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The best wake-up lights 2021: start your day the natural way

Woman in bed reaching out for wake-up light
(Image credit: David Prado Perucha / Shutterstock)

The best wake-up light can be a game-changer, getting your morning off to a better start and improving your mood all day. We've tested and ranked a selection of the top models to help you get every day off to the best possible start.

Traditional alarm clocks wake you up with a start; a disorientating experience that can put you in a bad mood that lasts all day. But wakeup lights do so much more pleasantly; by slowly increasing the level of light in your room, thus mimicking the rising of the sun. The slow build-up of light tells your body to reduce the production of sleep hormones such as melatonin and increase wakeful hormones like cortisol. 

Here, we’ve brought together the very best models available today. All offer a sunrise simulation, waking you in the morning by gradually filling your room with light. They also offer the converse in the form of a sunset simulation: slowly reducing the level of light from 100 per cent down to zero, in order to help you fall asleep in a soothing and peaceful manner. And finally there’s an audio element too: you can choose to be woken by the radio, or by the sounds of nature.

For more insight into your sleep, take a look at our guide to the best sleep trackers, and make sure you've picked the best mattress.

The best wake-up lights

Beurer Wake Up Light WL50

The Beurer Wake Up Light WL50 doubles as a good-looking table lamp during the day, with colored mood lighting (Image credit: Beurer)

A stylish wake-up light that also works well as a regular lamp

Reasons to buy
+Natural looking sunrise effect+Colored mood lighting+Stylish retro design
Reasons to avoid
-Sounds sometimes annoying-Three-hour battery life

Most wake-up lights have a rather distinctive look, but the Beurer Wake Up Light WL50 could easily pass for a regular table lamp. It's stylish enough to look at home in any bedroom, and small enough to be handy for travel as well.

The simulated sunrise lasts 10, 20 or 30 minutes, with the light gradually brightening until it reaches full intensity at your preferred wake-up time, and shifting in tone from red to white. In case the light alone doesn't wake you, there are also several sounds to choose from, including birdsong, chimes, and standard alarm beeps. The birdsong doesn't sound quite as natural as we'd like, but the light effect is impressive, and can be set to occur in reverse when it's time for bed.

There's an option for mood lighting as well, which allows you to choose a specific color to illuminate your room. The lamp looks particularly good when running from its internal battery with no dangling cables, but bear in mind that it only lasts a few hours between charges.

Read our full Beurer Wake Up Light WL50 review

Lumie Bodyclock Spark 100

The Lumie Bodyclock Spark 100 has some thoughtful design touches that make it a pleasure to use (Image credit: Lumie)

A thoughtfully designed wake-up light for stress-free mornings

Reasons to buy
+Customizable light settings+Soothing sounds+Auto-dimming display
Reasons to avoid
-Fairly large footprint-Plasticky design

It's the little touches that set the Lumie Bodyclock Spark 100 apart from the competition, including its auto-dimming display that darkens itself at night, a quick setup process, and customizable light levels.

The tap-to-snooze function is also well designed, letting you grab a little more rest without needing to fiddle with the Spark 100's buttons.

Its design isn't the most stylish around, and it would be nice if the Bodyclock Spark 100 could run from a rechargeable battery so you could use it away from a mains outlet, but those are minor quibbles.

In our tests it worked well for both adults and children who needed a little help getting to sleep and waking in good time. If you're looking for a dependable, mid-priced wake-up light, it should definitely be on your shortlist.

Read our full Lumie Bodyclock Spark 100 review

Philips Somneo Sleep and Wake-Up Light

The Philips Somneo Sleep and Wake-Up Light has a stylish design that allows light to diffuse evenly (Image credit: Philips)

The most stylish wake-up light to rouse you gently in the morning

Reasons to buy
+Great retro design+Multiple settings+Responsive touchscreen
Reasons to avoid
-More expensive than most-Speaker quality not great

The Philips Somneo Sleep and Wake-Up Light (also known as SmartSleep) is the most stylish wake-up light we've tested, and looks great even when not in use. The unusual shape doesn't just look good, either; it also helps light diffuse evenly throughout the room. 

The lamp is simple to operate using touchscreen controls that disappear when not in use. It wakes you gently with a simulated sunrise that shifts from red to yellow and finally white, increasing in brightness gradually without jarring you awake. The Somneo also works as an excellent reading light, and has a wind-down function that helps you relax and settle down at the end of the day.

There are customizable audio options as a backup, and although it's a shame there's only an FM radio rather than digital, there's a good range of sounds to choose from. The downside is the relatively steep price, but you're getting a lot for your money (particularly if you spot it on special offer).

Read our full Philips Somneo Sleep and Wake-Up Light review

Lumie Bodyclock Active 250 wake-up light

The Lumie Bodyclock Active 250 is an affordable wake-up light that's simple but effective (Image credit: Lumie)

A simple wake-up light with simulated sunrise and sunset

Reasons to buy
+Lots of light and sound options+Sunrise and sunset modes+FM radio
Reasons to avoid
-Short 'nature' sound clips-Light doesn't come on gradually

The Lumie Bodyclock Active 250 might look simple, but it gives you a huge choice of light and sound options to help you wake each morning feeling relaxed. The simulated sunrise option can last 15, 20, 30, 45, 60 or 90 minutes, and if you're concerned that you might sleep through it, you can choose an optional sound to rouse you once the light has reached full brightness.

You can pick from an FM radio, an alarm, or various natural sounds including running water and birdsong. It's a pity that these audio clips are quite short, and repeat after only a few seconds, which makes them sound rather artificial. It's also a shame that there's no DAB radio.

The light tends to come on in steps rather than fading up gradually, which may bother very light sleepers, but if you're often tough to wake then the Bodyclock Active 250 could be the perfect wake-up light for you.

We were particularly impressed by its sunset mode, which gradually dims the light before turning it off when it's time to hit the hay. It's a great tool for dissuading you from spending too long on your phone after dark, and the Bodyclock even dims its time display automatically to avoid disturbing you, which is a nice touch.

Read our full Lumie Bodyclock Active 250 review