Sick of the “winter blues”, or struggling to sleep in summer all winter? You might be suffering from seasonal affective disorder and using a “wake up light” could quite literally transform your life.
(Before we carry on, and for convenience we wanted to let you know which is our chosen best wake up light – The Lumie Bodyclock active 250).
Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) is something many people suffer from, whether they are aware of it or not.
This s not just fluff either. An article in Medical News Today explains why daylight is so important to help beat depression, by helping to keep serotonin around the brain from. Dr McMahon did a study that showed that the condition is far more widespread the further you are away from the Equator.
What is S.A.D. and what is a sunrise alarm clock?
Ever heard of the winter blues?
Ever wonder why you can feel great on a beautiful sunny morning and struggle to get your head off your pillow on a dark Winter morning?
Surprisingly, a recorded 2 million people are affected by this (however this figure is likely to be far more than that as most people simply shrug it off) when we have the shorter days and dark mornings.
How good do you feel when it’s a glorious warm day outside?
“Wake up, it’s a beautiful morning…” !
Well you just can’t get the same effect on colder Wintry mornings, and it’s all down to the lack of sunlight.
It’s only in recent years where these lights have begun to gain in popularity. You have to try one for yourself to see the difference a wake up lamp can have in your life, especially one that doubles up as an alarm clock and wakes you up as though it’s a glorious long weekend where you’ve had a nice extra sleep.
How do YOU feel when waking up in Winter?
79% of people are less productive or are less energised in winter!
(Source Lumie via Amazon)
So now that our bodies really need “real light” each day to feel upbeat, in a better mood and full of zest, how can we get it on a miserable winters day?
The answer is to use proven light therapy.
You can read up why SAD therapy works here. There now exist a range of standard light therapy devices, but also there are devices that are both light therapy units and alarm clocks.
Once you begin to use these sunrise alarm clocks you begin to notice that you wake up to the light and not to the alarm sound itself – and it is this overwhelming experience that people are falling in love with.
What do others say about their wake up light alarm clocks?
“I am not joking I am the worst for getting up in the morning. Grumpy, emotional, ALWAYS late and always sleeping in. This morning I woke up and it felt like I was in heaven, I was so happy and I had the best morning of my life, I even ironed myself a dress and did my makeup really nice. I know it’s expensive but I use it as a bedside light and as a radio too and it really is something else. Xx” (source: Amazon review)
“I have to say I was skeptical, as with all ‘this’ kind of stuff, but it seriously bloody works. I’d stopped me feeling drowsy or groggy in a morning and for the first time in a very long time, I’m actually feeling awake when I get up.
Since I was about 15-16, I’ve always felt horrible getting up in the morning – the usual… groggy and lethargic, I love my sleep. This has seriously stopped that feeling and has lead to my overall attitude / feelings in a morning to be fresh and alert, it’s great!
The light is seriously bright at level ’20’ (it’s max setting), easily lighting the room. The ‘sunset’ mode is great for going to bed, with it slowly bringing you down into a relaxed state. The other features work perfectly as described with the device being easy and intuitive to use.” (source: Amazon review)
So if you’d like to experience a great wake up each morning why not try your own wake up alarm clock and see for yourself.
Here then is our comprehensive list of the top 10 best sunrise alarm clocks, scrutinized and tested to find out which one is the best. In no particular order.
Just be aware that if you decide to search online yourself at Amazon you will find a host of unknown branded sunrise clocks (names you’ve not heard from before) – it is possible for the manufacturer to make their clocks seem “amazing” by getting a lot of fake reviews.
You need to ensure you look out for “verified purchases”. We have carefully weeded out the ones that are unworthy and are left with what we feel is a solid top 10 list.
|Product||Image||Price||Our Thoughts||10 Warriors Score|
|1: Philips HF3520/01 |
|Excellent product but non replaceable bulb.|
|2: Lumie Bodyclock Active 250|
|Superb all round quality and features!|
|3: Lumie Bodyclock Starter 30||Fantastic unit with basic features|
|4: Bioxo Sunrise Simulation Alarm Clock||Be wary of an array of similar models which may not be quite as good!|
|5: Nature Bright Sun Bliss Alarm Clock||Super high Lux settings to beat winter Blues but no radio or sound effects|
|6: Denver Electronics CRL 310||Basic unit with basic functionality. Poor sound effects.|
|7: Lumie Zest Wake Up LightOur Choice!||Very bright but no radio or sound effects.|
|8: IBoutique 30w SAD Light Bulb||It's a lightbulb that will brighten a room and help banish the Blues!|
|9: Sunrise Systems SRS 320|
|Whopping 10,000 Lux brightness - doctor prescribed levels. lacks a radio but works great as a sunrise clock.|
|10: Lumie Bodyclock Elite 300||High end model from Lumie. Use your own MP3, or radio, or nature sounds. Also has meditation music to help you sleep!|
1: Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock HF3520/01 Coloured Sunrise Simulation – 5 Sounds and Radio Function
“The Philips wake up lamp is one of the best on the market.”
