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

Written by Keith Cushner

Quick Overview

‘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

The Best Wake-Up Lights – Reviewed

Best OverallHatch Restore

Best Overall – Hatch Restore

Highlights

  • Selection of 22 light colors
  • Sunrise simulation
  • Customizable sleep and wakeup sounds
  • Wind down and wellness content
  • Amazon/Alexa compatible
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Best OverallHatch Restore

hatch.co

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The Hatch Restore has several unique features to help soothe you to sleep and gently wake you in the morning. Sleepers can choose from several sounds and 22 light colors to fit their bedtime and morning routines. The device also simulates a sunrise designed to decrease stress first thing in the morning. Sleepers can choose from a variety of sunrise color options, including Morning in Prague and Malibu Sunrise.

Using the device’s free companion app, you can fully customize your sleep routine,  including reading, wind-down, and bedtime. Those with an Amazon Echo/Alexa can control the Restore from there as well. Several presets are available on the app to use as a nightlight, mood light, or reading light. Hatch also offers a paid subscription service with additional wellness content including a larger selection of sleep sounds, sleep meditations, and sleep stories.

Hatch includes a 6-month free trial to the premium subscription service with the purchase of the Hatch Restore. The device is backed by a 60-night sleep trial and a 1-year warranty.

Good for:

  • Those who own an Amazon smart hub
  • Sleepers who prefer falling asleep to ambient noise
  • People with varying light color preferences

Best ValueLyght Wake-Up Light

Best Value – Lyght Wake-Up Light

Highlights

  • 7 wake-up light colors
  • FM radio and 8 wake-up sounds
  • 10 brightness settings
  • 90-minute dimming timer
  • USB charging port
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Best ValueLyght Wake-Up Light

amazon.com

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The Lyght Wake-Up Light 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 FeaturesCasper Glow

Best Features – Casper Glow

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
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Best FeaturesCasper Glow

casper.com

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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

Best for KidsHatch Rest+

Best for Kids – Hatch Rest+

Highlights

  • Includes 10 light color presets
  • Selection of eight sleep sounds
  • Three classic lullaby options
  • Customizable through a companion app
  • Amazon Echo/Alexa device compatible
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Best for KidsHatch Rest+

hatch.co

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The Hatch Rest+ is designed with a range of children in mind. The device is excellent for soothing babies and toddlers as they fall asleep, and teaching elementary school children to wake up on time. Parents can customize their child’s preferred sleep sounds and light settings from the companion smartphone app or an Amazon Echo/Alexa. They can also set up sleep programs to help their kids during bedtime, naptime, and waking time.

Parents can choose from a variety of sleep sounds, including nature sounds and white noise. The device’s sound library also features three classic lullabies for children who prefer to be lulled to sleep with a song. The light library has 10 different presets to choose from and a color wheel to pick the perfect nightlight or wake-up light color. If your child prefers a completely dark room when sleeping, the light and clock display are fully dimmable.

Thanks to the backup battery, the Hatch Rest+ should last up to eight hours without a charge. Hatch offers a 60-night sleep trial and a 1-year warranty for the device.

Good for:

  • Elementary school students
  • Those who prefer to fall asleep with a nightlight
  • Babies and toddlers

Best CustomizablePhilips Wake-Up Light

Best Customizable – Philips 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
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Best CustomizablePhilips Wake-Up Light

amazon.com

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The Philips Wake-Up Light is 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

Buying Guide – How to Shop for a Wake-Up Light

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 You Should Use a Wake-Up Light

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.
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