Best Wake-Up Lights – Top Picks and Buyer’s Guide

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Quick Summary

‘Wake-up lights’ are alarm clocks that use light, rather than noises, to awaken sleepers. Because the circadian rhythm controlling our sleep cycles corresponds to natural light and darkness, the light method is fairly effective for most; the method is particularly popular with sleepers who find waking up to an alarm unpleasant. Most wake-up lights mimic natural sunrise by gradually becoming brighter until the preset wake-up time. The lights are usually yellow and/or white, but some models offer a wider light color selection.

Like standard alarm clocks, wake-up lights also come with adjustable volume, snooze functions, and multiple preset options. Some offer AM/FM radio as well. In most cases, the light timer is also adjustable; this enables owners to program the light for up to half an hour or longer before waking. Many wake-up lights are backed by both sleep trials and warranties. The average model costs about $40 to $50, but products range anywhere from less than $20 to more than $150.

Read on to learn more about wake-up lights in terms of product selection, functions, and other buying factors. Below you’ll find our picks for the best wake-up lights sold today. Our choices are based on verified customer and owner reviews, as well as intensive product research and analysis.

Best Wake-Up Lights

Editor’s Pick – totobay Sunrise Alarm Clock

Best Wake-Up Light + Night Light – Casper Glow

Best Value Wake-Up Light – Electrohome Retro Alarm Clock

Best Luxury Wake-Up Light – Philips Wake-Up Light

Best Wake-Up Light Features – Lyght Wake-Up Light

How We Decided

 

36 wake-up lights considered –– 75 hours of research –– 3 sleep experts consulted

Best Wake-Up Lights – Tuck's Top 5 Picks

totobay Sunrise Alarm Clock – Editor's Pick

Highlights
  • 7 wake-up light colors
  • FM radio and 6 wake-up sounds
  • Sunrise/sunset simulation
  • Easy-to-read LED display
  • One-touch controls

Our Editor’s Pick for best wake-up light is once again the Sunrise Alarm Clock from totobay, a product that integrates most of the helpful features and functions included with competing models. These include seven light colors – white, green, red, blue, purple, orange, and indigo – to provide incredibly realistic sunrise and sunset simulations. The clock is designed to gradually increase light intensity over the span of 30 minutes, from 10% to 100%. It will automatically turn off in the evenings.

The clock also has six built-in sounds, such as birds, waves, and light beeping for those who prefer falling asleep to ambient noise. FM radio with scan and preset options is also included. The Sunrise Alarm Clock has an LED-powered display that is easy to read even in total darkness. It can be powered and charged with a wall cord, USB, or batteries. Price-points vary by seller, but the totobay Sunrise Alarm Clock is widely available for less than $30.

Good for:

  • Sleepers with varying light color preferences
  • Those who like falling asleep to ambient noise/music
  • Value seekers

Casper Glow – Best Wake-Up Light + Night Light

Highlights
  • Twist to adjust light
  • Functions as night light or silent alarm
  • Connects to Glow app
  • Comes with a 30-day trial
  • Six-month limited warranty

If you’re looking for a light to soothe you to sleep and ease you into the morning, we recommend the Casper Glow. At bedtime, the Glow sends out warm light, helping you wind down in the evening. There’s no need to press or click anything; as time passes, the Casper Glow dims more and more, letting you go right to sleep without experiencing any interruptions. When morning arrives, the Glow fills the room with a gentle light, aiding your body’s natural circadian-based rhythm and encouraging you to wake up. It’s a great replacement for noisy alarms.

In addition to a perfect sleep hygiene tool, the Glow can be twisted to adjust the amount of light to your comfort level. To use Casper’s Glow, just connect the it to the related Glow app, which works with both Android and iPhone devices. It comes with a 30-day trial and six-month limited warranty.

