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An alarm clock can be a game-changer for your daily routine and sleep schedule.
We researched and tested top alarm clocks, evaluating their design, ease of setup, audio and light quality, features, and overall value. Our best overall pick is the Philips SmartSleep Wake-up Light for its many features that help you unwind and wake up peacefully.
Here are the best alarm clocks on the market today.
Best Overall: Philips SmartSleep Wake-up Light
Five natural wake-up sounds
Limited color choices
Who else recommends it? Wirecutter also picked the Philips SmartSleep Wake-up Light.
What do buyers say? 84% of 8,900+ Amazon reviewers rated this 4 stars or above
The Philips HF3520/60 SmartSleep Wake-up Light offers a relaxing way to wind down at night and wake up gently. Its sunrise and sunset lighting features, customization, and minimalist design help this alarm stand out from competitors.
At night, this alarm clock projects a light that emulates the sunset, and in the morning, it will mimic the sunrise. You can customize the brightness with 20 different settings and pair it with five nature-inspired sounds (birds, Buddha, yoga, ocean waves, and Nepal bowls). You can also opt for a radio station and choose the maximum volume. Rather than sounding at the top volume, the alarm gets gradually louder after a minute and a half, allowing you to take your time waking. You can set two alarms at a time and press a nine-minute snooze button for extra rest time. If you're someone who loves to read before bed, this alarm clock can moonlight as a reading lamp.
This alarm's modern rounded shape looks good on any bedside table, while its anti-slip rubber feet help secure it. Despite the alarm clock's versatile design, there aren't an array of colors. It's also pricier than other options. However, our tester rated this alarm clock a perfect 5/5 in all our evaluated categories and praised the peaceful wake-up experience.
Best Design: Loftie Smart Alarm Clock
Constantly updating with new features
Lightweight enough to travel with
Mediocre audio quality
Can't store your own sounds on the device, as the company claims
A newer option on the market, Loftie's smart alarm clock is designed with customization at its core. With the smartphone app, you can remotely change the brightness and volume levels of the alarm clock, along with adjusting your sleep schedule. Our tester was particularly fond of the built-in white noise machine, which features dozens of sounds to lull you to sleep and mask any unpleasant noises. And since it's a Wifi-connected unit, it's constantly updating with new features and sounds from the company.
Best for Kids: Mirari Ok to Wake! Alarm Clock & Night-Light
Simple, easy-to-use design
Has a timer specifically for naps
No Bluetooth capability
Can't change light color
If you have small children, the Mirari OK to Wake! Alarm Clock & Night Light serves multiple purposes. The clock’s face turns green when it’s time to wake up. As a result, kids learn not to get up and disturb the rest of the family if the clock isn’t the correct color. The clock is also useful for nap time, quiet time, and can even be used for other events (for example, letting them know when dinner will be ready, or when it’s time for their favorite TV show).
If green isn’t your kid’s favorite color, don’t worry since the clock also comes with a second interface, which is purple—and surely, they’ll like one of the two color options. In addition to the color indicator, the clock features an audible alarm. Instead of a large, jarring sound, it produces a series of beeps, which kids can turn off themselves by depressing the large feet on the clock. The clock is charged using a USB cable and uses 2 AA batteries for backup.
After using this clock with her kids for two weeks, our tester found it to be super child-friendly and easy to use. She gave it a 5/5 for both ease of setup and included features, but found the quality of the unit to be somewhat lacking—particularly given the price.
Best Smart: Hatch Restore Sound Machine and Smart Light
Expansive sound library
Doubles as a reading light
Need to become a subscriber to access certain features
The Hatch Restore Smart Sleep Assistant is a top option in the smart alarm clock market. It combines smart lights, soothing sounds, and a specialized sleep app to help you fall and stay asleep. While most clocks with nature sounds have five to seven choices, the Hatch Restore Smart Sleep Assistant has an entire sound library with several dozen sounds, including light rain, river creek, and meditative flute. The clock also has 22 light colors to choose from, organized by different palettes like daytime, nighttime, and pastel. The sunrise palette mimics dawn with gradual light exposure that changes from red to orange hues and then to white in the span of 30 minutes.
