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13 best sunrise alarm clocks to wake you up naturally in 2024

From affordable finds to tech-heavy devices, we’ve tried and tested the best light-up gadgets

Siobhan Grogan
Wednesday 03 April 2024 10:38 BST
We tried different designs for all budgets
We tried different designs for all budgets (The Independent)
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Dark mornings make it difficult to get out of bed each day. To make your morning routine a little easier, we’d recommend opting for the best sunrise alarm clocks. They light up slowly, mimicking a sunrise, so your body can wake up naturally and start producing the mood-improving hormone serotonin rather than the sleep hormone, melatonin. So as well as easing you into the day, you should wake in a better mood and have more energy.

Light-up alarm clocks have other benefits too. It’s thought around two million people in the UK suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and waking up to a simulated sunrise rather than a dark morning can make it easier to face the day ahead. Some of the clocks we tested can even be used at other times to provide an ongoing boost when it’s gloomy outside.

The clever clocks are also better for our health overall. Research by the National Institute of Industrial Health shows that being woken suddenly contributes to a higher blood pressure and heart rate compared to those who wake up in their own time, as a sunrise alarm clock will allow you to do each morning.

The sunrise function works similarly in all the clocks we tested, so it’s worth looking at extra features before deciding which one is the best suited to your needs. Some also mimic the sunset which can be useful if you struggle to sleep at night, while others have a radio or audible alarm which might suit those who are particularly heavy sleepers. All will wake you slowly and calmly on even the darkest day so you won’t need to dread winter mornings any longer.

How we tested the best sunrise alarm clocks

A selection of the best sunrise alarm clocks that we tested
A selection of the best sunrise alarm clocks that we tested (Siobhan Grogan)

We ditched our usual alarm clock and tested each one of these in turn next to our bed over a month-long period. For each, we judged how easy it was to set up and programme, if there were any other useful functions and if it really did wake us gently from a deep sleep. All were tested on dark winter mornings when we were finding it particularly difficult to drag ourselves out of bed. We also considered how good (or otherwise) the clock or light looked on our bedside table and if we’d happily keep it there long-term. 

The best sunrise alarm clocks for 2024 are:

  • Best sunrise alarm clock overall – Beurer WL50 wake up to daylight table lamp: £79.97, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best budget sunrise alarm clock – Suright wake up light sunrise alarm clock: £22.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best for SAD sufferers – Lumie zest SAD and wake-up light: £130.45, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best affordable Lumie sunrise alarm clock – Lumie sunrise alarm clock: £49.99, Boots.com

Beurer WL50 wake up to daylight table lamp

Beurer WL50 wake up to daylight table lamp.png
  • Best: Sunrise alarm clock overall
  • Audible alarm: Yes – three different sounds plus radio
  • Radio: FM radio
  • Sunset function: Yes
  • Why we love it
    • Design features Bluetooth speaker
    • Can be charged and used wirelessly
    • Two different alarm settings
  • Take note
    • Wireless battery lasts around three hours

This Beurer lamp is one of the neatest sunrise alarm clocks we tested. It looks more like a speaker than a clock, with the time on a small screen at the bottom rather than a bigger one in the centre. It has pretty much everything else you could possibly need next to your bed too. There’s an FM radio and it also functions as a Bluetooth speaker, which we thought was a nifty touch. It has LED mood lighting and can be charged and used wirelessly – though beware that runtime is only around three hours on a full charge, so it won’t get you through the night.

This clock is a particularly good choice if there are two people needing to wake up at different times, as it has two distinct and very useful alarm settings. We also liked the wake-up melodies, especially the bird song. Using this never felt like too much of a harsh wake-up call, although we never failed to wake using just the light anyway, despite the fact it was slightly (pleasantly) softer than some we tested. We loved the fact we could play the sound of waves during the sunset too and really felt like we slept a lot deeper and more easily afterwards. A great bedside buy overall.

  1. £79 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Suright wake up light sunrise alarm clock

suright-alarm-indybest-review.jpg
  • Best: Budget sunrise alarm clock
  • Audible alarm : Yes – 10 different sounds plus radio
  • Radio: FM radio
  • Sunset function: Yes
  • Why we love it
    • Design features a USB port for charging your phone
    • Dual alarm for two people
  • Take note
    • UK adaptor not included

There’s almost nothing this clock can’t do, except make your morning cuppa. It has an FM radio, a digital clock, a USB port for charging your phone and a dual alarm so it can be used by two people – or set for different times during the weekend and at weekends.

