A sunrise alarm clock is a great way to start your daily routine, providing you with a gentler and more natural-feeling wake-up call. “Sunrise alarm clocks use ‘dawn stimulation’ to mimic the experience of being awakened at dawn by the sunrise,” says Natalie Dautovich, Ph.D., environmental fellow at National Sleep Foundation and assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. “The sunrise alarm clocks gradually increase light exposure to cause a gradual awakening, compared to an audible sound.”
We researched and tested the top sunrise alarm clocks on the market, comparing each one based on factors including light and audio settings, design, and ease of setup.
Here are the best sunrise alarm clocks for a brighter morning.
Philips HF3520 Wake-Up Light Therapy Lamp
Sunrise and sunset modes
20 brightness levels
Can be used as a reading lamp
No sleep timer mode for white noise
No wireless connection
Can't be controlled with an app
The Philips SmartSleep Wake-up Light encompasses the best in sunrise alarm clocks. Our home product tester put this option through its functions and found it to be a gentle, natural way to wake up and start the day. With this option, you can program a 30-minute sunrise routine that reaches a full brightness of 300 lux. Our tester was reliably awoken by the rising light levels—but if the light doesn’t wake you, it’s followed by an audible alarm that includes soothing natural wake-up sounds, like birds chirping or ocean waves.
This sunrise alarm clock isn’t just about making your mornings better—it has features focused on sleep, too. It also includes a sunset mode that gradually descends through the light’s 20 brightness levels. One potential drawback that our tester noted was the alarm clock’s lack of a sleep timer for its nature-inspired white noises. With this model, the five included audio options can only be played continuously or used for the alarm function. There’s no Bluetooth or Wi-Fi functionality either, but an auxiliary cable port on the back of the device allows you to connect your phone and play music through the clock’s speaker.
While you can’t adjust the color of the light radiating from the circular face of this clock, it gives off a “soothing warm, almost orange, hue” according to our tester. There’s no app to control or modify this sunrise alarm clock, but the buttons around the top edge of the clock are simple and easy to use, with the exception of the snooze button, which our tester found harder to activate. Overall, this sunrise alarm clock is effective and performs well, without posing a major learning curve.
Price at time of publish: $80
Dimensions: 10 x 6 x 10 inches | Sound Options: 5 | Brightness Levels: 20 | App: No | Ports: Auxiliary | Connectivity: None
hOmeLabs Sunrise Alarm Clock
Dimmable clock display
Sunrise and sunset modes
Nature sounds and FM radio
Can’t adjust length of sunrise cycle
No Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity
If you’re looking to spend less on an alarm clock, the hOmeLabs Sunrise Alarm Clock is a basic option that gives you the functionality that you’d expect from this type of device, along with adjustable display brightness, light color options, and wake-up sounds. The circular design is typical of most sunrise alarm clocks, with an LED face in the center of the device. Buttons on the face of the clock control the most utilized functions, like setting up an alarm or sleep timer. Along the top edge of the clock, you’ll find buttons to adjust a variety of functions, including FM radio, snooze, and display brightness.
This sunrise alarm clock starts to gently rouse you with gradually increasing light for a period of 30 minutes before your scheduled alarm time. It’s worth noting that you can’t shorten or extend this sunrise period. When the “sunrise” is complete, the audible alarm chimes to ensure that you’re fully awake. The alarm can be set to one of 15 nature sounds, or you can use the built-in FM radio. This sunrise alarm clock also features a sunset mode, which gently dims the room during your evening routine.
There’s no Bluetooth or Wi-Fi functionality on this sunrise alarm clock, so don’t expect to use an app to control its features or functions. Still, it offers simple operation at a budget-friendly price.
Price at time of publish: $10
Dimensions: 6.8 x 3.9 x 7.2 inches | Sound Options: 7 | Brightness Levels: 3 | App: No | Ports: None | Connectivity: None
Philips SmartSleep Connected Sleep and Wake-Up Light
Monitors temperature, humidity, noise, and light levels
Flashing light setting for heavy sleepers
Adjustable sunrise settings
USB charging port
Can't stream music wirelessly
Touchscreen buttons can be difficult to use
If you’re serious about your sleep habits and want to go all-in with a full-featured sunrise alarm clock, the Philips HF3670 SmartSleep Wake-Up Light is worth the splurge. This option is equipped with Wi-Fi, and you can customize its settings through the SleepMapper app. What’s more, sensors inside this sunrise alarm clock monitor your sleeping environment for variations in temperature, humidity, noise, and light levels. This data can help you identify triggers for sleep disruptions.
