren't woken prematurely.

Price at time of publication: $100

Product Details:

  • Size: 6 x 10 x 10 inches
  • Power: Plug-in with 8-hour backup battery
  • Display: Orange light with 4-level dimmer
  • Wake-up Method: Light (sunrise); Sound (custom, FM radio)
  • Wind-down Method: Light (sunset)

Best for Heavy Sleepers

Sonic Alert Sonic Bomb Extra-Loud Dual Alarm Clock

Sonic Alert Sonic Bomb Extra-Loud Dual Alarm Clock

Amazon

Why We Like It: This alarm clock pulls out all the stops—with strong vibration, loud volume, and strobe lights—making it perfect for heavy sleepers in addition to those who are hard of hearing or Deaf.

It's Worth Noting: If you have a bed partner, this alarm will almost certainly wake them, too.

We know that if you're a heavy sleeper, you may need stronger stimuli to wake up than the typical sleeper, and the Sonic Bomb Alarm Clock with Super Shaker delivers. The maximum volume (113 db) is louder than any other that came up in our research. The shaker, advertised as having industry-leading power, appears to be stronger than any other currently on the market. The strobe lights are also more jarring than other types of lighted alarm clocks. We like that each of these features can be adjusted and then used together or separately to give you the custom wake-up you need to get moving.

On the flip side, for an alarm designed to wake you up like a bomb went off, we were impressed with features designed not to be too disruptive. This isn't a smart clock, so you won't be pestered with alerts at night. It's powered by a plug-in with a backup battery, the gold standard for reliability that many otherwise excellent alarm clocks miss. Its red display can be dimmed to a low setting, while many other alarm clocks for heavy sleepers have white or blue LEDs, which aren't ideal from a sleep health perspective. You'll have to look elsewhere for help falling asleep though, as this clock lacks any wind-down features.

Product Details:

  • Size: 20.46 x 15.35 inches
  • Power: Plug-in with backup battery
  • Display: Red LED with 5-level dimmer
  • Wake-up Method: Sound (buzzer), lights (flashing), vibration
  • Wind-down Method: None

Best Vibrating

Sonic Alert SBP100 Portable Loud Vibrating Alarm Clock

Alarm Clock

Sonic Alert

Why We Like It: This small, battery-operated alarm clock will slide into bed with you where it won't bother you until it's time to shake you awake.

It's Worth Noting: There is no bedside component to this clock, so if you want something on your nightstand too, you'll do better with our pick for heavy sleepers.

For people who are hard of hearing or visually impaired, or those who simply prefer a tactile alarm, vibration can be the best way to wake up. We like that the design of this clock, which clips into your pillow or bed, encourages you to put your clock out of sight overnight. The display is dark with a simple backlight, so it won't emit bothersome light overnight. We like that the alarm clock has several features encouraging peace of mind, including a clip so it'll stay in place overnight, even if you don't. It has a test mode so you can confirm that you can trust the batteries to last until morning.

Unlike most other vibrating alarm clocks, this one is cord-free, which can be especially helpful for people who use CPAP equipment and already have plenty of cords to deal with. In addition to a bed shaker, the Sonic Shaker Alarm Clock has an optional 90-decibel buzzer, a helpful addition for heavy sleepers.

Price at time of publication: $35

Product Details:

  • Size: 2.8 x 2.8 x 1.3 inches
  • Power: Battery
  • Display: LCD flip up
  • Wake-up Method: Vibration, sound (buzzer)
  • Wind-down Method: None

Best Radio

DreamSky Decent Alarm Clock Radio with FM Radio

DreamSky Decent Alarm Clock Radio with FM Radio
Amazon

Why We Like It: With an orange display that's 100% dimmable, this clock radio stands out against the competition for minimizing sleep-interrupting light.

It's Worth Noting: This alarm clock includes a temperature display and USB charger for your device, which could be distracting for some people.

Many radio alarm clocks we reviewed miss the mark, delivering radio wake-ups at the expense of sleep health. The biggest culprit by far is bright white or blue screens that can't be sufficiently dimmed. This model is a refreshing deviation, with an orange display that can be 100% dimmed and even turned off.

