If you're not a morning person, a wake-up light can be a game-changer, improving your mood and getting your day off to a better start. There are scores of options to choose from – some with sound as well as light, some with a built-in radio, and some that double as mood lamps – so we've put all the most popular models to the test to find the very best.
In addition to gentle light, most of these lights can also wake you with a radio station or sounds of nature, and help you drift off to sleep at night with sounds on a timer that fades them out after a certain period. If you'd prefer to fall asleep without light, take a look at our guides to the best white noise machines and the best sleep earplugs for some great devices that will help block out distractions.
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% down to zero, in order to help you fall asleep in a soothing and peaceful manner. Whatever your preference, there's a wake-up light for you right here.
The best wake-up lights
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
The Bodyclock Luxe 750 DAB is Lumie's top-end wake-up light, and although it's more expensive than others in the range, it does a lot to justify its price tag. For starters, as the name suggests, there's DAB radio, so you can enjoy your favorite station after the lamp has woken you gently with its simulated sunrise.
Unlike most other wake-up lights, it also works as a Bluetooth speaker during the day, allowing you to stream music from your phone. If you're looking for a way to minimize the number of gadgets in your bedroom, it's an excellent option. There's an aux socket and USB port as well, rounding out the set of input options.
The Luxe 750 DAB clearly in the same family as Lumie's other lights, with a translucent dome on top to diffuse light gently throughout the room, but it's the most stylish of the range thanks to its sharp lines and black fabric-covered body.
Of course, what's most important of all is the light itself, and here the Bodyclock Luxe 750 DAB really delivers. It will wake you with a natural-looking sunrise effect that brings you out of the deeper stages of sleep gently (with or without audio). Its nightlight function is particularly impressive too, and is ideal for reading before you settle down to sleep. An excellent wake-up light that comes highly recommended.
Read our full Lumie Bodyclock Luxe 750 DAB review
The Bodyclock Shine 300 sits in the middle of Lumie's lineup of wake-up lights. It doesn't have the digital radio of the Bodyclock Luxe 750 DAB, but at approximately half the price, that may well be a compromise you're happy to make.
The Bodyclock Shine 300 produces a realistic sunrise effect that gently increases in intensity while shifting from red to yellow, and then white. Older models like the Bodyclock Active 250 changed brightness in quite sudden jumps, but Lumie has honed its tech over the years to give a more natural effect that won't jar you awake.
There's also a choice of sounds to rouse you in case the light alone doesn't do the trick. Some of these are rather strange (waking to the sound of a steam train is an off experience), but there are lots of calming options as well, which can gently fade in to ease you into wakefulness. You can also choose to wake up to an FM radio station, if you prefer.
It's not the most sophisticated wake-up light on the market, but the Lumie Bodyclock Shine 300 will make your morning routine less stressful, at a very reasonable price.
Read our full Lumie Bodyclock Shine 300 review
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
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