The beauty of top brands means that most of the time you get premium quality and premium reliability. Not always the case (and that’s our job to figure out), however with this unit, it’s a clearly great product.
Features and benefits
- Clinically proven to work, with radio function and 5 natural sounds
- The Wake-up Light eases you into the day by re-creating a natural sunrise
- 7 minutes, battery back-up to keep time and alarm on during short power outages
- Five different natural wake-up sounds for a pleasant wake-up experience
- Sunset function helps you fall asleep by gradually decreasing light and sound
Wake up in the most natural way possible
So if you wasn’t aware, we really like this Philips sunrise clock although it is a touch on the expensive side!
For a start it’s perfectly functional, does all you want it to do and does it very well. Bulbs are cheaply replaced. There is an excellent customer support team behind the unit and you get a 2 year warranty to boot. What’s not to love?
Why are Bodyclock wake-up lights so effective?
Bodyclock Active 250 is a medical device that wakes you up gradually with light that mimics the spectrum changes of a real sunrise.
The brightening light brings you more gently out of sleep, prompting your body to reduce the production of sleep hormones such as melatonin, while increasing the levels of hormones like cortisol that help you get up and go.
This provides a fantastic start to the day for sufferers of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and the winter blues, and helps anyone who is not naturally a morning person to feel brighter and more energetic first thing.
It’s not just a nicer way to wake up. Waking to natural light every day resets your sleep/wake cycle and has been shown to boost your mood, productivity and energy levels throughout the day. Our physiological body clocks are aligned by sunrise and sunset.
As most of us experience a mix of early starts, late nights, weekend lie-ins and sometimes travel disruption, our internal sleep rhythms are thrown into disarray. We feel tired and stressed trying to wake up for work, school or sports training.
A dawn simulator device re-sets your body clock to run in time with your day, helping you feel more awake during the day and more ready for sleep at night.
- 15, 20, 30, 45, 60 or 90-minute sunrise to wake naturally
- 15, 20, 30, 45, 60 or 90-minute sunset to wind down for bed
- FM radio with digital tuning
- White noise setting to mask sounds that might keep you awake
- Dawn chorus or rooster call sounds to enhance your sunrise
- Wave sounds to lull you to sleep
- Sun ray effect
- Dimmable lighting for use as a bedside light
- Nightlight feature
- Snooze feature
- Security option to turn on the light randomly while you’re away
- Back-ups: optional alarm beep, power failure back-up
If you’re looking to get into trying out a wake up light it make sense to choose a trusted manufacturer who know their stuff. Lumie are the inventors of wake up lights and focus on nothing else other than lighting.
This particular wake up light offers a simple 30 minute timer function for the wake up light. There isn’t a radio so if you can make do without one this offers the perfect solution. Lumie quality, Lumie trusted brand and Lumie reliability without any fancy extras.
So is it any good?
Seriously, look at what others have to say:
“I’ll get straight to the point; Just how good is it to wake up to a simulated ‘sunrise’? Really, really good… For myself, it is the equivalent of someone slowly opening the blinds in my bedroom and letting a warm sheen of light enter, which slowly makes me more and more alert to the point that when I do open my eyes, I think to myself “Yikes, did I leave the light on?”. The difference I’ve felt compared to the more startling “BEEP-BEEP… BEEP-BEEP’ almost giving me a heart-attack is ridiculously positive. Its incredible to think that a simple light has stopped me from waking up with persistent yawns and a heavy head.”
“This clock has really changed my mornings! I can now wake up gently but feel good instead of hitting the snooze button 15 times and being late for work and feeling exhausted. Really recommend for anyone suffering from SAD. I didnt find it difficult to set up and I really like the sunset function too. The alarm tone is a bit loud so I use my phone one instead.“
“fantastic really helpful it works like magic. I can’t believe how such a simple idea works so well. Get one.“
THE ABOVE ARE ALL GENUINE, UNEDITED TESTIMONIALS FROM PEOPLE WHO OWN THIS UNIT.