This benefit is so big that we forgave potential sleep-disrupting extras, like the temperature display and USB charger. We liked the sleep timer, which lets you wind down with your favorite radio program without keeping you up later than you want to be. Ditto for the backup battery, which means this is a clock you can count on.

Price at time of publication: $29

Product Details:

  • Size: 5 x 2.7 inches
  • Power: Plug-in with backup battery
  • Display: Orange, 100% dimmable (including off)
  • Wake-up Method: Sound (radio, buzzer)
  • Wind-down Method: Sound (radio)

Best App

Delight Room Co., Ltd. Alarmy

Delight Room Co., Ltd. Alarmy
Alarmy

Why We Like It: This app's unique features mean you won't turn off your alarm and fall back asleep.

It's Worth Noting: It appears that you can, however, press snooze indefinitely.

While the sleep experts we spoke to don't generally recommend using a smartphone as an alarm clock, they can be a convenient, affordable option for people who aren't sensitive to light or prone to distraction. If you are set on using your phone, but you find yourself turning its native alarm clock off and sinking back into sleep, we like that this app comes loaded with features to disrupt that process. To dismiss the alarm on your iPhone or Android device, you have to complete missions that you select, like squats, steps, math problems, or even scanning a barcode or QR code. These small bursts of activity can help heavy sleepers get going. You can also set up a wake-up check to confirm that you really are awake.

In our research in this category, we found other apps that purport to wake you during your lightest sleep phase, which is appealing because waking during deep sleep can leave you feeling groggy. However, Dr. Auckley says "That's probably a little bit of an oversell because, certainly for adults, your deep sleep or slow wave sleep is pretty much gone by halfway through the night."

Product Details:

  • Size: App
  • Power: Smartphone
  • Display: Smartphone
  • Wake-up Method: Sound (custom, including music and ringtones), missions
  • Wind-down Method: Sound (custom, including meditation, sleep stories, ASMR, music, and more)

How We Selected

To determine the best alarm clocks, we reviewed relevant research and expert-recommended best practices for sleep, including Healthy Sleep Habits from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine's Sleep Education Center. We also spoke with a clinical psychologist and a medical doctor, both with board certifications in sleep medicine in their respective fields. They told us what features really matter from a sleep health perspective (and which don't). They were able to add context to marketing claims and help make sense of the suite of features available.

Armed with this background, we poured over the alarm clock marketplace, reviewing product manuals and specifications for more than 200 models across more than two dozen brands to see how they stacked up. We prioritized alarm clocks without distracting features and those with displays you can dim (or turn off) and with some sort of alarm backup or memory. To reflect a range of sleepers, we selected alarm clocks with a variety of approaches to wake-up and wind-down.

What to Know About Alarm Clocks

When shopping for alarm clocks, it's important to select one that is compatible with a healthy sleep environment. At a minimum, you should avoid features that will increase arousal and anxiety at night, including distracting add-ons, a bright display, and an untrustworthy alarm. Other features, like the method of wake-up and wind-down, are more a matter of personal preference. Here's what you need to know.

Distracting Features

The sleep experts we talked to agreed that distracting features should be avoided in alarm clocks. These features have the tendency to increase arousal and anxiety, which leads to a decrease in sleep quantity and quality. What constitutes distraction differs from person to person. In general, smart alarm clocks that allow access to notifications, including email and social media, should be avoided. Likewise, projection alarm clocks that display the time on your wall or ceiling will be unhelpful for most people, particularly those prone to clock-watching and insomnia.

Display

From a sleep health perspective, the best alarm clock is one that you can't see when you should be sleeping. It's important to keep the light down in your sleep environment, and clock-watching tends to promote anxiety. Look for alarm clocks that have displays that dim or shut off overnight. For those that remain visible, seek out models with orange or red light.

Reliability

You need an alarm clock that's reliable so you can count on it to help you keep to a consistent wake-up time and you don't lose sleep wondering if it'll work. Look for alarm clocks offering some sort of battery back-up (sometimes described as a "back-up alarm") so that you'll wake up when you need to, even if there's a power outage in your area. Alternatively, some alarm clocks will weather overnight outages by syncing with an app to remember your alarm once power is restored.