As the top-tier sunrise alarm clock in the Philips family, the HF3670 has the most powerful light intensity at 315 lux. There are 25 variable brightness settings to choose from, along with five color hues. An adjustable sunrise cycle gradually increases the light to wake you from sleep before an audible alarm finishes the task. The default is a 30-minute wake-up routine, but you can adjust the timing to suit your preferences on the device itself. Heavy sleepers will find peace of mind in knowing that this sunrise alarm clock features a PowerWake alarm function, which uses flashing light and increased sound levels to ensure that you don’t oversleep. This sunrise alarm clock will help you drift off to sleep more easily, too. It has a dusk simulation mode, along with a light-guided breathing routine to help you relax and rest more soundly.
The futuristic design of this SmartSleep Wake-Up Light includes a touchscreen display that appears when your hand hovers in front of the clock. At the same time, we read reports that the touchscreen functionality can make it challenging to correctly turn off the alarm when you’re just waking. While a USB charger is available to power up your phone, this clock can't wirelessly stream music through its speaker. It does have an FM tuner and auxiliary port to connect a device, though. Overall, the biggest appeal of this high-end device is the advanced controls available through the app, along with the sleep data it collects.
Price at time of publish: $170
Dimensions: 8.8 x 4.7 x 8.6 inches | Sound Options: 8 | Brightness Levels: 25 | App: Yes | Ports: USB, auxiliary | Connectivity: Wi-Fi
Customizable color, brightness, and audio settings
Morning and evening routines
No backup battery
Some content requires paid subscription
The Hatch Restore is your best bet for a smart sunrise alarm clock, since the easy-to-use app offers plenty of options to customize your morning and evening routines. While some sunrise alarm clocks have no connectivity or a clunky app with poor reviews, the Hatch Restore and its companion sleep app are intuitive and highly rated.
To live up to its name, this sunrise alarm clock aims to wake you more naturally with a gradually brightening light that mimics the sun. Within the app, you can decide what color “sunrise” you prefer, while also adjusting settings for brightness, duration, and audio. A dimmable digital clock display tells you the time at a glance but won’t disrupt your sleeping environment.
Within the app, you have the option to set evening routines for activities such as reading or relaxing. While the app is free, a paid subscription unlocks additional content. Considering that the device itself isn’t the most budget-friendly, some users feel the pinch of being asked to spend more on a yearly subscription for additional white noise options and sleep content. Still, both the device and app are easy to use, making it a smart choice overall.
Price at time of publish: $130
Dimensions: 7.5 x 2.75 x 5.75 inches | Sound Options: Not listed | Brightness Levels: Variable | App: Yes | Ports: None | Connectivity: Bluetooth
Daqi Concept Chirp Alarm Clock and Lamp
Bird and nature sounds
Doesn't require Wi-Fi or Bluetooth
Sunrise cycle isn't adjustable
Expensive for the feature set
Sunrise alarm clocks typically have a familiar form factor, but the Daqi Concept Chirp stands out as unique for its innovative design. A blend of lighting, sculpture, and sound machine, this is likely to be the most beautiful sunrise alarm clock you’ll find. Standing about 8 inches tall, the lamp features a bird-shaped porcelain shade with integrated LED lights. It connects to your smartphone, which you can use to control lighting, alarm, and nature sound functions. The natural marble base features a digital clock display, along with options to control light intensity, play nature sounds, or choose light-only or audio-only alarm settings.
The Chirp gradually wakes you with increasing light for 20 minutes before your scheduled alarm. In keeping with the beautiful, nature-inspired aesthetic of this sunrise alarm clock, you can create a combination of nature and environment noises from a library of 15 different sound options using the DAQIchirp app. There is no sunset mode on this alarm clock, but it does offer a sleep mode that plays ambient audio for 30 or 60 minutes, with the option to have the light on as well. After the sleep mode ends, the Chirp will turn off, but without gradual light dimming like you’ll find with a true sunset mode. To keep your sleeping environment free from technology interference, the Chirp is controlled by audio transmission rather than Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
Price at time of publish: $200
Dimensions: 3.6 x 3.6 x 8.3 inches | Sound Options: 15 | Brightness Levels: 1 | App: Yes | Ports: No | Connectivity: None
Best for Kids
Remote control of settings
Doubles as a night light and sound machine
Bedtime and morning routines
Limited sound library without membership
No backup battery
A sunrise alarm clock can be a fun and effective way to help children get their days started right. Featuring practical features for parents and customizable colors, the second-generation Hatch Rest is our top recommendation for a kids' sunrise alarm clock. This version of the Hatch Rest is Wi-Fi equipped, allowing caretakers to adjust the light settings from anywhere. (The first-generation Hatch Rest was only Bluetooth-enabled, and many parents found that they had to be in very close proximity to the device in order to adjust the settings.)