Lumie are clearly good. This unit has all the basic needs, however for an extra £40 approx you can choose the Lumie Bodyclock 250 for radio functionality plus various nature sounds.
4: Bioxo Sunrise Simulation Wake-Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock with Nature Sounds & Mood Light Waking You Gradually, FM radio, White
Side note: This product is sometimes listed under other brands (typically imported models) – at the time of our testing, it was a Bioxo unit, however these appear to be withdrawn at the moment although there are a few “very similar” units that look almost the same on sale. We have kept this in our list but please consider all options before choosing which one you want to go for as we cannot guarantee other similar models will be of a similar standard.
As a wake up light it is fairly good and for many people will wake them up in a better happier mood, however there are a few misgivings with the unit that place it further down in the pecking order.
It’s not going to give you “incredible daylight” however it does provide enough light to stimulate your body to begin waking up.
- 7 alarm sounds including 6 natural sound, such as forests, birds, waves, etc., so you revel in nature’s sounds and smells. 1 FM radio. You can choose your favorite sounds, If you wake up, you do not want to get up, you can open and scan FM radio channels. Enjoy broadcast and relax, ready for the new day
- Bed lamp in white color and multi color. Touch to control the lamp (to change the light brightness or select color)
- LED time display in 12 or 24 hours mode,Bracket can rotate 180 degrees.Can be adjusted by yourself
- Radio alarm clock with battery backup- Do not worry if there’s a power outage during the night. (Battery is not included)
- 5 color & 4 brightness optional, it can serve as a light atmosphere by choosing 5 colors (warning light, green, red, blue and purple) to your preference. Working with 4 brightness setting in the warm light mode to protect your eyes from injury
Priced at around £65.
First of all this is more of a SAD lamp with the added benefit of an alarm clock and sunrise function. We have featured this because it provides the highest most recommended light available (advised by doctors to treat SAD).
All of the other sunrise lamps featured in this list are design masterpieces that look handsome and will sit happily anywhere with their curves and style.
There is no radio, but there is a wake up noise and of course the awakening via the light too.
10,000 Lux is going to provide the brightest possible way to wake up, all through a gradual awakening over a 30 minute period before you set the alarm.
Reset your circadian rhythm with this intense natural light source and enable your body to wake up feeling refreshed, via a mimicked Blue cloudless sky.
Portable and convenient to carry, it’s perfect for travel use as well as home use.
Combining great style with a sunrise function, alarm clock, radio and nature noises it would seem to have all the things you’d want, but take into the fact the nature noises are not great therein lies one of the issues (for some people anyway).
The nature sounds are on a 3 second loop so you hear the same sound over and over and over.
The birds sound nice, but the hot springs sounds more like a squelching drain gurgling away.
The sunrise function works and does wake you up great although the initial brightness is not exactly “low light”, which can sometimes wake you up 30 minutes before your alarm time.
On a positive note, it does look great and it does serve purpose. If you can live with these little misgivings you’d probably be happy as punch that you’d gotten a wake up light so cheap.
Take a look for yourself:
Featuring a whopping 2000 Lux of brightness it delivers sheer wake up potential akin to a dedicated SAD lamp prescribed by a doctor.
Most doctors recommend SAD lamps with 10,000 Lux light output for up to 2 hours a day. Most wake up lights sit around the 100 to 300 Lux output though.
While it doesn’t offer a radio or nature sounds or mood lights, it is technically more of a dedicated “SAD lamp” with an added alarm clock and sunrise feature. In our opinion this is probably more beneficial to people than something with all the fancy extras.
A very hand addition that can only help in your Winter Blues battles.
Of course it’s not designed to wake you up or tell you the time, but to relieve the Winter Blues it’s definitely worth having a few around and keeping one where you work or read the most just to banish the Blues.
Why do we like this?
It offers up to 10,000 Lux – and this is the range recommended by doctors to treat symptoms of SAD.
Look at the main features (taken direct from Amazon):
- Bright up to 10,000 Lux LED light box
- Timer – when using the SRS 320 as a light box, the user can specify how long the light is on from 10 – 90 minutes in 10 minute steps.
- Sunrise: simulates a sunrise over a period of 0 (off), 15, 30, 45, 60, 75 or 90 minutes. Set to suit your preference.
- Sunset: simulates a sunset over a period of 15, 30, 45, 60, 75 or 90 minutes.Set to suit your preference
- Full seven day alarm is provided to allow the user to set different times (if desired) on the alarm for different days of the week. The factory programmed time for all seven days is 07:00am
Here’s what it looks like:
So what’s so good about this?