Wake Up Methods

Alarm clocks employ a variety of methods to wake you up. Sound is the classic method, but you can also buy an alarm clock that wakes you up with light or vibration or a combination of the three. So which is best? "These are likely all effective but which one may be effective for a given individual will probably vary based upon that individual," says Dr. Auckley.

  • Sound: Most alarm clocks on the market alert you to wake with sound. The nature of that sound is highly variable. You can find alarm clocks that employ blaring rings, the radio, your own music, soothing natural soundscapes, and other curated tones. While you'll come across a lot of marketing claims regarding optimal sound, our experts said that sleep science has yet to point in any one direction. Dr. Dawson recommends that you "tailor any sort of sound component to what's actually useful for you." For example, those who are sleep-deprived may need a stronger alarm sound, while lighter sleepers may do fine with gentler tones.
  • Light: Some alarm clocks can wake you using light. You'll find options with lights that simply turn on or flash, but you'll also find those that turn on gradually, mimicking a sunrise. For those who opt for a dawn simulator, Dr. Dawson recommends one with a wide range of color adjustments so that it can get appropriately dim. Look for indications that the light color is able to change from red to orange to yellow.
  • Vibration: Some alarm clock apps use haptics in your smartwatch to rouse you, but you can also buy separate alarm clocks that use vibration. For these devices, vibration is usually delivered via a disc you can place under your pillow, sheets, or mattress. Some of these discs are wireless, but most are not. You'll want to consider whether you move a lot in your sleep to guide whether you should select one that includes a clip to stay put at night.

Wind Down Features

Some alarm clocks include features that help you prepare for sleep. These include tailored audio content, like guided meditation, sleep stories, or relaxing music, and specialized lighting, like a sunset simulation or a reading light with a timed shut-off. Dr. Dawson says, "In general, having something that is a reminder to yourself to do something to wind down is good." However, he notes that relaxation content can backfire. If you're the sort of person who finds guided relaxation content unpleasant, forcing yourself to go through the motions may actually increase anxiety before bed, which is counterproductive to sleep. Instead, he recommends being honest with yourself about what will actually help you fall asleep, rather than what you might wish helped.

What You Can Expect to Pay for a Quality Alarm Clock

For around $15 and a little elbow grease, you can acquire an alarm clock compatible with healthy sleep. For most models at this price point, you'll need to reduce the impact of a too-bright display by physically turning the clock or blocking its front. Expect to pay at least $25 for fully dimmable displays, more than $40 for special wake-up methods like sunrise or vibration, and north of that for smart clocks with baked-in relaxation content. Our top overall pick, Hatch Restore, costs $130 because of it's dawn simulation and variety of special features. But our budget pick KWANWA Battery Operated Alarm Clock is another excellent option that costs a mere $16.

Your Questions, Answered

Is using an alarm clock good or bad for your health?

Using an alarm clock is neither good nor bad for your health. It's better to think of an alarm clock as a neutral tool you can use to help you wake up at the same time every day—a habit that does have profound benefits for your health. Most people will need an alarm clock to do this, and that isn't a reason to be concerned. "It's not bad for your health to have to use an alarm clock to wake yourself up in the morning," Dr. Auckley says.

Is it a good idea to use your smartphone as an alarm clock?

It is not ideal to use your smartphone as an alarm clock. "From a sleep health perspective, we generally would recommend using a separate device," says Dr. Auckley. Using a smartphone as an alarm clock has the potential to negatively impact your sleep in a way that a high-quality alarm clock won't. Smartphones emit blue light, which is best avoided at night because it can suppress melatonin, a hormone that helps control your sleep cycle. They're also stimulating. Checking texts, emails, and social media are all activating behaviors that interfere with winding the body down for sleep. "Getting the phone away from the bedroom is certainly a good thing," says Dr. Auckley.

Who We Are

Emily P.G. Erickson is a Minnesota-based freelance writer specializing in psychology and parenting. Previously a mental health researcher, she holds a master's degree in counseling psychology. During her graduate program, Emily trained as a mental health therapist. Her work with clients included counseling them on healthy routines and sleep hygiene practices to support mental wellness. She personally uses our best overall pick, the Hatch Restore, and her children use an older version of our top alarm clock for kids, the Hatch Rest+ 2nd Gen.

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