Good for:

  • Those who want to use a silent, non-jarring alarm clock
  • Improving your nightly sleep routine
  • Using as an alternative to a flashlight

Electrohome Retro Alarm Clock – Best Value Wake-Up Light

Highlights
  • White wake-up light
  • Temperature and calendar functions
  • AM/FM radio with 20 presets
  • Sensor-activated light and snooze
  • 1-year warranty

For one more year, our Best Value pick is the Retro Alarm Clock from Electrohome, which is widely sold for less than $20 – but it offers similar features and functions as many of its higher-priced competitors. The clock is fashioned after classic bedside alarms and includes snooze, sleep, and nap timers, along with AM/FM radio playback and up to 20 station presets. The clock utilizes two white bulbs for the wake-up light. A battery back-up also preserves the clock’s settings in the event of a power outage.

The Retro Alarm Clock has some advanced features, as well, including sensor-activated lighting and snooze functions. The clock’s LED interface also displays indoor temperature settings and a full calendar. Those who do not like waking up to alarm sounds can opt for a vibrating alarm. A dual alarm option is also available for couples. Electrohome backs the Retro Alarm Clock with a one-year warranty.

Good for:

  • Sleepers who prefer white wake-up light
  • Those who like falling asleep to music/ambient noise
  • Couples

Philips Wake-Up Light – Best Luxury Wake-Up Light

Highlights
  • Multicolored sunrise and 20 brightness settings
  • FM radio and 5 wake-up sounds
  • One-touch snooze controls
  • 8-hour battery back-up
  • 90-night trial and 2-year warranty

We’re pleased to announce that for one more year, our top luxury pick is the Philips Wake-Up Light HF3520, an advanced alarm that offers a colorful, UV-free sunrise simulation and 20 brightness settings (up to 200 lux) to accommodate users with different preferences. The light alarm can be programmed to gradually increase in intensity between 20 and 40 minutes before the owner wakes up. The display automatically dims when the bedroom is dark; sounds automatically reduce in volume, as well. The clock also offers five wake-up sounds, FM radio, and a one-touch snooze alarm.

The Wake-Up Light is equipped with a back-up battery that preserves all settings for up to eight hours in the event of a power outage. The light is cool to the touch, making it suitable for children’s bedrooms. The average price-point for this wake-up light is about $140, making it a good pick for shoppers with bigger budgets. Philips backs the product with a 90-night sleep trial and a two-year warranty, both of which are longer than average.

Good for:

  • Sleepers with varying light color preferences
  • Those who like falling asleep to ambient noise/music
  • Children and adults

Lyght Wake-Up Light – Best Wake-Up Light Features

Highlights
  • 7 wake-up light colors
  • FM radio and 8 wake-up sounds
  • 10 brightness settings
  • 90-minute dimming timer
  • USB charging port

The Lyght Wake-Up Light – once more our pick for Best Wake-Up Light Features – is a standout for several reasons. For one, the alarm is highly customizable; owners can program the gradual sunrise for 15- or 30-minute intervals, and also set the automatic dimming for up to 90 minutes. The Wake-Up Light offers seven colors: white, yellow, orange, green, red, blue, and pink. The product also provides FM radio playback with up to 20 station presets.

In addition to the wake-up light, this product features eight ambient wake-up sounds, including birds, ocean waves, and thunder. Smart-touch keys, a USB charging port for mobile devices, and an audio jack are built into the light, as well. Widely available for less than $30, the Lyght Wake-Up Light’s price-point is considered well below average.

Good for:

  • Sleepers with varying light color preferences
  • Those who like falling asleep to ambient noise/music
  • Children and adults

Best Wake-Up Lights Buyer's Guide

Not everyone wants to begin the day with a noisy alarm clock ringing in their ears. There are all sorts of alternatives emerging on the market, and one popular option is a “wake-up light.” A wake-up light is a type of alarm clock that uses light rather than sound to stimulate sleepers to wake.

These light-based alarm systems work with our body’s natural wake-sleep or circadian rhythm, making it easier to drift off to sleep and then wake with ease in the morning. Please read on to learn more about Tuck’s top picks for wake-up lights, how wake-up lights work, and important considerations for buying them.

Why Use Wake-Up Lights?

