Morning alarm clocks can be, well, alarming. If you're tired of being jolted awake by the obnoxious alarms on your phone or smart speaker, then switching to a different option could help. Specifically, picking up one of the best sunrise alarm clocks can make a world of difference.
A sunrise alarm clock is designed specifically to create more peaceful mornings and wake-up routines. My mornings have never been better since I got rid of my regular alarm clock and started using a sunrise. They work by emitting a light, as opposed to an anxiety-inducing sound, creating the illusion that you're waking up to sun peeking through your window. They can also help with your mental health in winter, when sun exposure is limited and seasonal affective disorder takes hold.
Jamie Gold, a wellness design consultant and author, told CNET she came across these types of noise-optional alarm clocks when researching noise pollution.
"Our lives and homes are filled with noise, and this creates the potential for insomnia, anxiety and stress," Gold says. "I love the idea of these silent alarm clocks for tying in with our natural circadian rhythms and helping start our days on a calmer note. Some heavy sleepers may need a stronger wake-up system, but if you're not one of them, it's definitely a solution worth considering."
Creating or redoing bedrooms in ways that reduce noise pollution and enhance sleep is a crucial component of wellness design, the practice of designing a space to promote physical and emotional health, she added.
I personally feel like I've had a better night's sleep since using a sunrise alarm clock. I am also happier when I wake up and feel as if my days have been more productive. Exposure to artificial light in the mornings can improve cognitive performance throughout the day, according to a small study in the journal Behavioral Brain Research, so my reaction may not be all placebo effect.
These few picks are our favorites and would make a great gift for anyone who needs less noise and more light in their life. Take a close look at the features each of these clocks offer -- a sleep timer, snooze functionality; some can even be used as a reading light. Once you fight your perfect sunrise simulation clock, you'll be enjoying deep sleep and better mornings. This list is updated periodically.
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Philips has a range of helpful sleep products, from antisnoring aids to complete sleep apnea treatment to sunrise simulation alarm clocks. Not one, but two, experts recommended the Philips SmartSleep Wake Up Light to me: Maggie Berghoff, functional nurse practitioner, recommends this product to her patients who need help waking up before the actual sunrise each day.
"This will artificially stimulate sunrise in your bedroom, to properly help set your circadian rhythm, the biological clock of your body, despite needing to wake up when it's still dark outside," Berghoff says. "This is very important for maintaining morning and daytime energy, sleep quality at night and metabolic health."
It's also helpful if you don't want to rely on loud alarm sounds to wake up, Berghoff says, and desire a very gentle and natural wake-up in the morning.
Dr. Erica Matluck, a naturopathic doctor, tells CNET that she likes the SmartSleep Wake Up Light because it offers multiple settings, including sunrise and sunset brightness settings, a light therapy lamp, and natural sounds to sleep and wake up to. "In my practice, I recommend these types of alarm clocks for various reasons and often people's needs and preferences change over time," she says. "Having a variety of settings allows the product to remain relevant to the patient even as their needs evolve."
This is the sunrise simulation alarm clock that changed my mornings for the better (way, way better). It's a relatively high-end pick, but it's worth it. With the Lumie Bodyclock Shine 300, I can adjust the colored sunrise simulation setting from 15 to 90 minutes and choose from 15 high-quality wake-up sounds at the designated alarm time -- I'm a fan of the wave and blackbird sounds.
You can adjust the brightness settings on the sunrise simulator so that the final intensity is perfect for you: not so dim that you don't wake up, but not so bright that you're squinting. You can also set daily or weekly recurring alarms, and it has a tap-control snooze button (although I haven't had to use that yet, even though I used to press the snooze function on my phone every morning).
In addition to all of those sunrise features, you can use the Lumie to fall asleep, too. It doubles as a white noise machine, and the clock lets you set a sunset simulation too -- first set the light at the desired intensity, then press the sunset button, and relax as the light slowly dims. I use the sunset simulation whenever I feel like I'm going to have trouble falling asleep. So far, it seems to have helped every time.
If you're not quite ready to shell out $100 or more on a sunrise alarm clock, this budget-friendly sunrise simulation clock from Jall should do the trick. It has all of the basics and makes for a rather customizable sunrise: Choose from seven colors and 20 brightness levels to end your sunrise, as well as seven natural sounds to accompany the light. You can also choose to wake up to FM radio.
The Jall Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock functions as a night light and bedside lamp, too, and you can adjust the brightness level for both. It doesn't have a sunset function like some others on this list, nor does it double as a white noise machine -- but if you only want the sunrise function, that doesn't matter.
The majority of reviewers on Amazon love this clock: It has 4.3 stars and nearly 100% of the reviews are favorable. It seems that most people who bought this clock were looking for a less abrupt way to wake up, and the Jall Wake Up Light did the trick for them. Buyers also love that it's easy to set up and simple enough for kids to operate on their own.
The Lumie Bodyclock Rise 100 is a simpler version of the Lumie Shine 300. It's a high-quality intro-level sunrise simulator alarm clock for people who are looking for just the basics: The Lumie Rise 100 features a 30-minute sunrise with the option to set the final light intensity. You can also program a sunset to help you fall asleep.
The Lumie Rise 100 does not have nature or ambient sounds to add to your sunrise and sunset, although you can program the optional beeping alarm to start when your sunrise reaches maximum light intensity. Like the Lumie Shine 300, the Lumie Rise 100 has a tap-control snooze feature and an auto-dimming display.
If you have a bedside lamp already, you can make a DIY sunrise alarm clock by replacing regular light bulbs with smart light bulbs from Lifx. These Wi-Fi-enabled bulbs connect to Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana and Apple HomeKit, and you can program them to dim and brighten like a sunrise and sunset as you fall asleep and wake up, respectively.
You won't get any sound, obviously, but if you're a relatively light sleeper who wakes up to changing light, these programmable light bulbs will still get you up in the morning. You can also combine with Lifx light panels and strips in fun colors for the coolest faux-sunrise ever.
And if you want a broader selection (not just sunrise clocks), check out our separate list of the best alarm clocks for 2022. And if you need a good night's sleep, check out the best mattresses you can buy online and the best pillows too.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.
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