It can be snoozed five times for nine minutes each time and can also be used as a night light if you’d rather not sleep in complete darkness. The sunrise can gradually brighten for up to two hours before you need to be up so there’s no need to wake suddenly and have to leap out of bed.

It’s extremely bright when it reaches its maximum setting and it woke our tester even when they were facing away from it, making it handy for deep sleepers. Our only complaint is that the clock doesn’t come with a UK adaptor so you’ll need to add your own to the USB cable if you want to plug it in.

  1. £22 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Philips wake up light

Philips wake up light.png
  • Best: Philips sunrise alarm clock
  • Audible alarm: Yes – two bird songs plus radio
  • Radio: Yes
  • Sunset function: No
  • Why we love it
    • East set-up
    • Very bright light that would be difficult to sleep through

After using this light for just a couple of days, we realised we’d stopped using our bedside light entirely, so it’s a great choice if space is tight. Circular in shape and with the time displayed in the centre, it’s one of the best-looking clocks we tested and has 10 light intensities, which we found more than bright enough to read by.

It’s also one of the easiest clocks to use. We could work out how to set the alarm and use the radio without even glancing at the instructions and then simply had to tap the top to start snooze mode. The clock cycles through 20 brightness settings over 30 minutes, to wake you up, but there are also two bird songs, if you think you’ll need an additional alarm. The light is very bright, though, so you’d need to be in a very deep sleep to doze through it at full beam. Our only gripe is that we would’ve loved a sunset mode to help us get to sleep at night too but, otherwise, this will transform your mornings.

  1. £72 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Groov-e light curve wake-up light alarm clock with radio

Groov-e light curve wake-up light alarm clock with radio.png
  • Best: For mood lighting
  • Audible alarm: Yes – eight alarm sounds
  • Radio: FM radio
  • Sunset function: Yes
  • Why we love it
    • Packed with features
    • Eight alarm sounds to choose from
    • Seven colour settings
  • Take note
    • Fairly large

For the price, this light-up clock from Groov-e is packed with features. It has an FM radio, a digital clock, a snooze setting and three alarm functions – it can wake you up with the light only, the light and an audible alarm or just the alarm. There are eight alarm sounds to choose from and, when the light’s set, you just need to choose whether you want the ‘sun’ to rise over 10, 20 or 30 minutes. Half an hour was way too long for us, as we tended to wake fairly soon after the light started but we loved the fact there was an additional audible alarm for days we were worried about sleeping through the light.

We especially liked the fact it has seven colour settings, so the clock could be used as a mood light for the rest of the day. A dimmer function means it’s easy to get the right light for the moment and it would work well as a nightlight for children. Our only complaint is that it was fairly large on our bedside table but, otherwise, this is proof there’s no need to blow the budget to find a decent sunrise clock.

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Philips gradient signe floor lamp

Philips gradient signe floor lamp.png
  • Best: Bright sunrise alarm clock
  • Audible alarm: No
  • Radio: No
  • Sunset function: Yes
  • Why we love it
    • Can be controlled through Alexa, Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant
  • Take note
    • Might not work well with more traditional décor
    • Syncing to films and music require additional kit

There’s no clock on this floor lamp but it was still one of the best lights for waking us up when placed close to our bed. When switched off, it looks like a thin pole, which might not work well with more traditional décor, but we loved the fact we didn’t need to find room on our bedside table. A smaller table lamp version is also available, which would take up hardly any space either.

Obviously, the design means there are no extra functions, so it’s not one for you if you want a radio, clock face or speaker. But the wake-up light setting is top-notch. It can be set via Bluetooth through the app – which we set up and connected in seconds – and can also be controlled through Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit or Google Assistant. You simply choose between a light fading to bright or (our favourite) a full coloured sunrise effect, which blends the colours of the sun together along the whole length of the lamp using gradient technology.

As it’s larger than a traditional clock, the light is much brighter, which we found helped to wake us far more effectively. In fact, after two days of trying it, we were confident enough to ditch our backup phone alarm and rely on the light only. We loved using it throughout the day too, setting endless different colours and even a softly flickering candlelight effect. It can also sync to films and music but, disappointingly, this requires an extra pricey bit of kit.

