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A blaring alarm early in the morning can be quite jarring, whereas sunrise alarm clocks (sometimes called wake-up lamps) simulate a natural and gradual sunrise with a range of soft orange and yellow LED lights for a gentler wake-up experience.
Many wake-up lamps combine light therapy with sound meditation and breathing techniques to create a more calming sleep environment and help regulate circadian rhythms — the natural ebb and flow of hormones that tell us when to go to sleep and when to wake up.
Alex Dimitriu, MD, founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine, told us that the gentle stimulus from sunrise alarm clocks starts getting the body out of deeper sleep stages and closer to wakefulness. "Whether it's a gradual sound or light alarm, wake-up lamps can help better prepare the body to wake up more gently, with less startle," Dimitriu said.
Sunrise alarm clocks have many benefits. They can reduce the effects of sleep inertia, that drowsy, disorienting feeling that many of us experience after abruptly waking up. "Sudden awakenings can lead to sudden changes in cortisol and other neurotransmitters that could cause problems," W. Chris Winter, MD, of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine, said. "Waking up with a gradual increase in wake-promoting light makes a lot of sense," Winter said.
In addition to consulting two experts, I leaned on my own experience in sleep science for this guide. Any new product you bring into your sleep routine should be backed by research. That's why I tested seven sunrise alarm clocks, using each for three consecutive days and nights to evaluate how effective, easy to use, and durable they are.
Learn more about how Insider Reviews tests and researches home products.
Here are the best sunrise alarm clocks in 2022
Best sunrise alarm clock overall: Philips SmartSleep Connected, $199.99 from AmazonThe Philips SmartSleep Connected can help you fall asleep gently and wake up on time with stunning sunset and sunrise simulations. It monitors your sleep environment and makes recommendations to improve it.
Best sunrise alarm clock for personalization: Hatch Restore, $129.99 from AmazonThe Hatch Restore has the most light options and sleep sounds of any model we tried, and they're all fully controlled through its multifunctional Hatch Sleep app.
Best sunrise alarm clock on a budget: iHome Zenergy Dream Mini, $89.91 from AmazonThe iHome Zenergy Dream Mini produces a soft sunrise and will gradually wake you up with your favorite song. For the price, it's packed with a lot of features that will help you wake up in a better mood.
Best portable sunrise alarm clock: Casper Glow Light, $116.10 from CasperThe Casper Glow Light is uniquely designed as a wireless, portable night light and uses intuitive gestures and a streamlined design to create a beautiful and simple experience.
Best sunrise alarm clock without an app: Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light, $149 from AmazonThe Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light has a unique spherical design that creates a beautiful sunrise simulation and features many of the same premium settings as the more expensive Philips SmartSleep Connected.