The right wakeup light can be a real game-changer, getting your morning off to a better start and improving your mood all day long.
Do you find it difficult to get up in the morning? Are you cranky, craving coffee and generally unproductive for the first hour or two of the day? Then it sounds like you’re in need of a wakeup light, aka a dawn simulator, bodyclock light or natural light alarm clock.
Traditional alarm clocks wake you up with a start; a disorientating experience that can put you in a bad mood that lasts all day. But wakeup lights do so much more pleasantly; by slowly increasing the level of light in your room, thus mimicking the rising of the sun. This allows us to wake in the way our primeval ancestors did, which fits in much better with our biological programming.
The slow build up of light tells your body to reduce the production of sleep hormones such as melatonin and increase wakeful hormones like cortisol. And when this process takes place over time, rather than happening all at once, you wake in a calmer manner, helping you feel refreshed, positive and with more energy for the day ahead.
So how do you choose a wakeup light? In this article, we’ve brought together the very best models available today.
All offer a sunrise simulation, waking you in the morning by gradually filling your room with light. They also offer the converse in the form of a sunset simulation: slowly reducing the level of light from 100 per cent down to zero, in order to help you fall asleep in a soothing and peaceful manner.
And finally there’s an audio element too: you can choose to be woken by the radio, or by the sounds of nature.
For more insight into your sleep, take a look at our guide to the best sleep trackers.
Best wakeup light: at a glance
- Lumie Bodyclock Luxe 750DAB
- Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock HF3520
- Fitfort Alarm Clock Wake Up Light
- Philips Somneo Sleep and Wake-up Light
- YOUXIU Wake Up Light Alarm Clock
If money’s no object, and you’re looking for the wakeup light that has everything, then the Lumie Bodyclock Luxe 750DAB comes pretty darned close indeed.
For a start, it doesn’t just have a radio, it has a DAB radio, so you have a huge variety of stations to choose to wake up to. Alternatively, you could opt for one of a diverse range of 20 prerecorded wakeup sounds, including songbirds, café ambience, fairground sounds, kittens purring, a movie projector, rainfall, tree frogs, white noise and water sounds. You can even play your own music via Bluetooth or USB. All of this sounds great on the high-quality speakers.
If you prefer to wake up with a jolt there’s even a military drill option, which isn’t our idea of fun but might be yours. Or you can just do away with sound altogether, and just let the light wake you up.
That wakeup light, by the way, is both nicely graduated and highly customisable. While the other devices on this list all spend a set 30 minutes waking you, here you can set the duration from between 15 and 90 mins, as well as predetermining the final light intensity. There's also a seven-day alarm option.
It's worth noting that in the sunset simulation at bedtime, this device doesn’t just reverse what it does in the morning; it offers a low-blue light that gradually fades and helps you drop off more naturally. Again, you can set sounds or radio to fall asleep to, and if you have trouble sleeping because of random noises in your environment, you may find the white noise option particularly useful here. (Also check our guide to the best white noise machines).
A final bonus is that the Lumie Bodyclock Luxe 750DAB is medically-certified as an SAD device. So if you suffer from seasonal affective disorder, you can use this light all day long to help lift your mood, not just when you’re in bed. In conclusion, while this is the most expensive wakeup light on this list, it’s also demonstrably the best.
If don’t want to spend a huge amount of money on a wakeup light, then this device covers all the basics admirably at a very reasonable price.
It wakes you up in the morning through an effective colour graduation, turning from red to yellow like the sun does, to help you start your day naturally and in a relaxed state of mind. There’s also a sunset simulation that does the reverse at the end of the day.
There are 20 intensities to choose from, up to 300 lux, so you can customise its operation to suit your level of light sensitivity. You also have the choice of five wakeup sounds or FM radio.
Philips is a name to be trusted when it comes to lighting tech, and its Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock is a reliable, quality product. But beyond that, the main selling point is the ‘Intuitive Dimming Display’, which means the brightness of the light adjusts itself to suit the brightness of the room. So if you wake up on a particularly sunny morning, the brightness increases accordingly; if it’s a dark and cloudy day, it dims in proportion.
On the whole, this device lacks some of the fine control and advanced features offered by the Lumie Bodyclock Luxe 750DAB. But given that it’s around half the price, you may see those as compromises well worth making.
Short on funds? Don't worry, it’s possible to buy a very decent wakeup light for a very small amount of money; and here’s our top pick.
Despite being so cheap, the Fitfort Alarm Clock Wake Up Light offers good quality sunrise and sunset simulations to help you wake up and fall asleep more calmly and naturally. As for audio, you can choose between six different alarm sounds or FM radio, and you can touch anywhere on the clock to turn off the alarm whilst keeping the light on.
The time display offers three different settings: light, dim and off, which is handy if you like to sleep in a pitch-black room. And as well as a wakeup light, you can also use this device during the day as a mood lamp, with six different colours, and 11 levels of brightness to choose from.
There aren’t a lot of features beyond that, plus the quality of sound isn’t great, and the buttons are a little small and fiddly. But in general the Fitfort Alarm Clock Wake Up Light does a good job at pulling off the basics, at a mere fraction of the price of many others.
If you suffer from insomnia, you want a wakeup light that also does a good job of putting you to sleep in the first place. For these purposes, we’d recommend the Philips Somneo Sleep and Wake-up Light.
The key feature here is something that Philips is calling ‘Relax Breath’. Inspired by common breathing and relaxation exercises, this light-guided function is designed to help you decompress from the day’s activities and unwind. Put simply, you follow one of seven breathing patterns, which are signalled through either light intensity or sound on the device. Do this while keeping your eyes closed, and this should encourage you to drop off more naturally and effectively.
Beyond that interesting little gimmick, this device offers pretty much everything you’d expect from a wakeup light; as you’d expect given the relatively high price. So you get good sunrise and sunset simulations; 25 different, self adjusting brightness settings; and light colours varying from white, orange, yellow and amber. Audio wise, there are eight sound modes to choose from or FM radio. There’s also a USB charger for your phone on the device, and you can set two different alarm times, for example for weekdays and weekends.
On the whole this is a very decent, high end wakeup light. It doesn't have the high level of customisation offered by our number one pick, the Lumie Bodyclock Luxe; nor DAB or Bluetooth, but all of that is fairly reflected in the cheaper price.
With most wakeup lights, you get the option of engaging two senses: sight and hearing. This one brings a third into the picture: smell. Just add a few drops of essential oil to the included diffuser to reduce stress and create a warm and comfortable environment for your room.
Let’s be clear: said diffuser doesn’t actually come on with the alarm itself: you have to manually press a button to start it. However, its mere inclusion in such a low-cost model is a nice touch, especially considering this device serves as a good wakeup light on the whole. The sunrise and sunset simulations are decent, and come with six optional sounds: namely piano, twitter, waves, violin, croak and beep, as well as an FM radio. (The audio quality isn’t amazing, to be fair, but it's not bad considering the price.)
Plus as well as a wakeup light, the YOUXIU Alarm Clock can act as a reading lamp, mood lamp or a general table lamp, with an impressive eight colours and 10 levels of brightness to choose from. All in all, this multi-use device could represent something of a bargain, depending on your needs.
- Check out our guide to the best fitness trackers