The time-to-rise feature of the Hatch Rest is one of the most popular reasons to buy this sunrise alarm clock for kids. Within the app, parents can choose a wake-up time, along with a combination of colors and sounds, to signal to little ones that it’s time to start the day. A time-to-sleep mode is also available for a soft signal that it’s time to wind down.
Night light and sound machine options can also set the right mood for your baby or child’s sleep environment. A paid Hatch Sleep membership is available, which provides access to expert-curated music, bedtime stories, and more audio sounds. However, the membership is not necessary to take advantage of the most popular features of this children’s sunrise alarm clock.
Price at time of publish: $70
Dimensions: 4 x 4 x 6.25 inches | Sound Options: 11 | Brightness Levels: Variable | App: Yes | Ports: None | Connectivity: Wi-Fi
Best Audio Options
iHome iZBT3W Sleep Therapy Machine
Plays white noise and streams music
Easy to set alarms and use functions
USB charging port
No sunset mode
Limited alarm sounds
While a gentler way to wake is the biggest appeal of a sunrise alarm clock, it doesn’t hurt to choose a version with excellent audio options as well. The iHome Sleep Therapy Machine is the one to pick if you want a sunrise alarm clock that includes white noise options and the ability to play music via Bluetooth. All of the features are readily accessible using push buttons on the top of the unit, eliminating the need to use a smartphone or app to control this sunrise alarm clock. However, when paired with your smartphone using Bluetooth, you can use the built-in speaker to belt out your favorite tunes from your music library or streaming services. Plus, a USB charging port can keep your device powered up.
The ambient noise selections range from soothing environmental sounds to white noise tones. It’s been favorably compared to dedicated white noise machines, but it also gives you the capability to wake up to gradually increasing light over a fixed 20-minute period. You can use the sunrise alarm clock feature alone or in conjunction with a separate audio alarm feature. Take note that not all of the white noise audio options are available for use as an alarm, which may frustrate some users. This ovular sunrise alarm clock has a stable base that is unlikely to roll away or tip over when you reach over to push the snooze button.
Price at time of publish: $60
Dimensions: 7.01 x 3.07 x 4.77 inches | Sound Options: 15 | Brightness Levels: 1 | App: No | Ports: USB | Connectivity: Bluetooth
Casper Glow Light
Can control most functions through gestures
Functions as a portable night light
Set morning and evening light routines in the app
No clock display
No audio features
The Casper Glow has unique features that make it a worthy option for a sunrise alarm clock. You’ll appreciate how intuitive it feels to use this one. Flip the Glow over to turn the light on or off. A gyroscope within the light is the key to adjusting the brightness; simply spin the light to raise or lower light intensity. You can even lift the light off its charging base and wiggle it to activate a dim night light in the middle of the night—and you can take it with you if you need to move around in the dark and don’t want to startle your eyes with bright lighting.
When it comes to your wind-down routine, this light has features that make it a handy companion. Read or relax with a warm 2700K light from the Glow, greatly reducing exposure to blue light that might interfere with sleep patterns. You can also set a nighttime routine that gradually dims the light until it fades to dark, giving you an easy transition to drift off to sleep.
While the light functions are largely controlled with touch gestures, you’ll use the Casper app to set a wake-up routine on the Glow. When morning arrives, the light gradually intensifies until reaching full brightness over a period of 30 minutes. You can’t modify this wake-up cycle, but you can specify how long the light stays on after reaching maximum brightness. The Glow offers fewer clock functions than other options and lacks audio capabilities altogether, but its other innovative features make it an excellent choice.
Price at time of publish: $116
Dimensions: 3.75 x 3.75 x 5.25 inches | Sound Options: None | Brightness Levels: Variable | App: Yes | Ports: No | Connectivity: Bluetooth
JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock
Sunrise routine is very customizable
Optional audio alarm for heavy sleepers
Limited audio options
No weekend alarm setting
The JALL Wake Up Light strikes the balance between features and affordability. This sunrise alarm clock is the one to pick if you’re looking for value, since it offers 20 brightness levels and an adjustable sunrise routine that lasts as long as 30 minutes or as short as 10 minutes. It also includes an FM radio function and seven LED light colors for reading or ambiance. A basic fall-asleep mode gives you the option to unwind to one of three audio options or the FM radio while the light gradually dims to dark. It can be set for up to 120 minutes.