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Lumie bodyclock luxe 750DAB

Lumie bodyclock luxe 750DAB.png
  • Best: Advanced sunrise alarm clock
  • Audible alarm: Yes – 33 sounds
  • Radio: DAB+ radio
  • Sunset function: Yes
  • Why we love it
    • Lots of great functions
    • We woke up feeling less groggy
    • Lights mimic the colours of a real sunrise
  • Take note
    • Expensive
    • Fiddliest to operate

This clock does almost everything except wake you up with a cup of tea. It doubles as a Bluetooth speaker, has a USB port to charge your phone and is the only product we tested with a DAB+ radio rather than an FM one. Easily the most advanced product we tested but also the fiddliest to operate, it’s fairly large, so you’ll need to make sure you have space on your bedside table. We liked the fact the trim comes in different colours – including blossom pink, paprika red and the classy sage green we tested – to match every décor.

As with all Lumie’s light-therapy products, this one is certified by Quiet Mark, an independent programme associated with the UK Noise Abatement Society to prioritise the noise reduction of everyday machines. That said, you don’t need to rely on just the light to wake you up. There are a whopping 33 sounds to wake up or go to sleep with, including a chirping blackbird, a rushing waterfall and even the sound of a ping-pong ball. We definitely didn’t need a noise to wake us up, though, as the light is very bright and mimics the colours of a real sunrise. We definitely felt less groggy every morning too – even our children commented we seemed more awake than usual. If you dread the sound of the alarm each day, it’s worth the splurge.

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Dyson solarcycle morph desk lamp

Dyson solarcycle morph desk lamp.png
  • Best: Designed sunrise alarm clock
  • Audible alarm: No
  • Radio: No
  • Sunset function: Mirrors natural daylight cycle
  • Why we love it
    • Minimal design
    • Tracks local daylight
  • Take note
    • Expensive

Dyson has taken the sunrise clock to a whole new level with this ingenious desk lamp. There’s no audible alarm or radio on this one – there’s not even a clock – but you’ll still be smitten once this is next to your bed. Sleek and silver, it has a minimal look with a 360-degree rotating head and magnetic touch-docking, so it glides into place with a gentle – and oh-so-satisfying – push. It adapts to every need, changing from a focused task light to a soft background light or even one that lights up artwork. It can also be programmed via the easy-to-use app, to turn on when it senses motion or at random intervals throughout the day, as a security measure.

We loved reading next to it in bed, then docking the head to use the stem as an ambient light for watching TV, as well as waking up with it the following morning. We also appreciated the fact there were some controls on the lamp, so we didn’t always have to reach for our phone.

The best bit? It will track local daylight, using a GPS-driven algorithm via the app, and adjust colour, temperature and brightness accordingly every 60 seconds. So, the light perfectly mirrors the cycle of light outside for maximum benefit – turning brighter if it suddenly gets cloudy, for instance. This can also be scheduled to wake you up whenever you need and it never failed to rouse us from even the deepest sleep. It’s definitely the smartest lamp you’ll ever use – but likely the most expensive one too.

  1. £499 from Dyson.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Litalarm sunrise alarm clock

Litalarm sunrise alarm clock.png
  • Best: For teenagers
  • Audible alarm: Yes – eight sounds plus radio
  • Radio: Yes, FM radio
  • Sunset function: Yes
  • Why we love it
    • Light takes between 10 and 60 minutes to get to full brightness
    • Slim design
    • It can charge devices via a USB plug

We’re not saying a sunrise clock will necessarily make your teenager spring out of bed, but it’s got to be better than yelling at them over and over again. Plus, waking up gently with a light gives them a little more time to come round from a deep sleep and our teenage tester said she definitely felt more awake than normal by the time she got out of bed. The light takes between 10 and 60 minutes to get to full brightness, as preferred, which is longer than most other clocks, so perfect for a teen reluctant to wake.

The slim, circular shape is also suitably inoffensive and will suit any bedroom. It has a large digital clock, FM radio and two separate audible alarms with eight sounds, if teens really want to make sure they don’t sleep through the light. Our tester also liked the fact it could charge devices via a USB plug and could display 16 million colour combinations for use during the day. Best of all? Any teen will appreciate the fact the snooze button can be pressed an unlimited number of times, to give an extra nine minutes sleep every time.

