It's common knowledge that sunlight is not only pleasant but also quite good for you health-wise. We've become more aware as a society that our bodies actually rely on cues from the setting and rising sun to regulate our sleep cycle, so it's only natural that the popularity of wake-up light alarms is on the rise. The use of a wake-up light is helpful for boosting cortisol and melatonin levels, and is often a treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder, particularly in the shorter days of the winter months. So whether you're trying to become a morning person or feel like you could benefit from some light therapy, a natural light alarm clock is a great way to change up your mornings.

Wake-up lights are slowly replacing the traditional alarm clocks that wake you up to an annoying, blaring noise - at which point most of us roll over and postpone getting up, using that handy snooze button. Although wake-up lights usually have the same snooze and radio capabilities as traditional alarm clocks, their main draw is the way they emit a sunlight-like light (called "dawn simulation") that fills the room as if the sun is rising. Over the span of about 30 minutes, the wake-up light gets brighter and brighter, waking you up slowly instead of all at once. Then at the time you've set for the audible alarm, a selected sound will ring out, just to make sure you do, y'know, get out of bed.

How We Picked The Best Natural Light Alarms

The light alarms we picked do everything a standard alarm clock would do, while of course doing a fantastic job of brightening the room to wake you up gradually. Both of our picks are well-reviewed, a good size for a bedside table, and sit sturdily so you won't have to worry about knocking them over. Both devices also offer a variety of customizable features to make your morning experience the most personalized it could be - with changing colors, options for soothing wake-up sounds, and adjustable clock display brightness. These alarms can double as bedside reading lights and additionally work as sunset simulators for those who sometimes have just as much trouble falling asleep as they do waking up.

girl waking up to natural light

Overall Best Wake-Up Light Alarm

Philips Wake-up Light HF3520/60 ($111.99 USD)

With a sleek, modern design and a colorful red-orange-yellow sunrise simulation to mimic the rising sun, this light alarm is clinically proven to wake you up in the most natural, energizing way possible. This device gradually increases exposure to light over the course of 30 minutes, until the room fills with a bright, yellow light imitating natural sunlight. Choose between 5 gentle sounds for the alarm to wake you up to - including soft piano, birds singing, and ocean sounds - and 4 different brightness settings, and you're in for the perfect customizable wake-up experience to start your day off right. This model also includes an FM radio, a 9-minute tap-anywhere-to-snooze feature, and a built-in sensor that dims the time display when the room is bright and brightens the display when the room goes dark. You can even set this wake-up light to do a reverse, setting sun simulation for you to fall asleep to, complete with soothing sounds. Backed by a 90-day money back guarantee and a 2-year workmanship warranty, this alarm also includes a bulb meant to last the product's lifetime, which means you don't have to worry about ever replacing it.

philips wake up light

Best Budget Wake-Up Light Alarm

SMARTRO Wake Up Light ($29.99 USD)

Worth the most bang for your buck, this sunlight simulating wake-up light features 6 natural sounds and an FM radio, making it perfect for customizing to your mornings. With adjustable volume, adjustable brightness of clock display, and six different colors to choose from for a decorative lighting experience, this alarm is perfect for both adults and kids. The snooze button on this device is a little less generous, only giving you an extra 5 minutes at a time, but the design is ergonomic and a good size for bedside tables. The SMARTRO is powered by USB and adapter (included), with an internal battery that preserves the time display while it's unplugged. For a sunset experience as you're going to bed, note that this light dims over the course of 60 minutes, rather than the standard 30. This inexpensive wake-up light has everything you need to get you through even the toughest mornings - it's loud, bright, and strict on the snooze button.

smartro wake up light

Tips For Choosing

  • Consider how much room you have available on your bedside table and check the dimensions of your wake-up light before buying, as light alarm models do tend to be bigger than traditional alarm clocks.
  • To save space on your nightstand, buy a wake-up light alarm that doubles as a reading light, particularly if you've been meaning to get rid of that old lamp.
  • Depending on your lifestyle, it may be a good idea to think about portability if you find yourself traveling frequently, especially between time zones.
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