The Hatch Restore smart light can also serve as a reading lamp, allowing you to remove your regular lamp and save space on your nightstand. You can choose to operate the clock by using touch controls or download the app to use your smartphone. Subscribers to Hatch premium also have unlimited access to such content as meditations and sleep stories. Just note that the clock requires a Wi-Fi connection to operate.
Best Multipurpose: Homedics Recharged Alarm Clock & Sound Machine
Projects time on ceiling or wall
No sunrise option
If you want an alarm clock that does everything, consider the HoMedics Recharged Alarm Clock & Sound Machine. It’s a projection clock, so you can display the time on the ceiling or most convenient wall to see the time while lying flat on your back. The clock also has an indoor temperature sensor, so you’ll know if you need to adjust your home’s thermostat, or grab a jacket before you leave the house. In addition, you’ll never have to wonder where you phone is because it can rest out of the way in the integrated smartphone holder on the back of the clock.
In addition, the HoMedics includes 8 soothing sounds that can be set to turn off in 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 60 minutes, or you can listen to them all night. The sounds include a fan, ocean, rainforest, gentle rain, thunderstorm, white noise, brook, and campfire. You can choose to wake up to these sounds, the digital FM radio, or a regular beeping alarm. There’s also a snooze button in case you want to sleep a little longer. The clock plugs into an outlet and uses battery backup. In addition, there’s a USB port on the back of the clock for charging your smartphone.
Best for Heavy Sleepers: Roxicosly Extra Loud Alarm Clock
USB charger port
Snooze button can be mistaken for other buttons
If you tend to sleep through alarms, consider the Roxicosly Extra Loud Alarm Clock with Bed Shaker. For starters, you can adjust the alarm button until it reaches the extra loud buzzer level. But that’s not all. You can also set two alarms – so if you don’t hear the first one, you’ll hear the second one. But what makes the Roxicosly really good for heavy sleepers is the attached “bed shaker” device that vibrates in your bed. That makes this a good choice for not only heavy sleepers, but also people who are hearing impaired.
You can choose to use either the loud buzzer or bed shaker, or you can use them together. The LED display has large numbers so it is easy to read even when your eyes are barely open or you haven’t put on your glasses yet. But you can dim the screen’s brightness if you find it provides too much light. Other features include a snooze button, AC power with battery backup, and a USB charger port for charging your phone while you sleep.
Best Health and Fitness: Withings Steel HR Hybrid Smartwatch
Ability to track sleep habits
If you wear the Withins Steel HR Hybrid Smartwatch while you sleep, it does more than just wake you up with a gentle vibration. The Steel HR automatically tracks your light and deep sleep cycles, in addition to monitoring how long you sleep—and when your sleep is interrupted. So, by using the Withins app on your smartphone, the smartwatch can tell you, for example, that you went to sleep at 11:49pm and woke up at 7:45am, for a total of 7 hours and 54 minutes. The app can also tell you that from the time you got in the bed to lie down, it took you 8 minutes to fall asleep, and from the time you woke up the next morning, it took you five minutes to actually get up. The app also records your sleeping heart rate.
All of this information is sent to your smartphone to show the specific times you slept lightly, deeply, or were awake. It even provides a sleep score. The Withins Steel HR tracks this data by day, week, and month to help you understand what’s going on when you go to bed, and the watch learns to gently vibrate to wake you at the optimal point in your sleep cycle. The waterproof watch has a rechargeable battery life that lasts for up to 25 days. In addition to having an alarm function and tracking your sleep, it also monitors your awake activities, such as how many steps you take, and how many calories you burn.