  1. £35 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Lumie zest SAD and wake-up light

Lumie zest SAD & wake-up light.png
  • Best: For SAD sufferers
  • Audible alarm: Yes – beeping noise
  • Radio: No
  • Sunset function: No
  • Why we love it
    • Quiet Mark certified
    • Slim and compact design
    • Certified as a medical device to treat SAD

This clock might not be crammed with extra functions but it’s incredibly effective at doing what you need it to - that is, waking you up gently with a light rather than an awful noise. Small, slim and Quiet Mark certified, it’s one of the easiest clocks to find room for on a crowded beside table. It would also be ideal to take away when travelling to combat jet lag.

No need to worry that the light won’t wake you either – this one is seriously bright, with a UV-free, blue-enriched white LED bulb that has five levels. By the time we’d finally opened our eyes, our whole room was bathed in daylight so it felt much easier to hop out of bed than normal. There is an optional alarm beep if you need it (you won’t) but it’s not the most pleasant sound to wake to. There’s also a snooze button but it’s unlikely you’ll ever need it as the light is so bright. Best of all, it’s certified as a medical device to treat SAD so can be used during the day for a blast of much needed daylight – albeit for a hefty price tag.

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CRLL two in one wake up light

CRRL-lamp-indybest-review.jpg
  • Best: For children
  • Audible alarm : Yes – six alarm sounds
  • Radio: No
  • Sunset function: No
  • Why we love it
    • Can be used as a nightlight
    • Easy-to-use touch screen
    • Up to 60 minutes of snoozing

No alarm clock is going to make a teenager jump enthusiastically out of bed each morning, but we reckon this one could at least give them a gentle nudge. Cleverly combining a clock and light in one, it was larger than we expected when we took it out of the box but still has a sleek, unfussy appearance we reckon would work in most bedrooms. The light isn’t just for show either but is more than bright enough to work or read with.

We especially liked the easy-to-use touchscreen panel on the base which made this clock easy to set, snooze and adjust the brightness. Sunrise is quicker than on some other clocks but it changes from dark to full light in the ten minutes before the alarm goes off. It was bright enough to wake us, but we also liked the fact that there were six-alarm sounds to serve as a backup to rouse even the most sound-asleep teen. No doubt they’ll be especially happy to discover the snooze function will work for up to 60 minutes too so they can squeeze in even more precious time under the duvet.

  1. £36 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Lumie sunrise alarm

Lumie-sunrise-alarm-indybest-review.jpg
  • Best: Affordable Lumie sunrise alarm clock
  • Audible alarm: Yes – six sounds
  • Radio: No
  • Sunset function: Yes
  • Why we love it
    • Sunset function
    • Can be used as a bedtime lamp

Lumie is the name to know when it comes to sunrise alarm clocks. Members of the Society for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms, they have specialised in light therapy since 1991 and their expertise means that their products aren’t just for show but often have real benefits for those suffering with SAD. Unfortunately, that means they tend to be suitably pricey, so this sunrise alarm is a real find. There aren’t too many bells and whistles on it but if you want an effective sunrise (and sunset!) function, it’s ideal.

The gradual sunrise starts 30 minutes before the alarm time and there are ten levels before the brightest kicks in. We really liked the mellow quality of this light which eased us gradually from sleep and the final level seemed to really help us get out of bed with a spring in our step.

There are six alarm sounds if you want extra back up and it can also be used for mood lighting with six different colour options for the rest of the day. It can double up as a bedtime lamp too. A great, no-frills buy, then.

  1. £49 from Boots.com
Prices may vary
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Nanoleaf matter essentials lightstrip starter kit

Nanoleaf-alarm-review-indybest.jpg
  • Best: For those without a bedside table
  • Audible alarm: No
  • Radio: No
  • Sunset function: Yes
  • Why we love it
    • Can then be controlled via voice control
    • Easy to install

If you like the idea of waking to sunrise but don’t have a bedside table – or just don’t want a clock on the one you have, this is a nifty alternative. These strip lights can be stuck almost anywhere you fancy and are very easy to get up and running, with a sticky back that presses onto flat surfaces.

They can then be controlled via voice control including Apple Home and Amazon Alexa or using the attached controller or the Nanoleaf App, which we used and found a cinch to set up.