The adjustable brightness levels of this sunrise alarm clock have made it a popular pick for kids or heavy sleepers. You also can set an audio alarm to ensure you wake from a deep sleep. However, it should be noted that the JALL Wake Up Light only has seven built-in nature sounds, which is more limited than what many other sunrise alarm clocks offer. Still, this option let you customize your morning routine while costing significantly less than some of the other popular sunrise alarm clocks on the market. All in all, it’s a good value if you want an affordable version that isn’t bare-bones.
Price at time of publish: $40
Dimensions: 7.2 x 3.5 x 7.2 inches | Sound Options: 7 | Brightness Levels: 20 | App: No | Ports: USB | Connectivity: None
Our top pick is the Philips Smart Sleep Wake-Up Light, which our tester found effective and easy to use. It offers adjustable brightness levels and audio alarm options as a backup to ensure that you're awake on time. If you want to spend less, the hOmeLabs Sunrise Alarm Clock is a budget-friendly version that still offers a sunrise wake-up routine and a library of white noise sounds, plus a built-in FM radio.
What to Look for in a Sunrise Alarm Clock
Sunrise alarm clocks typically offer adjustable brightness levels. There may be just a few brightness settings or upwards of 20. Some manufacturers will also include the maximum brightness for clocks, measured in lux. Some of the brightest sunrise alarm clocks on the market reach more than 300 lux.
You should also consider whether you prefer for your sunrise alarm clock to have an adjustable color hue, a common but not universal lighting option. This is a great feature if you prefer warm lighting for a more relaxing bedroom. Models equipped with adjustable color hue also often allow you to choose from pre-set LED color options for ambient light or to use as a reading or night light.
While a gradually brightening light is a calm, soothing way to wake up, some people rely on audible cues that it's time to start the day. Most sunrise alarm clocks include a library of sounds to choose from for an audio alarm, though the exact number will depend on the individual model. Since creating a gentle sleep environment is usually a top priority for buyers of a sunrise alarm clock, many of these products also offer a white noise mode that lets you play sound collections as you drift off to sleep.
The function of your sunrise alarm clock can be enhanced with extra features, like a companion app, white noise options, or a "sunset" wind-down routine. App control of the sunrise alarm clock is an especially popular feature, since you can more easily set and customize alarm settings. The ability to use the clock as a reading lamp or to set the scene for your evening routine is also possible on many models, especially those that let you adjust color hues or brightness levels.
One additional feature that you may want to consider is a USB charging port for your phone. That can be especially helpful in bedrooms with limited outlets. If you're looking for a way to play music with your alarm clock's speakers, opt for one with Bluetooth capability for streaming music from your phone, or one with a built-in FM radio that doesn't require with other devices.
Like any alarm clock, a sunrise alarm clock requires a power source for reliable operation. Most versions plug into a standard electrical outlet. If you're concerned about power outages, consider a model with a backup battery so you never miss your wake-up call.
What is a sunrise alarm clock?
A sunrise alarm clock uses a light that gradually brightens to wake you from sleep. It mimics the rising of the sun and helps you to wake up more naturally. While the sunrise-to-wake function is typically silent, most alarm clocks of this type also are equipped with an audible alarm function.
What are the benefits of a sunrise alarm clock?
A sunrise alarm clock may have an upside for both your sleep and waking routine. Natalie Dautovich, Ph.D., environmental fellow at the National Sleep Foundation and assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, explains the benefits this way: "Since we are particularly sensitive to the effects of light upon awakening, exposure to light at this time can be beneficial for increasing alertness and daytime performance. Additionally, when relying on a sunrise alarm clock, users may be more likely to avoid cell phone use in the bed, which can cause unwanted wakefulness during the night."
Do sunrise alarm clocks help with seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) occurs in response to shorter daylight hours. Hormones like cortisol and melatonin are impacted by reduced levels of light. Sunrise alarm clocks use light to activate your body's natural wake response and may reduce stress-induced spikes in cortisol. However, it's challenging to definitively say whether a sunrise alarm clock will reduce SAD symptoms. Full-spectrum light is necessary for effective light therapy, and not all sunrise alarm clocks disclose precise details about the spectrum and color of light from the device.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Erica Puisis, a freelance writer with expertise in researching and testing the latest in home products and appliances. To find the best options for sunrise alarm clocks, she researched the most popular models based on light and audio settings, as well as additional features like companion apps, Bluetooth connectivity, and charging capabilities. In addition, she factored in real-world testing insights gathered by The Spruce team.
Puisis also interviewed Natalie Dautovich, Ph.D., environmental fellow at National Sleep Foundation and assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. Dautovich provided context around the science behind sunrise alarm clocks and how they may benefit your morning routine.