Best Compact: Gingko Edge Light Alarm Clock
Variety of colors
Option to use 12 or 24 hour format
Fairly long battery life
One of the coolest-looking alarm clock options is the Gingko Edge Light Alarm Clock. It comes in a variety of colors, including matte black, mint green, smart grey, soft pink, lucky red, and cream white. If you hate alarm clocks and are always tempted to throw one at the wall when it goes off, you’ll be glad to know that you can shake this one to activate the snooze function, and flip it over to turn the alarm completely off. The clock actually has two alarms and it can be used in either 24 or 12 hour formats.
It’s small enough to fit in your hand and operates on a rechargeable battery (and has a USB charging cable). There’s even a screen battery life indicator on the LED screen. One charge lasts 5 to 6 months if you’re only using the alarm clock. A single charge lasts 17.5 hours when the dimmable light is in its brightest mode, and 160 hours when it’s in the darkest light mode. This makes it convenient to also use the clock in your office, or even pack it in your suitcase when traveling.
How We Tested
To find the best picks for you, we send top alarm clocks to our team of testers to evaluate on the basis of design, setup, audio, light, features, and overall value. They used each of their alarm clocks over the course of two weeks to wake up, fall asleep, and relax. We combined their insights with our writer's and editors' independent research to bring you this list.
What to Look for in an Alarm Clock
The key to an alarm clock’s success is its ability to get you up and out of bed. The types of noises produced by a clock can vary widely, and some may be or more less effective for you. Standard buzzer variations are common, but you might also prefer nature noises or the ability to use the radio as a morning wake-up call. Keep your preferences in mind as you search.
Nothing is worse than waking up to a blinking alarm clock that needs to be reset, only to realize that you overslept. If you live in an area prone to power outages, make sure that any alarm clock you buy is equipped with a battery backup. The battery will keep the clock running, even if the power supply is interrupted — which means your alarm will still go off at the set time, saving you stress and frustration.
USB charging is popping up on alarm clocks more and more frequently. This might be a must-have item if you like to keep your phone handy at your bedside but need a convenient power source to charge it. If you don’t opt for an alarm clock with a USB port, keep in mind that your clock will likely be taking over the electrical outlet next to your bed — perhaps requiring you to plug your phone in somewhere farther away.
How do you set an alarm clock?
This depends on the format of your clock. Wind-up alarm clocks generally have knobs on the back to set the time and alarm wake-up time, plus a knob on top or on the back to set or turn off the alarm. Electrical alarm clocks use button technology to set the time and set an alarm. Usually you have to hold one button that says "alarm set" while you press other buttons to set the time of the alarm.
When were alarm clocks invented?
The practice of using an alarm clock has been traced back to Plato in the 4th century BCE, who engineered a whistling water clock to help him wake at 4am. But the first mechanical clocks were a Medieval-era invention that allowed town belfries and churches to ring out the hours for the whole community. In the U.S., the first known personal mechanical alarm clock was invented in 1787 by Levi Hutchins, and by the 1930s or '40s alarm clocks had become a household staple. The evolution of alarm clocks to the present day includes the progression from wind-up alarm clocks to electronic versions, the advent of the snooze button, and of course the move to digital time-keeping that is prevalent in the age of the smartphone.
How did people wake up before alarm clocks?
Early humans slept when it was dark, and woke up with the light. Throughout history, and before personal mechanical alarm clocks became household items in the 20th century, people have woken up with the help of everything from church bells and other religious calls to worship to crowing roosters, factory whistles, household servants, and the dedicated “knocker-uppers” in 19th-century Britain who were hired to go around town knocking on designated windows and doors.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Terri Williams is a professional writer who has tested hundreds of products. She has product review bylines at Tom’s Guide, and both home improvement advice and product review bylines at Realtor.com, Bob Vila, Apartment Therapy, and Heavy.com. To select picks for this article, she consulted dozens of customer reviews and insights from our own testers.