Unlike most of the alarms we tested, there’s no actual clock on these lights and they won’t wake you with the radio or even any noise. Instead, there are 16 million colour combinations and various schedules so the lights will turn on and off to suit at specific times during the day. There’s also a brilliant circadian light setting on the app, which automatically adjusts the strip to the colour of the sun based on your time zone and changes throughout the day, removing blue light in the evening to help you wind down. This really made us feel like we were waking up surrounded by a natural sunrise. A true morning miracle.

  1. £40 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Amazon echo show 5 (3rd generation)

echo-show-5-alarm-indybest-review.jpg
  • Best: For extra functions
  • Audible alarm: Yes – three different sounds plus radio
  • Radio: FM radio
  • Sunset function: Yes
  • Why we love it
    • Can stream podcasts, shows, music and video call
  • Take note
    • Not the brightest alarm clock

If you want a bit more bang for your bedside buck, there’s not much this clever gadget can’t do. Of course, it also functions as an Alexa so you can stream music, shows and podcasts and even use it for video calling, but we especially loved the way it upgraded our morning routine.

Sunrise can be set to start 15 minutes before the alarm and shows warm, orange colours on the screen – however, it’s definitely not the brightest clock we tested so may not be the best choice for particularly heavy sleepers.

The sunrise is just the beginning too. It’s possible to customise a routine to begin the moment your alarm sounds which can include playing certain music, displaying the day’s calendar, reading the upcoming weather or even turning compatible lights on, so you won’t have to go downstairs in the dark. We definitely found the morning easier to face with this next to our bed. In fact, we don’t think we can ever go back to a regular clock.

  1. £89 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Sunrise alarm clock FAQs

Do sunrise alarm clocks work?

To ascertain the effectiveness of sunrise alarm clocks, we consulted Dr Maja Schaedel, co-founder of The Good Sleep Clinic. Schaedel notes that they are a “really nice way to wake up” because “our circadian rhythms, our internal body clocks, depend on daylight to understand what is daytime and nighttime. During the early hours of evening when the sunlight fades, our bodies start to release a hormone called melatonin which signals to the body that it is time to sleep. The level of melatonin continues to increase throughout the night until it starts to tail off in the latter half of the night. When the sunrises in the morning, melatonin is inhibited and our circadian rhythm tells us that it is daytime. This makes waking up generally easier.”

Is it better to wake up to light or sound?

“Sunrise clocks usually enable waking over a longer period of time,” notes Schaedel, “rather than the sound alarm clocks which tend to wake you up within a few seconds. Sometimes people prefer to maximise their time asleep and then be woken up quickly rather than stretching out the waking up period over 10 to 15 minutes as you might with sunrise alarm clocks.”

“If you are a ‘night owl’ and you tend to find it hard to wake up in the mornings, you might find the sunrise alarm clocks don’t quite cut it,” but she recommends experimenting with one. “I have found some patients like using the sunrise clocks at the weekend when they are keen to have a more relaxed waking up experience but still want to get up at a good time and not spend the whole morning sleeping,” she adds.

Are sunrise alarm clocks good for you?

Sunrise alarm clocks help to ease you into the day, by mimicking the sunrise, triggering your body to suppress melatonin and to produce serotonin, so you start the day feeling less groggy. This gentle waking process could lead to you being in a better mood and having greater levels of energy. Being woken with bright light in the morning can also help reset our circadian rhythm, which in turn can improve the quality of our sleep – which plays a role in our overall health.

In terms of further health benefits, research has shown that sudden waking can contribute to higher blood pressure and heart rate compared with those who wake up in their own time. Wake-up alarm clocks also boast mood-boosting benefits that people dealing with SAD may benefit from during the drearier months of the year.

What’s the best sunrise alarm clock?

The best sunrise alarm clock for you will depend on how many functions you need. But through months of testing, we found the Beurer WL50 wake up to daylight table lamp to be a very impressive model. For the best affordable sunrise alarm clock, the Suright wake up light sunrise alarm clock performed well.

The verdict: Sunrise alarm clocks

All of these clocks will wake you up with a light each morning, so you won’t go far wrong with any of them. However, the Beurer WL50 wake up to daylight table lamp is our best buy, thanks to its useful sunset mode, dual alarm and the fact it can be used as a Bluetooth speaker. If you can do without extra help getting to sleep, the Philips wake up light is the easiest clock to use, while we loved the DAB+ radio and USB port on the Lumie bodyclock luxe 750DAB.

We’ve also rounded up the best SAD lamps that will help keep those winter blues at bay

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