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For many sleepers, wake-up light alarms are a more pleasant alternative to blaring alarm clocks. Wake-up lights mimic the sunrise by gradually brightening prior to the set alarm time. By the time a sleeper is supposed to wake up, his or her room will be partially or fully illuminated; this helps them feel more wakeful and well-rested, since our internal circadian rhythm aligns with natural light and darkness cycles. Some also produce light beeps for heavy sleepers who need audible stimuli in addition to bright light. Wake-up lights are widely available, and most are priced below $50; high-end models usually cost $80 to $100.
This guide will explore the functionality of wake-up lights, some advantages and disadvantages of using them, variables to consider for first-time buyers, and our picks for the best wake-up lights sold today.
Our bodies operate on an internal clock that controls the circadian rhythm. During dark periods, the brain releases more melatonin, a hormone that makes us feel tired. This is why most adults feel sleepy at night and more alert in the morning. Circadian rhythm also explains why people tend to feel more tired during the winter and fall, when daylight is less prominent.
Traditional alarm clocks may be effective for many sleepers, but the harsh, loud beeping associated with most models can make waking up more of a chore. Sleepers are more likely to hit their snooze button or sleep in if the alarm goes off but they still feel tired. By simulating natural light, wake-up light alarms help sleepers feel more alert when they awaken. Most clocks will produce light roughly 30 minutes before the audio alarm goes off.
Wake-up lights sold today may have up to 20 brightness different settings, though most have between three and 10. Light brightness is measured in ‘lux’ units. Most wake-up lights offer settings of at least 200 to 230 lux, which is comparable to a low-lit office. Some models provide up to 10,000 lux, which is comparable to outside light on a bright day.
Other features and functions of some wake-up light alarms include the following:
Here are a few variables to keep in mind when shopping for a new wake-up light and comparing different brands and models.
Now, let’s look at the top-rated wake-up lights according to people who use them. The following wake-up lights have earned the highest customer and owner satisfaction ratings among models with at least 100 verifiable reviews. To learn about purchasing, click the links in the second-to-last row of the table.
|Model||Retro Alarm Clock||HF3500||HF3505||HF3520||Wake Up Light|
|Brightening Timer||30 min. Before alarm||30 min. Before alarm||30 min. Before alarm||30 min. Before alarm||30 min. Before alarm|
|Radio Options||FM only||No radio||FM only||FM only||FM only|
|Sleep Trial||30 nights||90 nights||90 nights||90 nights||30 nights|
|Warranty Length||1 year||2 years||2 years||2 years||None|
|Tuck Customer Satisfaction Rating||74% (492 customer reviews)||77% (1,637 customer reviews)||80% (388 customer reviews)||82% (4,029 customer reviews)||73% (198 customer reviews)|