It’s PACKED with features, and these features give it a clear edge.
For instance, it has an option to act as a random security light, hopefully to deter any would be intruders while you might be away.
Different languages available -English, French, German, Spanish or Swedish.
Let’s weigh up the pros and the cons:
As a dedicated SAD lamp providing SAD beating abilities, it also doubles up as a sunrise alarm clock and the combination of the two makes this incredibly effective, but sadly not the most enigmatic to look at. Brilliantly functional.
10: Lumie Bodyclock ELITE 300 Wake-up Light Alarm Clock with Full Suite of Wake/Sleep Audio Features
As well as sunrise and sunset options, you can also choose guided meditation tracks for help with sleeping, your own mp3 files or the built in am/fm radio. There is of course the usual Lumie “natural sounds included too.
“Bodyclock Elite 300 wakes you up gradually with a simulated sunrise. The brightening light brings you gently out of sleep, prompting your body to suppress the sleep hormone melatonin while increasing hormones like cortisol to help you get up and go. It provides a fantastic start to the day for sufferers of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and helps non-morning people to feel brighter and more energetic”.
Top 10 Best Wake Up Lights – Buying Guide:
How do you make sense of all these lights and to figure out which is best for you? Below we will explain what everything means.
Before we dive in you need to be aware that there are quite a few overseas manufactured units all claiming to be amazing.
They may look nice, but build quality can be dubious, and in addition, the “wake up/sunrise” feature just isn’t up to the mark.
In other words it isn’t powerful enough to”wake you up to a sunrise”
Therefore currently it is our findings that you will have to find the extra money for something good, something proven to work.
- Rugged, tough, reliable and excellent build quality.
- Oh, and something that has a good amount of light output (Lux/Lumens)
Everyone benefits from extra sunshine in their lives, however a lot of people suffer from the morning blues during winter and a smaller number of people go on to suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) where they feel down, tired and depressed all the time.
Adding sunshine is the answer, however depending on how much you need you would opt for a certain type. If you suffer really badly then a specific SAD lamp (and would need to commit to sitting in front of it for 30 minutes a day) would be the obvious answer.
For all other people, who would simply benefit from a bit more light, then a dawn simulation clock is the answer, but with this, some wake up lights are extremely powerful.
Brighter the better
Light is measured in Lumens – how many candle power of brightness can be achieved. Lux is measured by how much light floods a space (typically measured from a short distance away).
- Most SAD lamps offer 10,000 LUX output levels (and this is the typical prescribed levels from doctors) – and would need to be sat in front for 30 minutes each morning soon after waking.
- Sunrise lamps range typically from 100 to 300 Lux output levels with the average being in the region of 250 Lux.
In general the Lumie and Philips models produce the highest levels, but they also come with the price tag. If you do suffer the winter Blues then it pays to get the brightest you can.
You might want to read a study that was conducted on the effectiveness of sunrise lamps, and the results showed overwhelmingly that while 30 minutes does help somewhat, a much better effect was gained over a 2 hour window, so if you can buy a clock that simulates sunrises for longer timeframes the better. The Philips allows for up to 30 minutes while the Lumie allows for up to 90 minutes.
THAT SAID.. bear this in mind:
“More than one million people worldwide use the Philips Wake-up Light, 92 per cent of users found it easier to get up in the morning. Take up the challenge and become a morning person – become more energetic and alert in less than three weeks.”
So any form of decent sunrise light will benefit you and help you to wake up easier and more alert, just get the brightest you can afford. It’s a good idea to get the best sunrise alarm clock that you can.
Why buy a cheap half-effort clock if it doesn’t have all the features you want?
Sitting as a main provider we wanted to provide you with a quick comparison table of the “best” Philips wake up lights, as seen below. if you’ve got your heart set on a Philips, you can see that just for a bit more or a bit less you can choose the features that matter the most to you:
They range in price from:
- Around £60 for the HF3500/01
- Around £65 for the HF3505/01
- Around £95 for the HF3510/01
- Around £105 for the HF3520/01.
As you can see the various features are shown above for easy comparison.
Philips Wake-up Lights are clinically proven to work – 92% of users agree it makes it easier to get out of bed.
Why not try the idea of using light to wake you up as opposed to an annoying alarm buzzer that shocks and startles you into a grumpy morning.
SAD Lamp / Wake Up Light Sources & references
Where we conducted our own research into this review
Lumie – manufacturer of SAD lighting units
Amazon – for part of our product research
Sad.org – for industry research into the condition
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