Progressive Alarm Clock [NEW]
If you live in 2021, you likely know that staring at your phone right before bed can mess with your sleep. In fact, experts recommend that you keep your phone far from your bed, which may be tough if you use a phone app to wake you in the morning. The solution might seem obvious: Use an actual alarm clock. With daylight saving time approaching (leading to upset sleep schedules), you have a good excuse to ditch your phone and to find the best alarm clocks for your needs.
Progressive Alarm Clock
Maybe you're a heavy sleeper who could sleep through an earthquake (and actually has), or maybe you're a light sleeper who wakes up for the faintest breeze, a dim light in the dark, or the sound of a floorboard squeaking. No matter what type of sleeper you are, or how much sleep you should get, experts agree that choosing the right alarm clock is personal and very much dependent on you.
Luckily, there are many different devices that wake you and tell time in a variety of ways. Some ring via classic bells, some mimic a soothing sunrise, and others literally shake your body awake. Many offer USB outlets, night-lights, dimmable displays, and all sorts of snooze settings. Below, we've gathered 15 best-selling alarm clocks, including analog, digital, and travel-size options. Whatever your preferences, there's a timepiece for you.
This $20 option has over 30,000 high ratings with good reason. It subtly marries a midcentury-modern wood aesthetic with contemporary digital functionality. You're able to set multiple alarms (for weekday vs. weekend, say), and notably, it shows the indoor temperature and humidity (which is helpful if you're sensitive to how high to run your air conditioning).
Here's an affordable clock that has a lot of customizable features that make it a best seller: Its 6.5-inch LED display make it easy to read, it has dual USB charging ports, an alarm with various volumes for heavier sleepers, and a seven-color night-light that also works as a book light. The brightness of the numbers is easily dimmable, in case you can't drift off with light of any kind near.
Here's another top-rated sunrise-simulation clock at a lower price point than the Philips. You're able to control the clock with your Alexa or Google Home (or just via the mobile app), there are more alarm sound options (including white noise), a rainbow of colors, and a big 15-minute snooze button. Additionally, you can set four separate alarms and charge your phone via the USB port. For $40, this is a great deal.
If you often run late to appointments because you're prepping your face, this thin, stylish clock doubles as a mirror so you can both apply makeup and keep an eye on the time. The iPhone lookalike is easy to wipe clean, can be mounted on the wall (near your entry, perhaps, for a last look on the way out), and has dual charging ports.
This itty-bitty analog clock is perfect for travel, easily fitting into your bag, backpack, or pocket. That, or it just looks cute if you're short on surface area. Though small, the clock still manages to snooze with a four-beep alarm of increasing volume, softly light up for a few seconds in the dark with the press of a button, and silently tick so as not to disturb light sleepers.
If the clutter of cables irks you, it's simple to stick your phone on top of this palm-size clock to wirelessly charge. The clock suits a range of phone models, allows you to set three alarms, displays indoor temperature and humidity, and comes in three versatile colors. A reviewer notes that they especially like that the display light has the ability to be turned off unless a noise is made or it is tapped.
If you crave a classic alarm clock that has one job and one job only (to wake you up), here's one more beautiful option, from Newgate Clocks. With its soft aged patina and traditional hammers-to-bell design, the clock will look, well, timeless on any nightstand.
Sunrise alarm clocks 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."
In addition to consulting experts, I leaned on my own experience in sleep science for this guide. 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.
Pros: Smartphone connected; allows you to customize duration, color, sound, and intensity of wake-up and wind-down programs; makes recommendations for improving sleep environment; can set up to 16 alarms
A less expensive option from Philips, the SmartSleep Wake-Up Light has fewer customizable options and features than the Philips SmartSleep Connected and is completely manual; no app needed. I recommend this one if you're looking for something simple but still high-quality and efficient. It's one of Philips' best-selling sunrise alarm clocks because of its impressive colored sunrise simulations and relaxing sunsets.
I had no problem setting the time and alarms with the easy-to-follow instructions. Falling asleep to this lamp was very relaxing; the sunset simulation therapy works just as well as the Philips SmartSleep Connected. The display automatically dims as the room gets darker, great for cocooning yourself in total darkness.
It's also one of Philips' sunrise alarm clocks clinically proven to help you feel more ready for the day, and I have to admit that it did a great job at waking me up and feeling refreshed in the morning.
I prefer this Philips model's smooth, spherical shape and smaller size over the Philips SmartSleep Connected, although I wish it connected to the app for more customization. I missed the extra features in the Philips SleepMapper app when I used this model, like the sleep-environment monitoring and extended customization. I hope Philips comes out with a new sunrise alarm clock that features all of the Philips SmartSleep Connected options but is shaped like this model to simulate that beautiful, natural sunrise.
The Hatch Sleep app controls all of the features, but the device includes a few soft-touch buttons for volume and brightness so you don't have to reach for your phone, as well as a digital clock. Unfortunately, many of the guided sleep meditations can only be accessed by subscribing for $49.99 a year or $4.99 a month (though the first six months are free).
This alarm clock can also be used as a portable night-light. This feature is useful when you want to find your way in the night without bright lights. It was fun to carry around when I needed a glass of water in the dark. It's made with polycarbonate to resist bumps and endure falls, so it's great for kids to use as well.
However, the device focuses solely on effective light therapy, and, unlike other models we tested, there are no sound options. It might not be ideal for heavy sleepers who need noise to wake up; you'll still need to set a separate, audible alarm.
iHome Zenergy Dream Mini: This is our former choice for the best budget alarm, but it's now difficult to find and is $60 more than its former $90 price tag. We like that it produces a soft sunrise and can wake you up to your favorite Spotify playlist. However, it only has two alarms, and the light may not be bright enough for some sleepers. Read our full iHome Zenergy Dream Mini review.
Lumie Bodyclock Shine 300: The Lumie Bodyclock Shine 300 doesn't connect to an app, and setting it up manually took me multiple tries and many minutes. The daily alarm has to be turned on manually every single night before going to bed; if you fall asleep before you do, you're out of luck for your morning alarm. The sound options are odd, like "kittens purring," "ping-pong," "steam train," "goats," and "café." Made by a British company, the device only provides a 24-hour clock, which is somewhat inconvenient if you're used to a 12-hour clock. The device and its lights do simulate a nice sunset and sunrise. The light progression is smooth, and it has gentle levels of brightness.
In addition to interviewing sleep experts Dr. Alex Dimitriu, founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine, and Dr. William Winter of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine, I did hands-on testing with seven different sunrise alarm clocks.
I previously managed a sleep laboratory for two years and continue to contribute to sleep research. I've presented some of my research at Eastern Psychological Association and have tested products for SleepScore Labs. Part of my research involved investigating strategies to reduce sleep inertia (like using sunrise alarm clocks), so I also relied on my background in sleep research and product testing to evaluate each product over several nights. I tested each sunrise alarm clock according to the following criteria:
Setup: For each lamp, I paid close attention to how difficult or easy it was to set up on my nightstand. I noted how accurate and helpful their instructions were and what it was like to set the time and alarms. I also evaluated how heavy they were and how much space they occupied on my bedside table.
Performance: I used each wake-up lamp for a minimum of three consecutive days and nights to get used to the routine and noted whether or not they woke me up on time and with the features (sound and light color) I chose. I took notes on what it was like to fall asleep with their wind-down features and paid particular attention to the wake-up experience. I woke up at the same time every morning with each alarm clock to keep my experiences consistent and noted how I felt and how much sleep inertia I experienced. I also evaluated the sound and light quality of each and how easy or difficult it was to snooze the backup alarm (if it had one).