Today, more and more sleepers are moving away from traditional alarm clocks. For many years the market supported loud, jarring sounds as the only way to wake you up on time. However, these loud noises can feel more disruptive to one’s natural sleep cycle than helpful. There are a few sound reasons to consider a wake-up light as an alternative to traditional alarm clocks.

Light affects your circadian rhythm: There are multiple cues on which your body relies to signal its sleep and waking rhythms. One of them is light. At one time, early man only functioned when natural light was available, and then slept once the sun went down. Thanks to artificial light sources, modern humans can function well into the night, often at the expense of our circadian rhythms.

By using a wake-up light to drift off to sleep and wake in the morning, you’re doing the work of resetting your body to respond to light as a cue that it’s time to go to bed or time to wake up.

Wake-up lights aren’t disruptive or jarring: You want to start off your day feeling well-rested and prepared. A loud noise will make you feel startled and disoriented. But wake-up lights seamlessly ease you into a conscious state.

Some lights are multi-functional: In addition to functioning as an alarm, some wake-up lights can be used as reading lights, nightlights, or even as a substitute flashlight.

It’s a simple way to improve sleep hygiene: Developing proper sleep hygiene, or good habits and behaviors you use to prepare for bed, is fundamental for getting a good night’s sleep. By setting up and using a wake-up light every day, you also work in an important nighttime habit that will let you get the right amount of sleep each night.

How Do Wake-Up Lights Work?

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:

  • Multiple light color options: Some wake-up lights allow owners to change the color of the light, but most offer one option (usually white or yellow).
  • Different alarms: Like traditional alarm clocks, some wake-up lights come equipped with multiple alarm options, including ambient sounds. Some models, however, only have one.
  • Adjustable volume: The volume of the alarm may be adjustable or set, depending on the model.
  • Snooze option: Most wake-up lights have a snooze option for people who wish to sleep a few minutes longer, but some do not offer this feature.
  • Radio: Some wake-up lights offer FM radio channels, but very few feature AM and FM options.
  • Sunset settings: In addition to sunrise settings, some wake-up lights will become dimmer as darkness falls to help owners fall asleep more easily.

Important Considerations for Wake-Up Light Shoppers

Here are a few variables to keep in mind when shopping for a new wake-up light and comparing different brands and models.

  • What is your wake-up light budget? High-end wake-up lights may cost up to $100, but low-budget models typically cost $20 to $40.
  • Does the clock feature adjustable brightness and/or color settings? Wake-up lights that only have one brightness and color setting may be somewhat limiting for sleepers with varying preferences, or preferences that differ from that model’s options.
  • Does the wake-up light have a back-up alarm? Most — but not all — wake-up lights come with an audible alarm. Most sleepers are urged to use a wake-up light with an alarm in case the gradual light doesn’t consistently wake them up in the morning.
  • Are the alarms and alarm volume adjustable? Volume and sound adjustment is important to some sleepers, so you should research the product’s settings to make sure it will be effective for you.
  • Does the wake-up light offer a snooze option? Using the snooze alarm is generally not recommended, but some sleepers prefer to hit the snooze at least once in the morning — and some wake-up lights do not come with this feature.
  • Is the wake-up light compatible with AM/FM radio? Most wake-up lights do not offer AM radio, but some allow owners to listen to FM stations.
  • Does the light have a ‘sunset’ setting? Sunset settings can be helpful for people who have a hard time falling asleep, but this feature is somewhat rare.
  • How long is the product’s sleep trial? Like mattresses and other sleep products, some wake-up lights come with ‘sleep trials’ that allow purchasers to test out the device for a certain length of time and then return it for a refund if they are not satisfied. However, other models do not offer any sort of sleep trial.
  • Does the wake-up light come with a warranty? Warranty coverage is especially important for models with non-replaceable bulbs. Most wake-up light warranties span two years or less, but some do not come with any sort of warranty.

Additional Tuck Resources

If you’d like to read more about this and related topics, please visit the links below to read articles on similar topics: