All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through any of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Waking up to a sounding alarm sound can be shocking, especially if you have to do it in pitch darkness. That’s why some people have turned to devices that mimic the arrival of daylight as a gentler way to wake up from sleep. So-called sunrise or wake-up clocks typically start with low light, then gradually light up until they reach full brightness to match your body’s circadian rhythms. If you’re having a particularly hard time waking up, you probably still need an alarm, but the sunrise light should at least make it easier for you.
There are several products on the market that have this characteristic; some are alarm clocks, some are smart displays, while others are just programmable lights. Some only have sunrise functions, while others also have sunset functions (where the lights gradually dim and darken), which might help you fall asleep in the first place. .
Sunrise and alarm clocks
Philips SmartSleep smart sleep and wake-up light
Philips sells a variety of sunrise alarm clocks, and the one with the most bells and whistles is the SmartSleep connected sleep and wake light. You can use a companion app to schedule your sunrise and sunset times and set different alarms for different days of the week. You can also do it manually, but the app makes it a lot easier. You can use the app to record your sleeping and waking hours. The SmartSleep also offers multiple alarm sounds, customizable sunrise themes, and a red-tinted light setting that’s more calming than the default white light.
Plus, you will find special sunset features that can help you relax before bed. The light can be set to gradually fade over time, and it is accompanied by cues of relaxation such as breathing exercises and soothing sounds, like rain and ocean waves. As an added bonus, the SmartSleep HF3670 also has sensors for humidity, light and noise levels, and the app will tell you if you need to adjust them for ideal sleeping conditions.
For a cheaper, more streamlined option, consider Philips HF3520 $ 100 wake-up light. It lacks WiFi capabilities, so there’s no companion app and it doesn’t have the additional relaxation settings of the SmartSleep, but it still includes that red-tinted light setting, as well as similar lift functionality. and sunset and a decent range of alarm sounds.
If falling asleep is just as difficult as waking up, if not harder, you may want to consider Hatch restoration, which brings a bunch of sleep-friendly features. It has Bluetooth and WiFi, which you can use to connect to a companion app. This app in turn allows you to customize your sunrise and sunset routines as well as set different alarms for different days. On top of that, Hatch Restore offers several color lighting options ranging from warm white to peach and raspberry.
True to its name, the catering has various slowing down features that might help you fall asleep more easily. It has over 31 sleep sounds to block out unwanted noise, as well as a library of over 50 meditations and eight sleep stories. The caveat here is that meditations and stories are not free. Hatch will offer owners a free trial of the full library for six months, but it costs $ 5 per month or $ 50 per year thereafter. That said, if you wanted an all-in-one machine to help you with your sleep and wake issues, the hatch restoration might be worth a look.
Smart display clocks
Lenovo Smart Clock
Almost all smart displays have some sort of sunrise alarm function, especially those that are designed to sit on your bedside table. The Lenovo Smart Clock is one of our favorites, although it lacks a lot of the usual smart display features like the ability to play videos. That’s because it’s adorable, won’t take up much space, and it’s affordable, to boot. Plus, it comes with eight different clock faces, six alarm tones and you can click the top of it to snooze or turn off the alarm. When activated, the sunrise alarm will gradually illuminate the display for 30 minutes before the set time.
Since it’s a Google-powered device, it also works with all of the usual Google Assistant features like a five-day weather forecast or your next appointments. It shows reminders of future events and offers to set alarms so you don’t miss them. You can use it to view your Google photos and it works with other smart home devices you own, like Philips Hue lights or a Nest Hello video doorbell.
Google Nest Hub
As mentioned, the Lenovo Smart Clock is really more of a clock than a smart display. If you want more than a typical smart display, the Google Nest Hub is a much better bet. It has all the features of the Lenovo Smart Clock and more. The screen is crisp and colorful, making it ideal for viewing photos and watching videos. The onscreen controls are also much more intuitive, with shortcuts to your smart home devices and your favorite YouTube videos.
The sunrise alarm on the Nest Hub is also more customizable. You can make the screen gradually brighten just like the smart clock, but you can also have it so that a soothing “pre-alarm” sound goes off when the sunrise alarm starts. . If you have smart lights installed, you can also make them gradually brighten. Finally, you can set the sunrise alarm window from five to 30 minutes.
Amazon Echo Show 5
If you are using other Amazon products such as Ring cameras or Alexa-powered microwaves, the Echo Show 5 might be a better choice. The screen is bright and colorful, has a sleek, sleek design, and it can display photos just like the Nest Hub. It can also play videos from sources like Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, and it has a built-in browser for surfing the web. Unlike the Nest Hub, the Echo Show 5 has a camera, which can be confusing if you don’t want a camera by your bedside. At the same time, this means that the Echo Show 5 is capable of making video calls, which the Nest Hub is not.
The Echo Show 5 works well as an alarm clock, with multiple clock faces and the ability to touch the top of it to snooze. There is also a sunrise alarm function, which slowly brightens the display 15 minutes before the set time. Unfortunately, the sunrise feature on the Echo Show is a bit more limited than its rivals, as it only works when the alarm is set between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m. But if it works for you and you’re an Alexa fan, the Echo Show 5 is worth considering.
Other smart lighting choices
The Casper glow is a unique light fixture that can be programmed through a companion app to light up at specific times just like a clock at sunrise except, well, there’s no clock at all. In addition, there are no speakers, so it also cannot make alarm sounds. Instead, it’s really more of a portable smart light. It can also be used as a late night reading light before bed. (It will gradually decrease over 30 minutes.)
Still, the Glow has several innovative features that set it apart. The Glow is very portable and can be easily held with one hand. To activate or deactivate it, just flip it. You can turn it clockwise or counterclockwise to adjust its brightness. At night, you can lift it up, shake it, and it will emit a soft glow bright enough to guide you through a dark hallway. If you have two Casper Glow lights, you can sync them to turn them on or off at the same time. And, since it works with rechargeable batteries, you can use it as an emergency light in the event of a power failure.
Glow is probably not a good choice if you need more than just bright light to wake you up. But if you already have an existing alarm clock or just prefer to use your phone for the alarm, the Glow could be a nice addition to your nightstand.
Philips Hue smart lights
Programmable smart lights like the Philips Hue bulbs are another way to help you sleep and wake up a little easier. Plus, some white and colored mood lights offer color temperatures that mimic natural light, helping you sleep more naturally. You can then set up routines in the companion app that will slowly turn the lights on in the morning or gradually turn them off at night. Of course, Philips Hue lamps can also be used in other lighting scenarios; you can turn them on automatically at night or when you are away from home. Plus, Hue bulbs are compatible with almost all smart assistants, so turning the lights on or off is as easy as telling Google, Alexa, or Siri to do so.