Waking up to a loud beeping alarm clock can be a bit too harsh for some people. If you are someone who wants to smash their alarm clock to pieces on a regular basis, you may want to try out a wake up light also known as a dawn/sunrise simulator. These are lights that promise a gentler more pleasant beginning to your day. The way they work is about half an hour before you want to wake up the light gradually increases in your room in the same way a sunrise would, most people wake up from the light, but if you don’t, a gentle beep will start when it is time for you to get up. By waking up in this way many people have found that they wake up in a much more pleasant mood, and feel much more refreshed and energized- especially during the dark winter months.
In order to help you find the best dawn simulator light for your needs, we have rounded up the most popular and best reviewed products on the market and have broken down exactly what you need to know.
In this buying guide you will find:
- Our top picks
- Why use a sunrise simulator
- Features to look for
- Reviews and recommendations
Best Wake Up Light (Overall)
Best SAD Light Therapy Sunrise Simulator Light
|New and Notable|
|Products||Philips HF3520 Wake-Up Light With Colored Sunrise Simulation||Philips HF3500 Wake-Up Light||Nature Bright Sun Bliss||Aura EnergyUP|
|What makes this a great wake up light?|
Why Use a Wake up Light
The main point of these lights is to help people who have to wake up in the dark, wake up in a more natural way by mimicking a sunrise. Results of studies that the company Philips were involved with, indicate that people who use one of the Philips Wake-Up Light find that it helps them wake up more pleasantly and makes it easier to get out of bed. If you are looking for a light to help treat SAD, you can get lights that combine dawn simulators with bright light therapy..
What to Look for:
When you are shopping around for one of these types of lights these are the features and things to keep in mind:
Option to be able to turn the sound off completely: There is a good chance if you are looking to avoid a loud ringer when being woken up, you may be sensitive to sound and don’t want any kind of sound when being woken up. Generally the way these lights work is that the lights will start with the light switching on until it is fully bright and a beep will begin – just to ensure that you are awake. Theoretically, you should be awake and able to turn off the beep before it begins. Most models either have an option to turn the beep off or at least turn the volume to minimum so you cannot hear it.
Color of the light: Because the point of these lights is to mimic a sunrise you can expect the color of the light to be at the very minimum a warm yellow color to the soft dawn reds through warm orange to bright yellow of the higher end models.
Ability to dim the time display: Some clock displays can be quite distracting when trying to fall asleep. If you are someone who is sensitive to any light when trying to get to sleep, ensure the device you get gives you the option to dim the display.
Number of alarm settings: A feature that is common on many regular alarm clocks is the option to have two different alarm settings, one for weekdays and one for the weekend. This isn’t a standard feature on the cheaper sunrise simulator models, so if this is a feature that you need you will have to pay a bit more for that.
Sound choices of the alarm: On lower end models you will usually just have the option of a beeping sound or the radio if you choose to use the alarm sound as well as the light. The higher end models include the option to have things like Bird Song, Birds in the forest, Zen Garden, Gentle piano and Seaside Sounds.
Lux Value: The lux value is the unit of illuminance and luminous emittance, which basically just means the level of brightness. Sunrise simulation lights generally use light sources that range in illuminance from 100 to 300 lux, while the dawn simulation lights that include the bright light therapy are usually around 10,000 lux.
Battery Backup: A fairly important option on any type of alarm clock is having a battery backup option in case your power goes out. Oddly enough, the very popular Phillips models do not include a battery backup.
Powered by battery or electricity: If you are using the product as SAD bright light therapy (in addition to a wake up light), you may want a battery powered device if you are going to be moving it around to different rooms, as it would be slightly more convenient.
Size: Another feature to give some thought to is the size of the light. Some models are fairly large so if you have limited space beside your bed that may be something you need to consider. The very popular Philips Sunrise is 10″ X 10″, which is not small.
Radio: Does it have one, do you need one, and what are users saying about the sound quality of the radio.
Reading light/Sunset simulation: Since some of these alarms take up a good amount of space, you can generally use them as reading lights as you’re getting ready to go to sleep. Some offer the function of a sunset simulation to help you get to sleep.
SAD bright light therapy: The Philips wake up lights offer light therapy but not the full spectrum SAD light therapy. If you are looking for a wake up light to help with SAD, the Nature Bright Sun Bliss or the Aura EnergyUP are much better options.
Price: These lights range in price from around $60 on the low end upwards of about $150. Obviously, the more you pay the more features that are offered. For a less expensive DIY option you can try using existing lamps with holiday light timers, they won’t have the gradual sunrise effect, but for a couple of bucks you can get a similar effect.
Recommendations and Reviews
If you would like to get a wake up light but none of the products listed above meet your needs, here are a few other options that are either on the market or that are being funded through Kickstarter and are in the process of being produced
Wakē alarm – Is a wake up light that uses a targeted wake up system so your partner can sleep in. You can use mobile apps to set it up and run it.
LUMI– Is a wake up light with a sunrise and sunset option. It has 5 sounds to choose from including white noise, rooster call and crashing waves. The display can fade and it also has a battery backup.
Ario– Is a health lamp that you can use as a wake up light in the morning as well as a lamp throughout the day to help increase your energy and relax in the evening.
Napwell – Isn’t a wake up light however it is a napping mask that uses lights to wake you up gently from a nap to help you reduce “sleep inertia,” the feeling of having a headache and grogginess after waking up from a nap.
The Bottom Line
Waking up in the morning can be an unpleasant experience, especially if you are being jolted awake by a super loud ringer. Research seems to show that usinga light instead of sound will wake you up more pleasantly and help give you more energy for your day. There are lots of different options if you want to be woken up by light rather than sound. You can purchase artificial lights that you can program to turn on when you want to wake up, or if you would like a more gradual wakeup you can invest in a wake up light. They don’t work for everyone, some users find that they are unable to wake up by the light alone and need to also have some kind of sound option in addition to the light. Other users have found these lights life changing and swear that they will never go back to waking up using a traditional alarm. People feeling more refreshed and find that it is much easier to get up.